How Aloe Vera Can Benefit Your Skin

Life can be a bit prickly sometimes and this can translate into an increase in overall stress. It is well known that stress can have a direct impact on the condition of your skin, but just know that aloe vera has you covered. Aloe vera gel possesses many skin healing and soothing qualities.

What is Aloe Vera?

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species that can thrive in poor soils and where water is scarce, it’s origins trace back to tropical Africa and Arabia. Aloe vera is widely cultivated for it’s medicinal properties, it’s use spans across several thousand years. Applications of the plant have been recorded in ancient cultures of India, Greece, Rome and China.[1]

How Can Aloe Vera Benefit Your Skin?

Aloe vera gel derived from the leaf of the plant is what you’ll typically apply to the skin, either directly or added into skincare formulations. Note that while there is some evidence which displays the effectiveness of aloe vera as a topical treatment, most of these studies lack generalisability. Below are some of the key benefits of applying aloe vera to the skin;

Healing properties

Aloe vera has been observed to improve rate of wound healing and restoration of tissue integrity. Chithra et al. [2] found that aloe vera increases collagen content of wound tissue when administered topically or orally. Not only did the collagen content of wound tissue increase, but also the amount of type III collagen present. This type of collagen is responsible for promoting skin health and increasing the elasticity of the skin, along with type I collagen.

Accelerates burn wound healing

The effectiveness of aloe vera in healing burn wounds has been displayed in some small-scale scientific studies. Visuthikosol et al.[3] conducted a study where burn wound patients were treated with aloe vera gel, and a vaseline gauze. The patients treated with the aloe vera gel displayed significantly shortened wound healing time, highlighting the effectiveness of the gel in accelerating the wound healing process.

Antiseptic effect, can be applied on cuts

Aloe vera contains antiseptic agents such as salicylic acid, urea nitrogen and sulfur[6]. These agents possess bacteria and virus fighting properties, decreasing the probability of wound infection.[6]

Anti-inflammatory: can ease psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition which causes inflammation and redness, commonly affecting the knees, elbows and scalp. Hutter et al. [4] conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of aloe vera as an anti-inflammatory agent. Topical anti-inflammatory activity was seen comparable to hydrocortisone, a steroid commonly used by eczema and psoriasis patients to treat inflammation and itchiness.

Soothes sunburn

Not only does aloe vera accelerate burn wound healing, it also has soothing properties for those with sunburn. Applying aloe vera gel has a cooling effect, and it’s anti-inflammatory action works immediately to reduce the effects of sunburn. While aloe vera can help soothe sunburn, it provides no sunburn or suntan protection[5], ensure you apply a minimum of SPF 30+ with broad spectrum protection when stepping into direct sunlight.

Treats dry skin

Glycosaminoglycans (long chains of sugar molecules) that are present in aloe gel help to bind moisture to the skin.[6] A study was conducted by West et al.[7] to evaluate the effective of aloe vera in treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure. Results show that a uniform positive outcome was seen in improving skin integrity, decreasing wrinkling, and minimised erythema meaning it works to manage dry skin and irritant contact dermatitis. Note that this study was conducted on an entirely female sample, and on the hand as opposed to the face.

Anti-aging

Aloe stimulates fibroblast (the connective tissue in the skin), this promotes the production of collagen and elastin fibres which are responsible for the skin’s firmness and elasticity. By increasing these proteins, aloe vera can help to minimise skin wrinkles and fine lines, and tighten pores.[6]

Can help with inflammatory acne

Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory properties can help with those suffering from acne vulgaris, or common acne. Hajhedari et al[8] conducted a study where aloe vera gel was combined with tretinoin, also known as retinoic acid and applied topically to determine it’s effectiveness in treating mild to moderate acne. You may have heard of retinoic acid when researching retinol. Retinol serums are converted to retinoic acid when applied to the skin. The results displayed that tretinoic acid paired with aloe vera is an excellent treatment in treating and reducing the severity of inflammatory acne conditions.

How to use aloe vera gel on facial skin

Aloe vera gel is the most potent form of aloe vera, extracted from the thick, fleshy leaves on the plant. It’s completely safe to apply aloe vera gel to the skin, and pure gel will have optimal benefits when compared with some aloe extracts.

You can purchase the gel from many online vendors, consider buying 100% pure organic gel for maximum efficacy. If you’re in the gardening spirit however, maybe even invest in an aloe plant. They’re extremely resilient and will grow both outdoors and indoors; this way you can extract the gel directly from the plant.

Apply aloe vera gel at the end of your skincare regime; after cleansing your skin with a gentle, non-comedogenic facial cleanser and after any serums. Aloe vera has fantastic hydrating properties and easily absorbs into the skin, in some cases you might even be able to replace your moisturiser with aloe gel. Aloe has low risk of irritation, but always consider patch testing to check for any adverse or allergic reactions.

To sum it up

Aloe vera is a succulent plant originating from the Arabian peninsula whose gel has been used for many centuries for it’s healing qualities. Scientific studies display that aloe vera gel exhibits good wound healing, anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties. While the outcomes of these studies were positive, extensive research has yet to be done on the benefits of the plant. Pure aloe gel applied topically is the best and most effective way to use aloe vera, it can also be ingested in small quantities to improve digestive health.

References

[1] – https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/4192#tosummaryOfInvasiveness

[2] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9562243

[3] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7561562

[4] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8778246

[5] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19218914

[6] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/

[7] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12548256

[8] – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9562243