Over the next few weeks our resident scientist, Jc will be examining products and ingredients that are popular in the natural hair world — not to disparage them, but to provide a well-rounded view of them. Check it out:

Aloe Vera is a natural plant which is currently being researched for its possible medicinal properties. The plant has a natural gel which can be obtained by squeezing from the leaf. Commercially this gel can be added to crushed leaf to give aloe vera juice extract. Aloe vera is very complex in composition but is mainly composed of a large number of sugars.

Benefits

1.  It is natural and fresh aloe vera can be obtained simply by purchasing and keeping a plant.

2. It is generally regarded as non toxic however due to the very high sugar content it is not advisable for diabetics or people with kidney problems to consume without getting advice from a doctor. 

3. The large sugar content allows it to act as a humectant (i.e trap and hold water).  It may therefore help moisturise hair.

4. In general, aloe vera gel and juice has a low pH (generally between 3 and 6) but this will vary according to the manufacturer. For those looking to reduce pH of their products, aloe vera is a possible natural choice.

5. Outside of hair, it can also be used to soothe burns as well as possibly help with wound healing. It can also help with skin moisturisation.

Risks / Negatives

1.  As aloe vera is natural, it is variable in composition depending on where the plant was grown. It is therefore possible to experience batch to batch variation with commercial products.

2.  Commercially, aloe vera is modified to allow it to have a longer shelf life. It does still in general have a short life span generally requiring refrigeration once opened and discarding after 2-3 weeks. If mixing with conditioner, ideally aloe vera should be added to a separate container and not the main conditioner bottle/jar.

3. Fresh aloe vera (i.e squeezed out of a leaf) is not suitable for storing and should be used immediately.

4. For those strictly adhering to natural products do note that some commercial aloe vera juices and gels can have added synthetic ingredients (mainly to ensure their shelf life).

Ladies, do you use aloe vera on a regular basis? Have you experienced any of these pros and cons?

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47 Comments on "The Pros and Cons of Aloe Vera"

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Aleshia

I use it all the time, i have fine-med hair. I use it fresh from the plant. I sometimes just use the plant and put all over my hair and sit under a dryer or add in conditioner and or oils [peppermint/tea tree etc] my hair is so thick and above all seems healthy. Elastic is back and i have less shedding…. its been 5 months straight now. But its up to you.

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Michelle Cannon

Does anyone know the PROS and CONS of aleo vera

Besie

I used COLD Aloe Vera juice this morning on my freshly clarified (apple cider vinegar)and deep conditioned (coconut oil and Shea moisture deep treatment masque)hair. The cold AV juice refreshed my scalp and closed the hair cuticle while providing it’s many other benefits as well. I must say it made ALL the difference in my wash & go. The results were..more defined curls, no frizz, extra soft, and glossy.
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Sharman Hankins

Pure aloe vera gel with patent from The International Aloe Vera Science Council available from my website-for all of you ALOE VERA lovers out there! Made in America

dolly

I hv a natural gel in my garden bt afraid for being use so plz tel me frm which oil i mix it and hw much?
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dani

I use fresh gel from the leaf and aloe vera juice from Walmart. I use the juice in my shampoos and mix it in my spritzers. Learned from Jouney2myroots to add a Vitamin E capsule (its a natural preservative) to my spritzer. And its lasts about 3 weeks in the fridge (i like to cold tingly feeling on my scalp).

I like to fresh gel too but its was messy for me. I like the gel for my shea butter mix. My fine 4b/c hair has responded well to aloe vera.

Marie

How long can I keep my Aloe Vera?
The Aloe Vera juices and gels have a shelf life of 2 years when refrigerated. The capsules and topical products can last up to 10 years and do not require
refrigeration.http://aloeverafarms.com/tips.htm

bjackdoll

I like the Aloe Vera Gel. It has done wonders for my hair. I keep it in the fridge. It has been there for about a month now and I still get the same wonderful results that I have been getting since day 1 So, I think I will finish my bottle off. CBCLady, thanks for the info. My daughter suffers from dandruff so I will be trying your mix along with the aloe. Now what measurements do you us so I will get it right.

