Benefits Of Aloe Vera For Skin And Hair

Due to its unique composition of natural compounds, aloe vera is a powerful ingredient found in a wide variety of products, from toothpaste to washing up liquid and yogurt. It is also a common component of cosmetics for hair and skin care. 

In this article, we explore how aloe vera can be used as a natural ingredient to improve the health and appearance of skin and hair, and its application in the treatment of certain chronic conditions. 

What is aloe vera?

Aloe vera is an evergreen herb. It is cultivated worldwide, especially across the Mediterranean, North Africa, South America, and the Indian subcontinent.1 

The therapeutic potential of aloe vera gel is due to its wealth of bioactive compounds. The nutrient composition depends on the conditions of cultivation, time of harvest, the climate, the position of leaves on the stem, and even the method used for harvesting leaves.3 Over 75 different compounds have been identified in aloe vera,4 including:

  • Beta-carotene, a nutrient that the body readily converts to vitamin A
  • B Vitamins (Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12)
  • Minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium, and calcium
  • Anthraquinones (aloin and emodin)
  • Enzymes such as amylase, catalase, and peroxidase
  • Choline
  • Salicylic acid
  • Saponins

Benefits of aloe vera for skin 

Aloe vera has been shown to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of skin conditions. Some benefits of aloe vera for the skin include:

  • Supporting wound healing: Aloe vera contains many bioactive compounds that can support the skin’s recovery from a wound. Magnesium lactate found in aloe vera prevents the production of a compound called histamine (a chemical in the body that causes irritation and itching).5 Applying aloe vera to a wound can prevent you from feeling the need to scratch your skin, allowing a faster recovery
  • Aiding recovery from minor burns: Aloe vera may help with various skin healing processes in burn injuries. The application of aloe vera gel on minor burns can reduce redness and itching, prevent infection of the burn wound, and reduce recovery time5
  • Anti-ageing effects on the skin: Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can age the skin. It has been found that sterol compounds in aloe vera offer protection from harmful UV rays.4 In a study of men under 46 years of age, it was found that their skin elasticity improved when taking aloe sterol supplements for at least 12 weeks, despite their lack of sunscreen use4
  • Supporting treatment of acne: Some existing medicinal treatments of acne may be boosted with the application of aloe vera gel. A study has found that patients using tretinoin, a prescription topical medication for acne, saw a greater improvement in their condition when they also applied aloe gel to the affected skin twice daily, compared to the use of tretinoin alone6 
  • Supporting treatment of psoriasis: Psoriasis is a condition in which an immune response leads to inflammation, causing raised, red, scaly patches to form on the skin and scalp.7 People with psoriasis may experience itchiness and irritation of the affected areas. Compounds found in aloe vera could be beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis. In one study, it was found that application of aloe vera extract to psoriasis patches caused a decrease in the symptoms of 83.3% of patients8 

Benefits of aloe vera for hair

Using aloe vera products for your hair care and scalp treatments may improve their health and appearance - some benefits include:

  • Protection from UV rays: Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause hair to lose its shine, and become rough, faded, and prone to breakage. Aloe vera juice has been found to protect hair from UV rays - but the level of protection may depend on your hair type9
  • Itchy scalp relief: Aloe vera contains magnesium lactate - a compound that can help reduce itching and irritation of the skin.5 Applying aloe vera products to the scalp may relieve the dry, itchy scalp associated with conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff
  • Nutrition for hair growth: Aloe vera contains vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids that can contribute to the growth and maintenance of a healthy scalp and hair follicles10

Other health benefits of aloe vera

Aloe vera has several other proven health benefits, including:

  • Prevention of digestive diseases: Aloe vera syrup has been identified as an effective treatment for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, or GORD.4 GORD is a chronic digestive disease in which acids from the stomach move up into the gullet.11 Symptoms such as heartburn, difficulty swallowing, flatulence, and nausea were reduced in GORD patients treated with aloe vera syrup4 
  • Prevention of diabetes: In a clinical trial, an aloe vera gel complex was found to reduce insulin resistance in obese prediabetic and early untreated diabetic patients.2 It is believed that the complex carbohydrates found in aloe vera may be behind its antidiabetic effects4
  • Killing harmful bacteria and viruses: Aloe vera has proven antibacterial and antiviral properties. Aloe vera extract is effective against some types of disease-causing bacteria that can survive treatment with antibiotics, including MRSA.4 It has also shown antifungal activity against a fungus called Candida albicans, which causes thrush4

Side effects of using aloe vera

The aloe vera plant contains two types of pharmaceutically potent substances: aloe flesh, and aloe latex.6 To extract aloe flesh from the plant, the aloe leaves are peeled, washed, and carefully squeezed.3 The aloe flesh is a clear, very light green colour, with a jelly-like texture. It is generally safe to consume when used as recommended.6

Aloe latex is found in the outer skin of the aloe vera leaves. Aloe latex has strong laxative properties - this is because it contains anthraquinones. Ingesting aloe latex poses safety concerns - it is recommended to avoid consuming aloe latex, particularly if you take certain types of medication.6

 Long-term use of anthraquinones can cause inflammation of the intestines, reduce the absorption of nutrients from the gut, and prolong menstrual bleeding.3 It has been found that ingesting just 1 gram of aloe latex for several days can severely damage kidneys, and may even lead to death.6 If you plan on harvesting your own aloe vera products, it is therefore very important to ensure that you use them safely.


Aloe vera is rich in natural bioactive compounds. Aloe gel obtained from the leaves of the plant can help heal wounds, prevent skin ageing, reduce irritation and itching, as well as protecting the hair and skin from damaging UV rays. However, aloe latex may be harmful, partly due to its strong laxative properties - it is recommended not to ingest it.


  1. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Plants of the World Online - Aloe vera [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 12]. Available from:
  2. Radha MH, Laxmipriya NP. Evaluation of biological properties and clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera: a systematic review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2014 Dec 23;5:21-26. 
  3. Hes M, Dziedzic K, Gorecka D, Jedrusek-Golinska A, Gujska E. Aloe vera (L.) Webb: natural sources of antioxidants – a review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2019 Jun 18;74: 255-265. 
  4. Sanchez M, Gonzalez-Burgos E, Iglesias I, Gomez-Serranillos. Pharmacological update properties of Aloe vera and its major active constituents. Molecules. 2020 Mar 13;25(6):1324. 
  5. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The effect of Aloe vera clinical trials on prevention and healing of skin wound: a systematic review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019 Jan; 44(1). 
  6. Mayo Clinic. Aloe [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 06]. Available from:
  7. National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 09]. Available from:
  8. Males Z, Ledic Drvar D, Duka I, Zuzul K. Application of medicinal plants in several dermatovenerological entities. Acta Pharm. 2019 Jul 8;69:525-531. 
  9. Daud FS, Kulkarni SB. Comparative evaluation of photo-protective effect of Aloe vera Tourn. Ex Linn. on UV damage in different Asian hair types. Indian J Nat Prod Resour. 2022 Jun;2(2):179-183. 
  10. Cleveland Clinic. The best vitamins and supplements for hair growth [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 12]. Available from:
  11. NHS Inform. Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) [Internet]. [Cited 2022 Dec 09]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Katarzyna Drzewinska

Master of Biology, Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, University of Leeds

Katarzyna is a graduate of the MBiol, BSc Biochemistry (International) programme from the University of Leeds, UK. Her previous laboratory research projects have focussed on environmental microplastics and natural product discovery (antibiotics), but she has found her true passion in medical writing - particularly making scientific literature accessible for the general reader.

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