Aloe vera is likely a familiar skin care remedy to you, especially as a natural sunburn soother. However, the benefits of aloe for skin go far beyond just occasional after-sun use.
The gel-like substance that comes from the leaves of aloe plants is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds. This wide range of nutrients deeply nourishes, hydrates, and soothes skin. Aloe vera is also a particularly good choice if you struggle with breakouts because it's oil-free.
Here's more about the benefits of aloe vera for you skin and ways you can add it to your skincare routine.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is a succulent plant native to certain arid regions of Africa. It's now been naturalized in dry areas of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Though there are over 400 species of aloe, only a few are used medicinally and for skincare. (1)
Because its natural habitat is very dry, aloe vera stores water and nutrients in its stem and triangular-shaped leaves. This creates a potent gel-like substance, which is what we use for skincare.
Aloe vera juice (for drinking) is a slightly different product. It's typically made by processing and filtering whole aloe leaves. Both have similar properties and nutrients, but the gel is what you want to use for skin health.
Aloe vera gel is clear and packed with over 75 different nutrients and compounds. It has vitamins A, C, and E (which are all antioxidants) as well as enzymes, amino acids, salicylic acid, minerals, and fatty acids. (2)
To get the most out of aloe vera for skin, be sure you either use the gel straight from your own aloe plant or buy a product that's at least 99% pure aloe vera gel (the other 1% should be a natural preservative).
Top Benefits of Aloe Vera for Skin
Naturally Hydrates Skin
Aloe vera helps to moisturize skin in part because of its high water content. Unlike oils which are more beneficial for locking moisture in, aloe actually provides a boost of hydration to skin.
Along with providing water content, aloe vera also contains sugars called mucopolysaccharides that bind moisture to the skin. (2) This makes it ideal for those with dry skin while still benefiting those with oily skin. Its quick absorption rate means your skin won't feel greasy, either.
Aloe vera smooths and softens skin while hydrating. It's also non-allergenic, which makes it a great ingredient to use in creams for sensitive skin.
Aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid that helps it to gently exfoliate your skin and get rid of dead skin cells. It won't give you a deep exfoliation like a grainy cleanser would, but it will help your skin stay soft and refreshed.
Because it exfoliates, overuse can dry out your skin (in spite of the fact that it's a moisturizer). This is because over-exfoliating causes skin to get irritated and lose its protective barrier.
To avoid this, you can simply use aloe alongside your normal moisturizer or combine it with moisturizing oils like coconut or shea butter.
Soothes Irritated Skin
Aloe vera is already pretty well known for its ability to soothe irritated or burned skin. It contains many compounds that calm and protect skin, including aloin which has anti-inflammatory properties. (3)
This soothing, anti-inflammatory effect may help with skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis, especially when aloe is combined with other beneficial botanicals.
For all types of skin ailments like eczema, diaper rash, and chapped skin, try this Baby Balm with aloe vera, herbs, and soothing essential oils.
Fights Against Acne
Along with anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera has antimicrobial properties that can be helpful for those with acne. (2) The salicylic acid in aloe also plays a role in exfoliating skin and unclogging pores.
While aloe vera isn't strong enough to replace your normal acne regimen, it can be used alongside topical acne treatments to increase their effectiveness. One study found that combining aloe vera with a topical retinoid was much more effective for treating acne than the retinoid alone. (4)
May Slow Signs of Aging
There's no evidence yet to indicate that aloe vera can make wrinkles go away, but there is reason to believe it may slow down or prevent more signs of aging.
Research has shown that compounds in aloe vera stimulate the production of collagen and elastin- two essential building blocks that keep skin firm and less wrinkled. (2)(5) It also contains antioxidants (particularly vitamins A and C) that can prevent free radical damage which causes skin to age prematurely.
Ways to Use Aloe Vera for Skin
Apply to Burned Skin
Aloe vera still remains one of the best remedies for soothing burned or irritated skin.
If you were out in the sun too long or got a minor burn, apply good quality aloe vera gel directly to the affected area. You can wrap or cover the area with gauze as needed.
Of course, if you suffer any kind of serious burn, go to the emergency room to get treated.
Cover Minor Cuts
If you have a minor cut or scrape, put a little bit of aloe vera on your wound before covering it with a bandage. Aloe vera has antimicrobial properties and will keep the wound moisturized so that it can heal more quickly.
Or try out this Super Salve made with aloe and skin-healing herbs for cuts, abrasions, bug bites, rashes, and more.
Soothe Irritated Scalp
Aloe vera gel is also great for your scalp, especially if you deal with itchiness, dryness, or dandruff. Its vitamin content and hydrating nature has made it a favorite for those who prefer natural hair care.
You can simply massage aloe gel into your scalp and down through your hair. Leave it on as a hair mask before gently rinsing off or washing out with shampoo.
To make a simple homemade moisturizer, try combining equal parts of aloe vera gel and coconut oil. You can add essential oils like Lavender if desired.
This mixture can be used as a general moisturizer or applied to sunburned, irritated, or inflamed skin.
Have You Tried Aloe Vera for Your Skin?
With the recent rise in popularity of natural skincare, aloe vera has once again come to the forefront as one of the most beneficial natural ingredients for skin.
It hydrates, soothes, and softens skin while providing tons of nutrients to nourish and support healthy skin. Aloe is a great option for those who are prone to acne and equally good for both dry and oily skin types.
If you haven't tried aloe vera for your skin yet, buy yourself a plant, a tube of gel, or some aloe-based skincare products and enjoy its refreshing, cooling effect!