Does aloe vera really make your hair grow?

You may have noticed aloe vera popping up more and more in beauty and skincare products at your local drugstore with endless claims about its many benefits. When it comes to hair, founder of WEN Hair + Body Care Chaz Dean tells ELLE, "It acts as a great conditioner and leaves your hair smooth and shiny. It also helps promote healthy hair growth, prevent itching on the scalp, reduce dandruff, and condition your hair." 

But is this true? Does aloe vera really make your hair grow?

"Aloe has been traditionally seen as a soothing, healing, antimicrobial, and moisturizing ingredient," Stephen Ko, a cosmetic formulator, explained to ELLE. "However, controlled scientific studies haven't shown results that backup how it's marketed." 

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle F. Henry, this is especially true when it comes to hair growth claims. "Aloe is a soothing humectant that is deeply hydrating and has anti-inflammatory properties," she told ELLE. "[However] Aloe does not stimulate hair growth. It might feel like your hair is longer because it increases the hair moisture levels, it may help retain growth, and prevent brittle locks which are prone to breakage," she continued.

Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory

While aloe vera may not actually make your hair grow, it can work to prevent itching and could even reduce dandruff. "Aloe is a soothing humectant that is deeply hydrating and has anti-inflammatory properties," said Henry — meaning it has the potential to calm irritation and hydrate skin. 

However, both Henry and Ko are quick to note that when aloe vera is used as an alternative to dedicated hair care products, results are usually quite minimal. "Aloe vera only has mild effects in terms of improving skin irritation measured by redness," warned Ko. "While it is true that aloe vera contains antimicrobial chemicals like salicylic acid, they're at too low of a concentration to be effective." The same goes for dandruff, with Henry adding that aloe vera alone can not cure dandruff, but it might be a place to start.