If you skim through some of the top-rated natural beauty products, organic juices, and diet supplements available today, you will notice a common thread among a majority of them: Aloe vera! This spikey, short-stemmed plant not only resembles a cactus but also shares the same succulent lineage.
Succulents fare best in dry, arid climates and require very little water to grow. No wonder then that this therapeutic find is also popularly termed as lily of the desert, given its ability to flourish in the sandiest terrains of the world, including the tropical parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and southern and western United States.
There are about 500 species of flowering plants within the aloe genus with short, prickly, dark-green or greyish leaves that enclose within them a clear, viscous gel. Enriched with a wide array of beauty-enhancing nutrients and enzymes, there is nothing quite like this gooey aloe nectar to fix a whole gamut of cosmetic concerns.
Other than its topical application, aloe gel is safe for consumption as well. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, you must know that it comes with a bitter taste, much like any other medicine.
However, don’t let that deter you from getting your regular fill of aloe vera juice. Just chug it down like a tonic and wait for the magic to unfold. If you still find yourself gagging at the very thought of it, there are aloe vera supplements available on the market that you can take.
The buzz around the astounding health and beauty perks of aloe vera is nothing new and has been established across centuries of verified use. Almost every ancient school of medicine has upheld and optimized the wide-ranging pharmacological properties of this wonder plant.
It was hailed as the “plant of immortality” by the ancient Egyptians. Aloe vera’s therapeutic caliber has indeed stood the test of time and has proven quite immortal.
Even today, the ever-growing use of aloe vera sustains a wide and extensive section of the beauty industry. You will be spoiled for choice if you go looking for pharmaceutical and beauty products with high levels of aloe vera extracts. While that is one way to upgrade and revolutionize your daily beauty regime, you can consider harvesting pure aloe vera gel straight from the source.
Reasons Why Aloe Vera is Beneficial for Your Skin and Hair
Here are some beauty benefits of aloe vera.
1. Prevents Premature Aging Signs
Aloe vera can help reverse signs of premature aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin to a considerable degree. Much of this skin damage is caused by free radicals.
Aloe vera is one of the best safeguards against the oxidative stress induced by these unstable molecules, given its abundant reserve of antioxidants that scavenge free radicals.
Aloe vera gel penetrates deep into the skin to keep it moisturized. Being a rich source of skin-friendly vitamin A, B, C, and E, it also helps enliven dull and worn-out skin. Also, the gel contains polysaccharides that stimulate skin regeneration.
A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that fresh aloe vera gel in varied concentrations showed improvement of the skin’s viscoelastic and hydration properties, which are important in fighting premature aging signs.
The study sheds light on the synergistic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and ultraviolet (UV) protective properties of the herbal plant.(1)
To keep your skin young, it is important to exfoliate on a weekly basis. To make an exfoliating mask:
- Blend 1 teaspoon of fresh aloe vera gel.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of ground oatmeal and a ½ teaspoon of olive oil in it.
- Apply this mixture on your face and neck area.
- Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Then, with wet hands, gently scrub off the paste.
- Finally, rinse your face and neck with cold water.
- Use this mask once a week.
2. Keeps Skin Moisturized
Aloe gel is composed of 96% water, qualifying it as a natural humectant. Needless to say, incorporating aloe gel in your personal care regimen can greatly restore the skin’s moisture and give it a smooth, glowing finish over time. Thus, aloe gel is a godsend for people grappling with parched, flaky skin.
Not just that, you oily-faced beauties can also take a piece of this action. Unlike regular moisturizers that often add to the greasiness of your skin, aloe gel easily penetrates into the skin and helps restore its pH level.
Being a great natural moisturizer, aloe vera keeps the skin well hydrated and enhances its elasticity. Well-hydrated and moisturized skin looks healthy and smooth.
A 2006 study published in Skin Research and Technology reports that freeze-dried aloe vera extract is effective at improving skin hydration, possibly through a humectant mechanism. Consequently, it may be used in cosmetic products for the treatment of dry skin.(2)
- Peel off the outer layer of an aloe vera leaf with a sharp knife and gently scoop out the gel.
