Anyone with acne knows how inconvenient (at best) a breakout can be. Although our individual acne symptoms—like pimples—will eventually go away, sometimes a scar can stick around for weeks or even months. Professional treatments like micro needling, dermal fillers, lasers, and chemical peels can be very useful in reversing the indentations left by scars, but your wallet will be happy to know that an inexpensive, all-natural ingredient can also help improve the appearance of scarring: aloe vera.
To learn what aloe vera can do for acne scars, and how to get the most out of the ingredient, keep reading!
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient found in the aloe plant and is sold in powder, liquid, and gel form. It's made up of a whopping 99.5% water, as well as polysaccharides, amino acids, vitamins, lipids, and enzymes. The high-water content helps restore water into the skin; however, overuse can actually dry out the skin as the natural exfoliating properties of aloe's enzymes can potentially over-strip if used too often.
Benefits of Aloe Vera for Acne Scars
- Repairs the skin:
Aloe vera is a wonderful natural option for reducing the residual injury to skin caused by acne or other wounds. Like scars found elsewhere on the body, acne scars occur when a breakage occurs in the skin. Even if you don’t pop or pick your pimples, you may still notice scarring if the clogged pore beneath the breakout expands so much that the follicle wall breaks.
Fortunately, aloe vera can help heal those scars over time thanks to its natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are studies that have shown aloe vera to increase growth factors for fibroblasts—the cells that make collagen. It’s possible that this is the pathway that allows aloe to improve wounds and scars, via the production of enhanced and increased collagen fibers. It’s a great alternative remedy following burns or skin injury too.
- Heals wounds and inflammation:
There are also studies that have supported the use of aloe vera to improve wound healing, and to decrease skin inflammation. Aloe vera has been shown to decrease a chemical called thromboxane, which is known to inhibit or slow down wound healing. Aloe also contains magnesium lactate, which is a chemical that decreases histamine and can decrease itching and irritation.
- Soothes the skin:
Aloe vera is best used for soothing itchiness or irritation. Aloe vera is a great added bonus to use in conjunction with your other calming products.
- Prevents trans epidermal water loss (TEWL):
Trans epidermal water loss occurs when the skin gets dehydrated, which causes dryness and inflammation. The phytosterols soothe itchiness and irritation and prevent trans epidermal water loss, which is really important when you have a sunburn or a windburn.
- Cools and hydrates the skin:
For burns, it creates a better barrier for the skin while cooling it and hydrating it. The reason aloe vera extract is so hydrating is the fact that it's 99.5% water. The polysaccharides also take credit for the hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Another main benefit is a small level of moisturization. It wouldn’t be my go-to for eczema or psoriasis, although it has been shown to help it. It can give a moisturizing effect, just not a healing effect.
How to Apply Aloe for Acne Scars
Aloe vera is available in a number of forms, from drinks to gel to supplements, so which formula is the best for healing acne scars? Oral intake of aloe vera likely does not have the same wound-healing properties as the topical forms, so it’s recommended topical use. To apply aloe to the skin, start by washing your face and drying it with a clean towel. Then, apply a thin layer of aloe vera to the affected areas on your skin and allow it a couple of minutes to dry before following up with your usual skin care routine.
While aloe can work well on its own, some people may see better results if it's used in tandem with specific products. For acne, it can be used in conjunction with traditional acne medications nightly, which will aid in curbing irritation and dryness, and potentially improve residual scars and marks.
One product sticks out above the rest: retinol. A 2013 study showed that aloe vera gel was used in conjunction with tretinoin (a retinoid) and was found to be more successful in treating the acne, and more successful at improving the appearance of skin with less irritation, than tretinoin alone.
As with anything we put in or on our bodies to treat a medical issue, there’s always the risk of experiencing side effects, but when it comes to aloe vera, there are very few. There’s always a consideration for contact allergy, so use a small amount in a discreet location to test your sensitivity first.
If you’ve applied aloe vera to your skin and notice redness or itching, carefully remove as much as you can and discontinue use immediately. If you have sensitive skin and worry that you may have an adverse reaction to aloe vera, reach for products with the highest percentage of pure aloe possible as some may contain fragrance, which can result in irritation, or reach for fresh aloe from an actual mature aloe plant.
Aloe Vera Products for Acne
If you’re looking to try aloe vera for yourself but aren’t quite sure where to start, Wild Naturals has you covered. From aloe vera being the first ingredient in every one of our products, we recently unveiled a new Aloe Vera Gel and a new Aloe Vera Hand Gel (used as a natural alternative hand sanitizer)! Visit our online store for the best natural skin care products online!