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The Ultimate in Staying Power: Can Aloe Vera Be Left in Hair?

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One of my earliest memories in life is of being a toddler bathing in my grandmother’s kitchen sink. She had one of those big ranch-style sinks that was wide and deep enough to act as a tub. And at two or three, I could fit safely and peacefully into that tub so she could bathe me while managing other kitchen tasks. From my vantage point in the sink, I distinctly remember the aloe vera plant that grew in a pot on the windowsill just above my head. Any time I got a cut or a burn, my grandmother would take down the plant, cut a piece off, and apply the gel to my skin. It felt instantly cool and healing. Decades later, as a grown woman with my children to bathe and care for, I have my aloe vera plant on the sill. What I never realized, in all these years, was that aloe vera can also be used in the hair. What’s more, it has amazing healing and protective qualities. This begs the question: “can aloe vera be left in hair?” Yes! I will tell you why.

Table of Contents:   

  • History of Aloe Vera 
  • Healing Properties of Aloe Vera 
  • Top 5 Benefits of Leaving Aloe Vera in Hair 
  • Watch Your Labels 

History of Aloe Vera 

One of the things I love so much about the history of aloe vera is that it is the single most abiding plant medicine in western culture. For more than two hundred years, American families have adopted the use of aloe into our homes, and you rarely hear any contradictory information about it. While some herbs and plant medicines get shrugged off as “witchy” or “hippie,” aloe vera is ingrained in our minds as truly helpful and healthy. Little boys and girls across the country have memories similar to mine, and we continue to pass the use of aloe vera down to our children. Indeed, in a recent survey, more than 70% of women reported they had an aloe plant in their house. 70%! That’s a lot of agreement in this country.  

The long history of the plant goes back even farther, of course. For thousands of years, healers have been using aloe vera on skin and hair, both internally and externally, for a variety of health benefits. Our ancestors then brought it over to the new world with them when they immigrated, and the tradition continued. Legend has it Cleopatra used aloe vera as part of her beauty regimen. As did Nefertiti.  

Healing Properties of Aloe Vera 

What makes aloe vera such a miracle plant is its nutrient-rich properties. It contains Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. Talk about packing a punch. These vitamins are essential to reducing inflammation, supporting strong immune systems, aiding in proper digestion, treating diabetes and migraines, and more. And that is just the vitamins. Aloe Vera also contains the minerals Calcium, Sodium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, and Copper, critical to strong bones, lowering blood pressure, supporting muscles, cleaning blood vessels, and making proteins in the body, all of which only scratches the surface of what this power-packed plant can do. It is truly a wonder, and it is no wonder Alexander the Great used it to treat his soldiers’ wounds! Thus, you can imagine how beneficial it is to apply aloe vera to your hair and scalp, and, yes, to leave it there.  

Top 5 Benefits of Leaving Aloe Vera in Hair 

Most hairstylists and dermatologists will recommend you apply aloe vera gel to your scalp and the roots of your hair and leave it in for up to an hour. Longer will not hurt, but it may be unnecessary. After an hour, wash the aloe vera out with a mild shampoo. Do that a couple of times a month, and you can expect to reap at least a few, if not all, of the benefits below.  

1. Squeaky Clean 

Aloe vera is not only healing but also cleansing. So, if you have buildup in your hair from using a lot of products, aloe vera is a great way to cut through the grease and grime and get your hair back to its healthy self. Bonus: it has antibacterial properties, so you are not just getting clean, you are getting squeaky clean. 

2. Hydration for the Win 

The gel in this succulent plant is deeply hydrating, penetrating the scalp and hair follicles to support moisturization of the hair and skin. The result is softer, smoother hair.  

3. Goodbye Itchy Scalp 

Those good old anti-inflammatory properties in aloe vera will reduce and can even remove dry itchy scalp. It can be enormously relieving for people with scalp conditions like psoriasis.  

4. Strong Hair Do Care 

Because of its myriad vitamins and minerals, preliminary studies show that aloe vera can lead to stronger hair in the long run. It seems like a no-brainer, right? You have a clean scalp and follicles, which reduces breakage. Your hair will naturally be stronger. Some studies have shown it will regrow your hair.  

5. UV Protection 

Oops. Did I forget to mention aloe vera also acts as sunscreen? It does! Applying aloe vera to your hair regularly may provide extra protection for your tender locks when they are under the sun. UV protection means your hair can stay glossy and break less. Win/win.  

Check Your Labels 

In the end, unless you are allergic to aloe, you can experiment with the gel for myriad health troubles. And you should definitely apply it to and leave it in your hair. As always, if you are not using the gel directly from the plant itself, be sure to check your labels. You do not want aloe mixed with anything harsh or toxic, like alcohol, which could undo all your good healing work. Look for all-natural, vegan-based, cruelty-free products that are simply bottled-up goodness. And you can thank whoever did all the work of extracting the gel from the plant for you!

Shanna Mendez

Shanna Mathews Mendez is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to self-care, naturopathy, female empowerment, and motherhood. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children, where she enjoys traveling, being active outdoors, and studying herbalism and plant-based remedies in her free time. Drawing on her graduate degree in comparative literature and her own life experiences, she is currently writing her first book. She can be found online at her website thewordywitch.com

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