How To Use Aloe Vera On Hair: Benefits + Tips
From serums to oils to leave-in styling creams, there are plenty of hair products on the market that promise glossy, hydrated strands. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to figure out what you should be using and what to leave behind—and the world of DIY beauty is no exception.
Luckily, there are a few safe bets you can always count on for healthy hair care from your own kitchen, including aloe vera. Ahead, discover what makes this ingredient so great for your strands and a few ways to use it.
Benefits of aloe vera for hair
You may be familiar with aloe vera's benefits for sunburns, but this ingredient can work wonders for your scalp and locks as well. Here are a few of the most notable benefits:
- Hydrating for the hair fiber: Think of aloe vera as a refreshing glass of green juice for your hair and skin. Not only does it deeply hydrate your scalp, but it plumps up the hair shaft with hydration as well. If you've got dry, brittle hair, aloe is a winning ingredient for replenishing moisture.
- Soothing for the scalp: Whether your scalp is just plain itchy or you're dealing with dandruff, aloe vera can be a soothing remedy. In fact, one study found that aloe vera even calms inflammation caused by dandruff1. It also contains bradykinase—an enzyme that can help reduce excessive inflammation when applied topically2.
- May help with flakes: A dry scalp is different from dandruff, but it can still present as flakes. Using aloe vera on the scalp can help hydrate the skin and decrease flakes over time. Plus, if you use aloe as a gentle cleanser, it may help slough off already present flakes.
- Can help with scalp blemishes: Did you know that aloe vera contains natural salicylic acid (aka, a well-known acne treatment)? This is just one reason aloe can function as a natural breakout remedy, and that applies to pimples on the scalp as well.
- May contribute to growth: "Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E, which are essential for hair growth," certified trichologist and celebrity stylist Shab Caspara previously told mbg. "These antioxidants help reduce and neutralize free radicals known for causing hair loss." Aloe vera also contains vitamins B12 and B9 (aka folic acid), which are also important nutrients for hair growth, she adds.
How to use aloe vera on hair
For all of those reasons and more, aloe vera is a beloved DIY hair care ingredient. Not to mention, it's affordable, versatile, and easy to work with. Without further ado, let's get into how you can use it at home:
One easy remedy for dry scalp, flakes, or itch: a DIY aloe vera scalp mask. Here's the how-to:
- Prep your aloe: You can either buy a fresh aloe vera leaf or 100% pure aloe vera gel (make sure to look out for added dyes or fragrances). If you opt for the fresh leaf, you'll need to scrape out the aloe gel and blend it until it reaches a more liquid consistency. If you bought the pure aloe gel, then you're all set.
- Apply: Gently apply the aloe mask to a clean scalp before you shower. "Clean" is the operative word here; make sure you don't have tons of product buildup from dry shampoo or hair spray on your scalp.
- Massage: Really work the aloe vera into the scalp via a gentle scalp massage. Remember, use your fingertips, not your nails.
- Let it set: Let the mask sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it out, then follow your normal hair-wash routine.
If your strands need extra hydration, you can whip up your very own hair mask. All you need is 2 teaspoons of aloe gel, 1 teaspoon of honey, and 3 teaspoons of coconut oil.
- Create your mix: Whip up the ingredients listed above in a bowl or cup of your choice. If the consistency is too runny for your liking, add a bit more honey. If it's too thick, add more aloe.
- Apply: Part your hair into a few different sections and apply the mix onto dry strands before you shower. Cover the hair from root to tip.
- Let it set: After the mask has been in for about 30 minutes, wash your hair and follow up with your normal hair care routine.
You can even make your own leave-in conditioner using aloe vera as a key ingredient. Simply chuck the following ingredients in a bowl, apply to damp strands, and leave it in until your next wash:
- 2 tablespoons aloe vera
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
Split ends got you down? Here's a quick split-end mending treatment to ease their appearance and hold you over until your next trim. Apply the blend to your ends post-shower and leave it in until your next wash:
- 1 teaspoon aloe vera
- 1 teaspoon shea butter
- 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
If you're prone to tangles, this DIY spray will be your saving grace. All you need is some coconut oil, aloe vera, water, and a small spray bottle:
- Melt the coconut oil: First, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil until you achieve a liquid consistency.
- Add your aloe & water: Next, plop in 1 tablespoon of aloe vera and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Apply: Shake the mix around in the spray bottle and spritz onto damp hair after you step out of the shower. If you don't have a spray bottle on hand, you can use your hands as well.
- Comb: Gently comb your hair using a wide-toothed comb until you've settled all of your tangles. Start at the bottom of your hair and work upward—this will ensure your comb doesn't get stuck on every knot along the way.
Traditional hair gels are often packed with drying ingredients that make your strands feel crispy post-use. Luckily, that sticky consistency aloe has makes it a perfect natural hair gel.
Simply apply the same amount to your palm as you would any hair gel and follow up with whatever styling tools you use (or your fingers) to nail your desired look, au naturel.
Use it with a pre-blended formula.
Given the versatility of this ingredient, it's no wonder aloe vera is found in tons of hair care products already on the market. Want to skip the DIY and find your next favorite instead? Here are a few A+ options to get you started.
How to store aloe vera to keep it fresh
For those following a DIY method, you'll need to make sure your aloe stays fresh. Here are a few tips to store your aloe for long-term use:
- Keep it cool: Humidity and temperature3 are the most critical influencers of aloe vera's freshness, so store your aloe in your refrigerator.
- Use an airtight container: Oxygen exposes the gel to harmful bacteria and makes it go rancid faster3. For this reason, it's best to opt for a bottle or a jar with a screw-on top.
- Keep it safe from light: Store your aloe in an amber bottle or jar, which absorbs UV radiation and protects the gel's beneficial compounds.
- Store extra in the freezer: If you plan on using your aloe every once in a while rather than daily, you may consider pouring your gel into an ice cube tray and popping them out when needed (this is perfect for soothing a sunburn, too).
Risks and side effects
Overall, aloe vera is a very safe ingredient to use on your hair. There aren’t any major risks or side effects to be cautious of. However, if you have a personal sensitivity or allergy to aloe, of course avoid using it. As always, patch test new products on a small area before applying it allover.
Do you apply aloe vera to wet or dry hair?
You can apply aloe to both wet and dry hair. When your hair is wet, aloe vera will help pull water into your hair and skin, boosting its hydrating impact. However, aloe can be used on dry strands as a natural hair gel, leave-in treatment, or pre-shower scalp mask.
Do I need to wash my hair after applying aloe vera?
You don't have to wash your hair after applying aloe vera, but depending on how much you use, it may be smart to give it a quick rinse. If you're using it as a scalp mask, be sure to shower after. If you use it as a leave-in conditioner, then there's no need.
What can I mix with aloe vera for my hair?
You can use aloe vera alone as a scalp mask, mix it with coconut oil and honey for a pre-shower hair treatment, or mix it with shea butter for a hydrating leave-in conditioner.
How often should you use aloe vera on hair?
How often you should use aloe vera on your hair depends on what you’re using it for. If you’re using aloe vera as a mask, use it 1-3 times a week. If you’re using it as a leave-in conditioner, use it after you shampoo your hair (which will depend on your personal shampoo schedule). If you are using it as a styling gel or split end treatment, then you could use it daily.
As you can tell, aloe vera is one of those ingredients that can fit into anyone's hair care routine. You can use it as a gentle scalp mask, mix it with richer ingredients like coconut oil for a hair mask, or blend it with shea butter for a nourishing leave-in treatment. Interested in using aloe vera in your skin care routine too? Here's why you might want to.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.