There are a few different ways to create a hair or scalp mask using aloe vera, but, in general, you want to make sure you use pure aloe vera. “Fresh aloe vera is best, as the medicinal properties deteriorate over time,” says California dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology. Also, she adds, “Many commercial aloe vera gels and juices contain other ingredients such as preservatives.”
The best way to get pure aloe vera is to actually get a plant and extract the aloe yourself. Bailey recommends snipping off a leaf, letting the cut edge of the leaf sit for eight to 24 hours to let the sap drain, and then removing the outer skin. “What is left is the inner gel-like flesh with its medicinal value,” she says.
Some aloe vera hair mask recipes online call for blending the gel with other ingredients, but it’s best to leave it on its own. “Avoid ingredients that cause buildup on the scalp and hair shaft at all costs,” says hairstylist Shab Reslan, a trichologist and host of the hair-and-scalp-focused podcast Hair Like Hers. “Buildup on the scalp will lead to inflammation, scalp issues, and subsequent hair thinning or loss, [and] buildup on the hair shaft results in dull and easily tangled hair.”