Love JAH

CBCLady, I read all the comments and yours made the most sense to me and is more logical for my routine. I just purchased a 64oz bottle so I will be adding lemon juice and storing under the bathroom cabinet as well… Thanks for the advice!

CBCLady
I use a mix of aloe juice and gel, glycerin, jojoba or avocado oil and filtered water. To perserve my mix I add a sqeeze of lemon juice which alone adds shine to the hair plus controls sebum (our natural oil). I leave my bottle under my bathroom sink and it keeps very well. I primarily spray it directly on my scalp before I oil my scalp. I use to suffer badly with dandruff but since I learned that aloe vera is a great first aid for any skin irritation I’ve been using it since. I have been dandruff free… Read more »
Kathy

Has anyone used Aloe Vera Gel only on there scalp for psoriasis?

santé

Hi Jerry, I have a question for you as you’ve most-considerately replied to others’ questions on this forum. You will be of great help to me!

Tanya

I put my aloe vera juice in small containers and freeze them. As my aloe vera juice runs down, I defrost one of my containers in the refrigerator. And pour it to a clean sterilized bottle. More manageable and I believe prevents bacteria from forming.

LynnD

Aloe vera has been a Godsend for me and my hair. I use it in my leave in and my spritz. Shiny curls, less breakage and stronger hair. Love it!

Gingerleen

I use aloe Vera gel from Trader Joe’s (contains 1 percent preservatives) to seal in moisture on wet hair for a twist out. I also use it to refresh my twists, but I have to be careful using it on dry hair, it can get sticky.

meow

I used to use aloe vera on a regular basis when I was a loose natural, it was ok, I liked how it made my hair feel very soft, but I wasn’t 100% crazy about it. I like using fresh aloe from the leaf when it comes to burns and scratches. I think the thing I don’t like about aloe is that it’s such a high-maintenance product, it doesn’t keep for too long and it can also be kinda pricey.

Ebony

Good to know about it’s shelf-life. I’ll need to buy smaller quantities.

Annie L.
Great article! I prefer straining aloe juice from the stalk ($2) but will buy LOTD aloe gel inner fillet too because the latter tastes great in juice! So far I find both are too acidic alone and as a 1:1 with water. They leave me with parched, dehydrated curls after 30 minutes, although the instant effects are curltastic. I heavily dilute aloe with water to 5.5 pH, it stretches the product and still gives me the same smooth curls and my hair stays very moisturized. I spritz like mad, add a moisturizing leave-in and seal. 1 large leaf (minus the… Read more »
Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

I use aloe vera gel for laying down my edges. I use the aloe vera juice pictured for my kimmaytube recipe. I keep mine refrigerated and it’s been a couple of months and it’s still good.

ebonee

yea i use it to lay down my edges before i go to sleep and they be nice and slicked back

The Natural Haven
Just because you do not see bacteria or fungus does not mean they are not there. If you were to leave the product outside the fridge for a day or 2 the you would most likely begin to see some mould. The mould comes from fungi already present and growing in the product. In the fridge all that happens is that the formation of bacteria or fungus is slowed down but it does not stop – you will have more bacteria/fungi on day 1 than you will on day 10. Would you keep an opened bottle/carton of orange juice in… Read more »
Cree

I don’t have money to throw away, so did a couple of things… First off, I have left my aloe out for a month and my hair was fine. Also, I freeze mine in little bottles and pull them out as needed

EG

I don’t get your analogy because orange juice and aloe vera juice are not the same. That would be like trying to compare a smoke turkey wing with a regular turkey wing just because they both have turkey in the name. You’d actually be comparing apples to oranges.
I did my own research before buying the gel from wholefoods, and it has a shelf life of 2 years. Don’t believe me, google aloe vera gel/juice and you will find out the same thing.
As I said, I use mine till it’s done.

Tanya

Just offering a thought on this, I think that the shelf life refers to an unopened product. Once it is no longer sterile, I would imagine it would degrade at the normal rate. The product could continue to work for you while at the same time having fungi in it.

Todra

There has to be preservatives (like parabens or phenoxyethanol) in it for it to last that long. If you don’t mind products with chemical preservatives, that’s fine. The purer brands, however, must be refrigerated and should be discarded according to the date on the bottle. My company works with natural products including aloe vera companies.

ranuka

same here. I heard about what was said about it, but both my hair and I ignored it. Works superbly. No problems with it, at least not anything that I’ve noticed.