- Massage the gel on your face, neck, and other body parts.
- Do this daily before going to bed.
3. Reduces Acne
Aloe vera works as an effective antibacterial agent that helps fight the bacteria responsible for acne. It also stimulates the growth of new cells.
Plus, it has healing and anti-inflammatory properties that help the skin heal quickly and reduce skin inflammation.
Another feather in aloe vera’s cap is the fact that it is non-comedogenic, which means that it won’t clog your pores. This is a particularly helpful attribute for acne-prone skin because clogged pores are at the base of most acne flare-ups.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment found aloe vera to be very effective for the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris.(3)
- Apply fresh aloe vera gel directly on the affected areas a few times a day.
- Fill an ice cube tray with aloe vera gel and freeze it. Rub a frozen cube on your acne to soothe the inflammation. Repeat this two or three times a day.
- Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel with a ½ teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice. Apply this mixture on the acne-affected area. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, and then rinse it off with water. Do this twice daily.
Along with treating acne, this natural herb is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis and eczema.
4. Treats Sunburns
Prolonged sun exposure leaves your skin painfully burned, irritated, and red due to a breach in the skin’s barrier. A generous coat of aloe gel on your aggravated skin can serve as a protective cover for your sensitive skin.
The cooling and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera help alleviate much of the discomfort associated with sunburned skin. Plus, the gel helps retain the skin’s moisture level, which facilitates the speedy healing of the burned epithelial layer of the skin.
A 2008 study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology notes that aloe vera gel displayed anti-inflammatory effects, which justify its use in the topical treatment of inflammatory skin conditions, such as UV-induced erythema.(4)
- Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel directly on the sunburned area and allow it to dry on its own. There is no need to rinse it off. The gel quickly penetrates into the skin and does not have a greasy feel.
- Alternatively, mix 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and the juice of half a lemon. Massage the mixture on the sunburned skin in circular motions. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water.
5. Minimizes Apparent Stretch Marks
Ugly stretch marks can steal away the beauty of your skin. Although it is difficult to get rid of stretch marks completely, you can minimize their visibility to a great extent with aloe vera due to its potential of increasing skin elasticity.(5)(6)
Aloe vera can help reduce the visibility of stretch marks by restoring the skin’s elasticity and repairing skin damage.
- Mix together equal amounts of aloe vera gel and rose water.
- Apply it on the stretch marks and massage gently in circular motions for a couple of minutes.
- Keep it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Finally, rinse it off with cool water.
- Do this twice daily.
6. Promotes Hair Growth
In addition to the skin, aloe vera gel is also good for your hair health.
Besides helping your manes grow long and strong, it also removes dead cells from your scalp that can clog your hair follicles, and reduces dandruff. Plus, aloe vera can help maintain the pH balance of your scalp, which is essential for keeping your locks healthy.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research reports that the enzyme content of aloe vera prevents hair loss by protecting the scalp against many diseases. It also aids in the reduction of dandruff.(7)
- Mix aloe vera gel and castor oil in the ratio of 2:1.
- Gently massage the mixture onto your scalp.
- Leave it overnight.
- The next morning, wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.
- Do this twice a week.
7. Heals Minor Burns, Wounds, and Insect Bites
The anti-inflammatory and antiseptic nature of aloe vera makes it an effective healing agent for minor wounds, small cuts, bruises, and insect bites.
A 2007 study published in Burns expounded upon the skin repair effect of aloe vera and proposed it as an effective intervention for treating first-to second-degree burns.(8)
A recent 2016 study published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery reports that topical application of aloe vera improved the biochemical, morphological, and biomechanical characteristics of the healing cutaneous wounds in rats.
This treatment option may also prove to be valuable in clinical practice, although further studies are warranted to conclusively establish this claim.(9)
- Cut open an aloe vera leaf and extract the gel.
- Put the gel in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Apply the gel directly onto the affected area.
- Repeat this two or three times a day.
8. Treats Cracked Feet
Cracked feet can take away the beauty of your feet. To bring that beauty back, you can always rely on aloe vera.
