Aloe Vera has been known to and been used extensively by mankind since the past 6000 years. It works wonders for skin and hair and is often the key ingredient in many beauty products. Aloe barbadensis (aka Aloe Vera) is the best known and is prized in the health and beauty worlds for its healing properties. In conventional medicine, Aloe Vera is used as a topical gel, which is made from the gel-like substance inside the plant’s leaves. It’s also possible to use the leaves directly by breaking them apart and pressing out the gel. Moisturising the skin and repairing damaged hair is one of the numerous benefits of Aloe Vera. It is a naturally soothing gel that is gentle on your hair and skin while hydrating and nourishing it simultaneously. Oily, dry or sensitive, it works it’s magic on every skin type and is a secret to getting spotless, flawless skin. Its stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance in the leaves, which contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. The gel from aloe has been used throughout history to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as burns, frostbite, psoriasis, and cold sores, research shows. Each triangular leaf of the Aloe Vera plant is composed of three layers, with the innermost layer containing a clear gel that’s made up of 99 percent water and roughly 75 potentially active ingredients.
Let’s get into some of the uses of Aloe Vera in skincare
1. Helps with signs of ageing
As your skin ages, skin loses its elasticity and smile lines, crow’s feet and saggy neck are some of the ageingsigns that become more noticeable on the face. Aloe Vera gel can help you deal with that. It helps your skin in retaining its moisture and gives back its radiance. It not only reduces the visible wrinkles and fine lines on the face but also prevents premature ageing of the skin by improving the elasticity of the skin and repairing skin cells. Aloe stimulates fibroblast activity, which creates an uptick in collagen production and elastin fibres that make the skin less wrinkled and more elastic. Meanwhile, zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores, and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help prevent the formation of free radicals (aka, molecules that can do a number on your cells).
2. Prevent and may even fade dark spots
Aloe Vera gel prevents tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for skin discolouration, from doing its thing, essentially suppressing UV-induced hyperpigmentation and the skin-damaging effects of sunburns. This mechanism may also help in the prevention of dark spots, while the various antioxidants it contains (such as glutathione peroxide) may fade sun damage that’s already formed.
3. Skin Exfoliator
Exfoliating the skin is important to get rid of dead cells and clear pores of grime. Aloe vera is a known cleansing agent enriched with antibacterial properties that flush out impurities gently. Its antiseptic properties shield skin from bacteria which in turn prevents acne and skin infections. The salicylic acid aloe vera contains acts as an exfoliator, helping to gently slough off dead skin cells. It also contains lignin, a substance which can enhance the penetrative effect of other ingredients into the skin.
4. Soothe Sunburn
Due to its natural cooling properties, aloe vera is a great product for soothing sunburns. It is anti-inflammatory with mineral and antioxidant content that accelerates the process of healing. If you have a stinging sunburn, apply a generous dose of aloe vera gel and it will calm the skin. The gel also contains a pain reliever called carboxypeptidase, which may be why aloe vera is so soothing. It’s not an effective way to prevent sunburn, so you must wear a mask or face cream when you go out in the sun.
5. Helps treat dry skin
Aloe vera gel absorbs easily, making it ideal for oily skin. Because it is mostly water, it helps to hydrate the skin without that post-application greasy feeling. It helps lock moisture into the skin, while also acting as a glue that makes the top layer of skin cells stick together, ultimately smoothing and softening your skin. Aloe Vera sinks into skin to provide deep hydration.
6. Removes dark circles, pimples and puffiness
Aloe Vera is packed with antioxidant and vitamin E which help lighten discolouration around eyes and the cooling effect helps with the puffiness, killing two birds with one stone. Applying aloe vera gel around eyes at night would depuff eyes and fades dark circles away. Due to the anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera, the gel may help treat inflammatory forms of acne, such as pustules and nodules. Apply the gel with a cotton swab directly to the pimple three times daily.
7. Treats cold sores
Unlike canker sores, cold sores develop on the outside of your mouth. Aloe vera is an antiseptic, containing six agents known to help inhibit fungi, bacteria, and viruses, including salicylic acid, phenols, and sulphur. It may help speed up the healing process too, by creating antibodies the immune system can use to fight the cold sore virus. Apply a small amount of the gel to your cold sore twice daily until it goes away.
How to Use the Gel
Cut a piece of aloe vera leaf, cut out thorns and rub it from gel-side on the face. You can also scrape some sap from the leaves of aloe vera plant using a knife to extract fresh aloe vera gel. The gel from two leaves would be enough. Take out more if you need. Blend it or whisk to make it smooth and apply the mix onto face and neck with the help of fingers before going to bed. Leave it overnight and wash your face in the morning.
How to choose the best gel
Purest aloe is always best, without anything added, such as other ingredients to supposedly make it better. If the percentage of aloe vera is low, that means it contains many other additives, such as thickeners, preservatives, colours, and fragrance. These additional (and unnecessary) ingredients may make the aloe vera less effective. Although some preservation is necessary—hence why there’s no such thing as 100 percent aloe vera gel—try to find one that has the least number of ingredients, and the highest percentage of aloe vera.
The Side Effects
You may experience itching or slight burning. If you experience a rash or hives, you could have a sensitivity to the gel and should stop using it immediately. Don’t use aloe vera gel on the infected skin. While the gel has microbial properties, its protective layer can disrupt the healing process and make an infection worse. It is also not preferred to take Aloe Vera capsules orally as they may damage the internal organs of the stomach and may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms.
The Final Verdict
Hiding in plain sight is one of the most common products for skin-care users. It is called the “magical tree”. It is one of the most underrated plants that can be beneficial to your skin. This humble cactus can be grown anywhere and has strong survival instincts too. Making the skin better in all possible ways, this natural plant has a lot of benefits. Use it well and you will have the right results in a couple of weeks. Contact your dermatologist in case you have any irritation and rashes or any other side effects due to this.