Due to its cooling effects, Dr. Chimento says, aloe vera is often used to reduce inflammation, decrease redness, and keep skin glowing — but Dr. Garshick says that glow can also be attributed to its enzymes and antioxidants. They further decrease inflammation and fight off free-radical damage, which may lessen the appearance of signs of aging.

What is aloe vera’s benefits for hair and scalp?

The scalp is simply a hair-covered extension of our facial skin, so it reaps the same rewards from aloe as the rest of our epidermis. Aloe vera can calm a scalp irritated by dandruff by helping to eliminate dead skin cells and, thus, stop the uncomfortable itching, Dr. Chimento says.

And aloe is no slacker when it comes to hair, either. “Aloe vera’s active ingredients can also contribute to cell turnover, which repairs and strengthens hair strands,” Dr. Chimento continues. Dr. Garshick adds that it may help keep hair smooth and shiny, which is why there are so many aloe vera hair products these days..

Pure aloe vera gel versus aloe as one of many ingredients

When looking to reap aloe vera benefits, the dermatologists we spoke to agree that 100 percent pure aloe vera gel is the way to go. In fact, if it’s present in a formulated product, there’s a good chance it’s in there not for the main advantages of aloe, but rather to make other ingredients more tolerable, Dr. Garshick says.

“You are more likely to get the benefits from using 100 percent aloe vera gel than from a formulated product, as the amount of aloe in formulated products usually only has a small amount of aloe in them,” Dr. Chimento tells Allure, recommending both Honeyskin Organic Aloe Vera Leaf Gel and Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Gel.

Dr. Garshick agrees. “If you are looking for a direct outcome from the aloe vera itself, it makes sense to use 100 percent aloe vera gel so you know how much you’re actually getting,” she says. 

So can you leave aloe vera on your face overnight? Not exactly. How long you can leave pure aloe on your face versus a product that contains it is quite different. Treat pure aloe vera more like a mask than a moisturizer, Dr. Garshick says. “It is best to leave it on for a little while — approximately five to 10 minutes — and then rinse as leaving pure aloe vera gel on for too long can lead to potential irritation and dryness.”

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