Aloe vera has moisturizing and antibacterial properties, which make it an excellent treatment for dry and cracked heels. Plus, it helps get rid of dead skin cells and aids in skin cell regeneration.(10)(11)
- Mix together 4 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and ½ cup each of oatmeal and gram flour.
- Rub the paste all over your cracked feet and massage your feet gently.
- Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
- Rinse it off with warm water.
- Use this foot mask once or twice a week to prevent and treat cracked feet.
Additional Benefits of Aloe Vera
Lightens Dark Lips
Aloe vera can also be used to lighten your lips and make them soft and supple. It helps to exfoliate the layers of dead skin cells to reveal fresh, new layers of rejuvenated soft skin. Moreover, it works to moisturize chapped lips, making them appear lighter than before.
- Rub aloe vera gel regularly on your lips to lighten and soften them.
- For a weekly treatment, mix 1 tablespoon of coarsely powdered rice with enough aloe vera gel to make a paste. Rub this homemade scrub on your lips gently for 5 minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water. Use this lip scrub once a week.
Works as a Natural Makeup Remover
Commercial makeup removers can be full of harmful chemicals that can strip your skin of its natural oils.
As important as it is to take your make up off before calling it a day, the dearth of nontoxic cleansers in the market often leaves one in a dilemma. This is where aloe gel steps in, which, along with a whole list of other beauty benefits, also scores highly as a natural makeup remover.
The slippery nature of the gel can easily collect makeup residue and leave your skin squeaky clean. What’s more is that it even renders a naturally luminous hue to your skin.
- Put a dollop of pure aloe vera gel onto a cotton ball.
- Swipe the cotton ball all around your face to remove your makeup.
- Finally, rinse your face with water, pat it dry, and apply a light moisturizer.
- Binic I, Lazarevic V, Ljubenovic M, Mojsa J. Skin Ageing: Natural Weapons and Strategies. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569896/. Published January 29, 2013.
- Dal’Belo SE, Gaspar LR, Maia PM. Moisturizing effect of cosmetic formulations containing Aloe vera extract in different concentrations assessed by skin bioengineering techniques. Skin Research and Technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17026654. Published November 2006.
- Hajheydari Z, Saeedi M, Semnani KM-, Soltani A. Effect of Aloe vera topical gel combined with tretinoin in treatment of mild and moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, prospective trial. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23336746. Published April 2014.
- Reuter J, Jocher A, Stump J, Grossjohann B, Franke G, Schempp CM. Investigation of the Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Aloe vera Gel (97.5%) in the Ultraviolet Erythema Test. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/114871. Published February 5, 2008.
- M LSP and PDFPDFOPFAEof ASSon SEHand CSA12-WD-BRCTT, Y Y, E M. Effects of Aloe Sterol Supplementation on Skin Elasticity, Hydration, and Collagen Score: A 12-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/454718. Published 2016.
- Cho S, Lee S, Lee M- J. Dietary Aloe Vera Supplementation Improves Facial Wrinkles and Elasticity and It Increases the Type I Procollagen Gene Expression in Human Skin in vivo. Annals of Dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883372/. Published February 28, 2009.
- Kumar KPS, Bhowmik D, Biswajit. Aloe vera: A Potential Herb and its Medicinal Importance. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. http://www.jocpr.com/abstract/aloe-vera–a-potential-herb-and-its-medicinal-importance-12.html. Published January 30, 2010.
- Maenthaisong R, Chaiyakunapruk N, Niruntraporn S. The efficacy of aloe vera used for burn wound healing: A systematic review. Plum X Metrix. https://www.burnsjournal.com/article/S0305-4179(06)00702-9/abstract. Published September 2007.
- Oryan A, Mohammadalipour A, Moshiri A, Tabandeh MR. Topical Application of Aloe vera Accelerated Wound Healing, Modeling, and Remodeling: An Experimental Study. Annals of Plastic Surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25003428. Published January 2016.
- Grundmann O. Aloe Vera Gel Research Review. Natural Medicine Journal. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2012-09/aloe-vera-gel-research-review. Published September 2012.
- Surjushe A, Vasani R, Saple DG. ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW. Indian Journal of Dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/. Published 2008.