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Do you put aloe vera on wet or dry hair?

Aloe vera is a popular natural ingredient often added to hair care products like shampoos and conditioners. It is known for its hydrating and soothing properties that can benefit hair and scalp health. Many people apply pure aloe vera gel directly to their hair as well. This leaves some wondering whether it is better to apply aloe vera to wet or dry hair for optimal results.

Quick Overview

In short, it is usually recommended to apply aloe vera gel to freshly washed damp hair. Applying it to wet hair allows deeper penetration of the active compounds into the hair and scalp. Leaving aloe on damp hair also creates a protective layer that traps in moisture as the hair dries. Applying to dry hair can still provide benefits but is not considered as effective.

Applying Aloe Vera to Wet Hair

Wet or damp hair provides the ideal conditions for aloe vera to work its magic. Here’s why applying to freshly washed wet hair is best:

  • Wet hair allows for better absorption and penetration of the aloe vera’s nutrients deep into the hair strands and scalp.
  • Water helps “carry” the aloe vera deeper into the hair follicles and pores.
  • Hydrated hair strands more readily soak up and retain the moisture from the aloe gel.
  • Wet hair is more vulnerable to damage from drying and heat styling and aloe creates a protective barrier.
  • Leaving aloe vera on freshly washed hair helps lock in moisture as the hair dries.

Overall, damp hair provides the most frictionless route for aloe vera’s beneficial compounds to penetrate the hair and scalp. The water content helps the gel spread evenly from root to tip as well.

Using on Soaking Wet Hair

You don’t want your hair to be too dripping wet when applying aloe vera. Very saturated hair will dilute the gel too much. Ideally, gently towel dry fresh washed hair to remove excess water. It should remain damp but not overly soaked.

Leaving Aloe Vera in Wet Hair

For best results, it is recommended to leave the aloe vera gel in freshly washed wet hair for at least 30 minutes. Some even advise leaving it in damp hair overnight by covering with a shower cap after application. This allows the maximum benefit of the ingredients penetrating deep into the hair and scalp.

Applying Aloe Vera Gel to Dry Hair

While not considered as effective as applying to damp freshly cleansed hair, you can still achieve benefits from putting aloe vera gel on dry hair. Here’s how:

  • Apply a quarter-sized amount of pure aloe vera gel to dry hair and scalp and massage thoroughly from roots to ends.
  • Allow the gel to penetrate for at least 30 minutes with hair uncovered.
  • May wrap hair in a warm towel to help boost penetration of nutrients.
  • Shampoo and condition as normal after allowing aloe to soak in for a while.

The aloe vera will still deposit hydrating and nourishing compounds onto dry hair strands. However, it won’t penetrate or absorb as deeply compared to application on freshly washed wet hair.

Using as a Pre-Wash Treatment

Some people like to apply aloe vera gel to dry hair as a pre-wash deep conditioning treatment. Benefits of this include:

  • Leaving the gel on for 30+ minutes allows some absorption of nutrients.
  • Washing hair after will remove any residue.
  • Hydrating and cleansing hair after helps rinse the aloe deeper into strands.

So while not as deeply penetrating as on wet hair, using aloe as a pre-shampoo mask can still provide enhanced moisture, shine, strength, and protection.

How to Apply Aloe Vera Gel to Hair

Here is a simple step-by-step for applying pure aloe gel to freshly washed damp hair:

  1. Shampoo and condition hair as normal.
  2. After conditioning, rinse out thoroughly with cool water.
  3. Gently towel dry to remove excess dripping water but leave hair damp.
  4. Apply a quarter-sized amount of pure aloe gel to palms.
  5. Spread gel evenly between hands then apply thoroughly from roots to ends.
  6. Use fingers to gently massage gel into scalp and hair strands.
  7. Ensure hair is fully coated for optimal coverage.
  8. Let the aloe soak in for at least 30 minutes before drying or styling.
  9. May cover hair with a shower cap to allow deeper penetration.
  10. Rinse out aloe before styling or let it remain in as a leave-in treatment.

Repeat 1-2 times per week for best results. Be sure hair is damp but not overly wet before applying aloe vera gel.

Aloe Vera Hair Mask

You can also mix pure aloe gel with other nourishing ingredients to make a hydrating hair mask. Here is a simple aloe hair mask recipe to try:

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

Mix ingredients together then apply generously to damp freshly washed hair. Let sit for 30-60 minutes before rinsing out and styling as normal.

Benefits of Aloe Vera for Hair

There are many reasons you may want to use aloe vera gel on your hair. Here are some of the top benefits it can provide:

Deep Hydration

Aloe vera is comprised of over 75% water. It helps provide hydration to dry, damaged hair and improves moisture retention.

Softer Hair

The mucopolysaccharides in aloe help soften and smooth down the outer cuticle layer of the hair strand, leaving it smoother and softer.

Reduced Frizz

By sealing the cuticle and adding moisture, aloe can help reduce frizz and flyaway hairs.


Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help soothe irritation and itchiness of the scalp.

Scalp pH Balance

Aloe helps balance the scalp’s pH level, calming a dry or overactive scalp.

Added Shine

The juices and oils in aloe leaves a slight residue that imparts a luminous shine to hair strands.

Dandruff Relief

Research shows aloe vera can be effective at reducing and preventing dandruff due to its antifungal and moisturizing abilities.

Reduced Shedding

By strengthening and protecting the hair follicles, aloe vera can help reduce excessive shedding and hair loss over time.

Heat Protection

Aloe forms a protective barrier over hair that can shield against damage from heated styling tools.

UV Protection

Compounds like aloesin in aloe vera can help block some UV rays that can damage hair.

Enhanced Curl Formation

The added moisture from aloe helps enhance curl formation and definition for curly hair types.

Dye Absorption

Some find aloe vera helps hair better absorb and retain color from dyes and tints.

What to Look for in an Aloe Vera Product

When shopping for an aloe-based hair product or pure aloe gel, be sure to check:

  • It contains real, pure, stabilized aloe vera gel as a primary ingredient.
  • The product does not contain added colors, fragrances, or fillers.
  • The aloe is certified organic from quality sources.
  • There are no harmful chemicals included.
  • It has a high concentration of aloe for maximum benefits.

Be wary of products that seem to use aloe vera mostly as a marketing buzzword with very little real aloe content. Read ingredient lists carefully and look for pure, organic options for the best results.

Side Effects or Considerations

Aloe vera is considered very safe and gentle for most hair types. But there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Aloe has natural enzymes that may cause discoloration of color-treated hair. Do a strand test first.
  • It may feel too heavy or cause build-up on finer hair types. Adjust how much you use accordingly.
  • If you have an aloe allergy, avoid its use or do a patch test first.
  • Aloe can interact with certain medications like diuretics, sevoflurane, and diabetes drugs.
  • If you experience any irritation or reaction, discontinue use.

The Bottom Line

Applying pure aloe vera gel to freshly washed, damp hair allows the maximum absorption of nutrients deep into hair strands and the scalp. The water content helps the aloe penetrate more deeply to deliver essential hydration, vitamins, minerals, and compounds that benefit hair health. Using aloe vera on wet hair provides more extensive conditioning, protection, and shine-enhancing effects compared to using it on dry hair. Take advantage of aloe’s many beneficial properties by using it as a hydrating mask on washed damp hair 1-2 times per week.