Aloe vera has long been dubbed the ultimate skin soother in the name of sun-scorched skin, but its benefits don’t stop at sunburns and skin care. More recently, the beloved botanical ingredient has made its way into hair-care formulas. Aloe vera hair products promise shinier, smoother, and glossier results, and tout impressive reparative benefits.
The short-stemmed succulent is a super-hydrator that stores water in the slimy flesh of its leaves and is full of minerals, like copper and zinc, that have been proven to promote healthy skin and hair. “Since the scalp is skin, it can therefore benefit from ingredients proven to be helpful for skin,” explains New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. “Aloe vera has humectant properties, which means it can help hydrate the scalp and hair.” So, just as we love aloe vera juice infused into some of our favorite skin-care products (especially those targeted towards dry skin), you can use aloe vera to promote lush, healthy hair and, by extension, prevent breakage.
Stylists are in agreement, too. “Aloe is very beneficial for the hair because of its moisturizing and hydration benefits,” shares Georgia-based hairstylist Alexander Armand. “It also offers many other benefits such as strengthening the hair, promoting hair growth, helping with minimizing an itchy scalp, and protecting against UV damage.” Some studies have also pointed to aloe vera as a formidable treatment for dandruff (also known as seborrheic dermatitis).
If you think that’s where the list of benefits of aloe vera ends, think again. Aloe vera gel also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can be especially beneficial for soothing an itchy, dry scalp. “Aloe vera is not highly allergenic, so it’s relatively safe,” Michelle Henry, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City told us, in addition to noting that the plant can play an important role in treating conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Not only that, but “aloe can also help protect the scalp and hair from damage [caused by] free radicals, like sun exposure and pollution, and protect hair color from becoming oxidized,” adds Dr. King. This helps to preserve that fresh-out-of-the-salon vibrancy and enviable softness that continue to top our #hairgoals.
While you could theoretically DIY your own aloe hair-care treatment by scraping gel out of an actual aloe vera plant or cutting off a chunk of the plant à la Drew Barrymore, it’s likely much easier to treat your hair to a dose of hair-loving aloe goodness via the editor- and expert-approved shampoos, masks, and styling sprays listed below.