When it comes to skin care ingredients, some truly impressive ones are often overlooked (like manuka honey, for instance), while others are, well, a little overhyped. One ingredient that has amassed a large following for generations is aloe vera. This ingredient has been used in many different cultures throughout history for its healing properties and has been touted as a miracle ingredient for everything from treating acne to improving wrinkles, but does it deserve all the praise it gets?
Before you replace all your skin care products with a bottle of the green gooey gel, let’s break it down.
What Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing properties. It can come in powder, liquid, and gel form and can be found in products like creams, moisturizers, gels, and masks. The leaves of the aloe vera plant are made up of three layers: the inner gel or mucilage (which is 99.5% water), the middle latex layer, and the outer layer or rind. So how did aloe vera get its reputation for being a magical cure-all ingredient? That likely has to do with the fact that the other 0.5% is made up of a wide range of chemicals—more than 75.
Aloe is rich in vitamins, amino acids, polysaccharides, and phytosterols, so it has all these great, calming properties. Additionally, it has vitamins A, C, D, and E, and minerals, like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, so it really is this rich gel or extract that can be used for a variety of things.
Despite all the anecdotal testimonials about the miraculous effects it has on the skin, there's not enough medical research to support most of these claims. When it comes to its actual benefits, there are two main functions: to soothe and moisturize the skin. There are tons of uses for it, and it’s great for face masks and calming, but it’s not better than other things we have, like vitamin C and niacinamide. It’s a safe thing to use on the skin for hydration and anti-inflammatory, but it’s not an end-all, be-all.
Benefits of Aloe Vera for Skin
Although most of the claims are not proven through scientific studies, skin experts say that aloe vera does have a few main benefits:
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 transepidermal water loss (TEWL): Transepidermal 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. You can also credit the polysaccharides for the hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Promotes healing of breakouts: While it could possibly help to treat an acne breakout, thanks to the salicylic acid it contains, it's the moisturizing properties that make aloe vera beneficial for acne, seeing as a moist environment is better for healing. I wouldn’t put it on an active acne lesion, but after it’s already drying up when you get that dry healing, it helps moisten the dry skin and by the barrier it creates will help make the dry skin easier to cover with makeup.
How to Use It
If there is any benefit to using aloe topically, you are much more likely to get those benefits from using a treatment directly from a plant versus using a formulated product. The amount of aloe in formulated products varies widely, but the vast majority of products have only a tiny bit of aloe in them.
As previously mentioned, aloe vera comes in a powder, liquid, and gel form. The raw material typically starts out as a liquid or gel, depending on what type of plant extract they take. To make a powder, the water is evaporated off. But when companies make aloe products, they either add the powder to a liquid or add a diluted version of the stuff that comes from the plant. As far as how the different forms are used in cosmetics, there isn't much of a difference, but the decision is mostly an economical one.
For the best skin care products with aloe vera, look no further than Wild Naturals. Instead of using water as the first ingredient, Wild Natural’s uses organic aloe vera for added moisturization, along with many other natural ingredients like manuka honey, shea butter, hemp seed oil, and coconut oil. For the full benefits of Wild Natural’s skin care, visit our online store today!