Aloe Vera next to a white haired woman
Getty Images / Dragan Valentin / insta_ photos
Although aloe is a popular ingredient in today’s self-care and beauty products, this succulent plant full of gel is far from the current trend. For thousands of years, aloe has been touted for its medicinal, health, beauty and dermatological properties – ancient Egyptians called it an “immortal plant”, which is an important element of Cleopatra and Nefertiti’s beauty regimen. Over the past few thousand years, research has found dozens of potential applications of aloe vera, which is particularly coveted in hair care, from improving intestinal health to removing psoriasis.
We talked to Tony lane, the founder and cosmetic chemist of the popular YouTube channel curly chemistry, and Patrick obukowo, a member of the association of cosmetic chemists and President of advantage research lab, to learn more about the practical benefits of aloe vera for hair and how products on the market work for those seeking to solve hair related problems.
Aloe benefits for hair
Ryan explained that Aloe Vera has many benefits for hair, whether you want to heal your scalp or just take care of your hair. She said the ingredient is a moisturizer, a substance that reduces water loss and absorbs water from the environment into the skin and hair.
“Aloe Vera is amazing in providing lasting moisture that you can see and feel,” Ryan said. “For hair, you will find an increase in softness and ease of combing.” She also points out that aloe vera can bring subtle luster to the skin. However, the therapeutic properties of aloe vera are more than just kicking dryness to the side of the road.
“Aloe vera can promote the pH balance of hair, scalp and skin. [this] plays a great role in our health. Unfortunately, there are many scalp problems due to pH imbalance. Adding aloe vera is definitely an asset to your treatment plan,” Lane said However, she points out that everyone reacts differently to various ingredients (even natural ingredients), so it is important to choose the products and treatments that best respond to hair.
Research also shows that aloe is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can prevent ultraviolet radiation and enhance the efficacy of hair and scalp. UV protection features will maintain color and luster and make your hair look radiant. It can even remove oil, because Aloe Vera contains special enzymes that can remove excess oil from hair (and skin). If that’s not enough, aloe vera may help hair growth because it not only increases the blood circulation of the scalp, but also is rich in vitamins A, C and E, which can fight inflammation and free radicals.
The reality of “aloe” hair care
Lane and obuko have used Aloe Vera many times to prepare skin and hair products. They prefer to use aloe vera in a gel like liquid state rather than in a powder form, which may not be very effective. However, obukowho says just choosing a hair care product that touts Aloe Vera doesn’t guarantee all of these benefits.
“We often use aloe vera. The ingredient story is about place. Marketers like it because Aloe Vera itself is a natural organic ingredient, so it’s a good story,” he said. “I’ve been working on formulas for 27 years. In every formula I’ve used, the concentration of aloe is less than 1%, despite the great demands of marketing.”
Obukowho pointed out that although aloe has existed for thousands of years and has been used for a variety of benefits, its efficacy in products is questionable. He doesn’t believe there is enough research to support all the claims about aloe. Obukowho added that almost all shampoos and conditioners on the market – and many other hair care products – contain surfactants, compounds that combine water and oil and interfere with the integrity of Aloe Vera.
The main purpose of surfactant in hair care product formulation is to remove dirt, so it is a very important part of the formulation process, but it will decompose the buzzing active ingredients listed on the label (think: olive and Moroccan nut oil, vitamin E or aloe vera), obukowho explained. However, some of the basic ingredients of the formula can actually be used with the active ingredients, obukowho said. Oily or aqueous products containing aloe may be more effective than the typical drugstore shampoo advertised with aloe
In addition, obukowho points out that consumers often forget that their hair is dead. If you want to cure dandruff or other scalp problems, improve hair growth and promote the overall health of hair, you need to use the product directly on the scalp. For example, while aloe based conditioner may help moisturize your hair, you won’t get anti-inflammatory effects or see longer hair. If your goal is to promote hair growth and healing, you need to use something on your scalp.
How to use aloe for hair
If you don’t want to spend time studying aloe based hair care products, this ingredient is very effective in the form of fruit juice and comes directly from the plant itself. These two ingredients are becoming more and more common in supermarkets, and there should be natural food stores at most.
“For those with dry or flaky scalp, a weekly aloe juice rinse will help promote a healthier scalp and reduce itching,” Ryan said. “Aloe juice is also a good way to rinse your hair and make your hair juicy throughout the week, especially when it feels a little dry.” You can also scoop out the gel in the center of aloe vera leaves (or buy a bottle), and then apply it directly on the scalp and hair to make an all natural (and very cheap) hair mask.
If you are looking for special products other than raw aloe to update your daily or weekly hair care plan, it is worth taking the time to find products that will bring you the most benefits. For those looking to soothe and hydrate the scalp, an all natural shampoo with a short and simple list of ingredients may be worth investing in. If you want to promote hair growth, an aloe based thickening spray that can be applied to your roots may also be a viable option. Remember that everyone reacts differently to certain products and ingredients, so if you add new steps to your self-care program, be sure to monitor the feelings of your scalp and skin.