EG

Same here. I keep mine in the fridge till it is done and I have NEVER had a problem. It’s a shame that so many ladies are quick to change their routine even if they’ve never had a negative side effect. Not all advice is meant to be taken as GOSPEL.

Rachel Anne

I am a natural that recently relaxed and I am still using all of my natural products. I use my aloe vera juice to dilute my setting lotion, its like magic. However I have never refrigerated the bottle & it still works well in my hair, go figure!

Angie

I use it to retwist my locs. I mix it with a little castor oil and my favorite essential oil and it works great.

April M.
I love aloe vera gel or juice to get my curls going when I wear my hair out since it’s a little acidic. {But barely! ;)} I normally use it as a part of my moisture routine daily before I seal my hair with a little oil, because it really helps to close the cuticle and repair my hair. I find that the juice isn’t as healing as th gel, but easier to mix into my spray bottles :). I’m also one of those girls who loves using only all-natural and edible stuff in my hair {Yes you can eat/drink… Read more »
cocobakerchica

+1 on your comment “Read the label”! I prefer the edible stuff for my hair too, and it is important to read the labels of all products, and check for preservatives. I like aloe vera, and so far, my hair has responded very nicely to it. Everything isn’t for everyone, and it’s a trial and error process to find what works.

June

I use aloe vera gel. I love it.

My hair loves products with aloe juice, but I don’t use it straight up.

Zyaran

I’ve never tried that product before, mine that I use is Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel. That stuff works really well if I mix it in with my sheabutter or in my water bottle along with my oils mixed in. My hair likes it, keeps it nice and moisturized.

Erica

Aloe Vera is great for burns! Once you put the aloe vera on your burn it’s like the heat is pulled out of the burn. Very soothing. I always keep a bottle around because my hand and the oven seem to be in love.

Viv

This me exactly! I have better use for this gel for my constant burns rather than my hair. Sometimes I use the plant which is even better at taking the pain away immediately.

Mod

Thanks for the info!! I refrigerate my aloe vera gel but had no idea about the discarding after 3 weeks.

Olli

I think gel has a longer shelf life than juice…

Todra

Aloe vera juice should be purchased in a dark glass bottle and make sure it is preservative free. Absolutely store in fridge after opening. Aloe vera “gels” have guar gum or other additives to create the “gel”. Nothing particularly wrong with that, I’m just saying it’s not really the same as the gel from the plant. The juice from this brand is the one my company recommends. http://www.lilyofthedesert.com/our_products/category/preservative-free-aloe-vera-juice/31

LillianMae

Long Term transitioner here! 🙂 I have been using aloe vera juice in my hair for at least a year. I use it as a part of my homemade liquid leave in, as well as use it in my black soap mix that I make…I love it because it helps keep my hair moist and keeps my strands strong!

mangomadness

I use Lily of the Dessert Aloe Vera Gel. I use it as a pre-poo mixed with oil (great slip!), my spritz (water/aloe vera gel/veggie glycerin) and mix it leave-in conditioner (on occasion). I also use it in my body butter (shea butter/aloe vera gel/veggie glycerin).

smh

Death to protein sensitive hair. Just don’t do it.

df

interesting i started using direct leave in which has aloe vera in it and my hair just feels wiry and frizzy. same thing happens if i use the aloe vera in a bottle…I was thinking that maybe the ph of my hair was off…

Risa

OMG! I think you’re right. I was using aloe gel for about 2 weeks for my twistouts (which were looking great). All of a sudden my scalp started to itch and my hair began to shed right from the bulb massively! It’s gotta be the aloe gel, this never happened to me before.

Khy

So it looks like I’ll be throwing my aloe vera juice out. Not sure how long I’ve had it but I thought it was ok since it’s been in the fridge 🙁

Tonya NewNaturalista

My daughter’s hair loves aloe vera. It’s amazing – I use it when smoothing her hair into pigtails and it stays all day and looks shiny and moisterized. Much better than any gel!

Funny thing is, it does NOTHING to my 4a, 4b hair. Go figure 🙂

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