Aloe vera has been used for centuries as a remedy to soothe burns, dry skin, and as an ingredient in beauty products. Many naturals across digital platforms tout aloe as a tool to keep natural hair supple, hydrated, and shiny. With their guidance, many people have found that YouTube gurus were one hundred percent right to recommend using aloe on natural hair.
A natural, affordable ingredient that mimics (or even rivals) more expensive treatments? Sign us up. But to make sure this wasn't too good to be true, let’s take a look at how using aloe vera consistently in your hair works and if you should do it...
What is Aloe Vera?
Most of us know that the clear gel from the aloe plant soothes, but what makes aloe vera such a versatile ingredient for hair? Aloe is a plant with multiple benefits for the body, skin, and of course, our hair. Naturally, aloe has the ability to hold moisture, especially in dryer climates where water is scarce.
This awesome property makes aloe the perfect candidate for obtaining and retaining moisture in our hair. Aloe contains tons of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals for our hair, however, the main composition of aloe is water, and among its watery makeup, there are super cool chemical compounds called "polysaccharides."
Long-chain sugar molecules that contain hydroxy groups (-OH) which create a hydrophilic (water-loving) environment. This helps reduce transepidermal water loss, protecting the cell barrier function.
Aloe is especially powerful in terms of hydration in that it both locks and loads; it may host a moisture-retaining film on the hair, to help lock in moisture while still being able to attract moisture from the air due to its humectant properties.
Benefits of Aloe for Hair
Aside from drawing in and harboring moisture in the hair, many naturals credit aloe with promoting healthy hair growth. However, while aloe doesn't actually help the hair grow, it contains vitamin E and vitamin C, both of which help to protect against free-radical damage, meaning the integrity and strength of your hair may be better maintained.
Aloe is also quite soothing due to its hydrating nature and anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an integral ingredient for those with itchy scalps and dandruff.
Side Effects of Aloe Vera
There's usually little cause for concern when using aloe vera gel, but some people may be allergic to it. Before using aloe vera topically, do a patch test. Rub a small amount of aloe vera on the inside of your wrist and wait up a couple of hours to see if your skin reacts. This test will let you know if you have an aloe sensitivity.
Though side effects are not common, aloe can leave a film on the hair. Testing out different product layering can help you figure out what works well with the water-rich plant.
How to Use It
Due to the hydrophilic (water-attracting) makeup of aloe, it works well with other water-based ingredients like glycerin and water, rather than an oil. You can still add a tablespoon or two of aloe vera juice to your favorite conditioner or moisturizer for extra moisturizing benefits. If you're planning to use it as a daily moisturizer, try this formula for your spray bottle:
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup aloe vera juice (inner fillet)
To end, there can be too much of a good thing—even moisture. After using the above spray in large doses, your hair can become too moisturized, and a protein treatment to revive your hair may be necessary if overused. In other words, apply sparingly and only when your hair really feels like it could use some extra love.
The Best Products With Aloe
When looking for aloe-based products to adds to your hair routine, take a look at the ingredients list first. Unless aloe vera juice is in the first five ingredients of a product, it's most likely in the formula at very small amounts.
With this advice in mind, adding aloe to your hair care regimen can be as simple as finding a product to infuse into your conditioners, leave-ins, and shampoos. If you haven't experimented with aloe yet, it's worth a try.
Finding a high-quality product is relatively inexpensive, and in the event that it doesn't work for you, you can always use it on your body because aloe vera has a wealth of benefits beyond hair. For guaranteed healthy, shiny hair, look no further than Wild Naturals!