What comes to mind when you think of aloe vera? Is it hot days under the scorching summer sun, followed by an all-but-inevitable nasty sunburn, then topped up with a thick layer of the clear, soothing gel of this plant?
Okay, we know that’s oddly specific, but we all have to agree that this is the one use of aloe vera that most – if not all – of us can relate to. But the fact is, there’s so much more to aloe than just trying to reverse the dangerous ultraviolet effects of the sun.
(And just between you and me, the lobster-red look is definitely a no-go. While aloe can definitely help tame the ouch of a sunburn, it’s always best to try to prevent it in the first place with a thick layer of mineral sunscreen applied beforehand.)
While aloe vera does have a reputation for being amazing for healing burns, it’s actually so much more than a one-hit wonder in the beauty realm. In fact, this all-natural ingredient just might be your new go-to secret in your skincare arsenal. Let’s go ahead and break down the benefits of aloe vera for face health and radiant skin, friends.
What is Aloe Vera?
Before we delve deeper into all the incredible benefits of using aloe vera on your face, it’s important to first understand what exactly this humble little ingredient is. In brief, it’s the gel that comes from a type of cactus-like desert plant. (1)
It’s rich in a plethora of vitamins and minerals and other various enzymes, too. These include vitamin A (a known wrinkle-fighting powerhouse), vitamin C (another fantastic free-radical fighting antioxidant that also has impressive skincare benefits), and even salicylic acid (an exfoliant that can unclog pores and brighten skin). (2 & 3)
Usually found in hot and dry climates, the aloe vera plant has been used for literally hundreds of years for both treating burns and addressing other types of skin injuries. But its known health benefits are more than just hearsay and word-of-mouth parables passed down through the generations.
Numerous clinical studies have corroborated how valuable it is in treating and preventing a vast myriad of skin and health concerns, too. From eczema to acne, and even inflammatory bowel disease, you can literally use this natural skincare product all over (and inside!) your body. (4)
Pretty awesome, right? Well, we’re just skimming the surface here. Now that you know what aloe vera is, let’s go ahead and take a closer look at what the main aloe vera for face benefits are.
What Does Aloe Vera Do for Your Face?
We’ve probably got you all kinds of curious now as to what aloe vera can do for you. Sure, we’ve started to touch on some of the known benefits of using it, but you’re probably wondering, “Is aloe vera good for your face?” Well, yes – and now it’s time to really pick apart all of the wonderful things it can do for your skin!
Seven Amazing Aloe Vera Benefits for Your Face
So, what does aloe vera do for your face? These are just a handful of the impressive benefits of smearing aloe vera onto your face. If this doesn’t get you feeling stoked about incorporating it into your skincare routine, then we don’t know what will.
Benefit 1: Awesome healing abilities.
Aloe vera contains a couple of ingredients – namely glucomannan (a type of polysaccharide) and gibberellin (a type of growth hormone) – that can boost collagen and elastin synthesis in the epidermis. In turn, this can help accelerate healing and banish any existing injuries on your face. (5)
Benefit 2: The fountain of youth.
Remember how those two aforementioned ingredients (the glucomannan and the gibberellin) can increase collagen and elastin? Well, a lack of these proteins has been shown to lead to fine lines and skin laxity. Spurring the synthesis of it can help restore the youthful texture to your skin, highlighting yet another one of the incredible aloe vera benefits for face health and beauty. (5)
Benefit 3: Soft and moisturized skin.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but we’re still going to elaborate more on how amazing glucomannan and gibberellin are. Not only can they help restore structure and promote wound healing, but they can also create more hyaluronic acid. This means softer, more supple skin overall. (5)
Benefit 4: Advanced sun protection.
Sure, you already know you can use aloe vera after a nasty sunburn, but did you know that it can also help ward off that photodamage in the first place? This is believed to be due to a specific antioxidant protein (by the name of “metallothionein”) found in the plant’s gel. (5)
Benefit 5: Much less inflammation.
This is the part of the plant that makes it so world-famous for treating burns. Because aloe vera stands in the way of something called the cyclooxygenase pathway, inflammatory markers are reduced and skin looks less red and irritated following application. (5)
Benefit 6: A bullet-proof immune system.
Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but hear us out here. Aloe vera has been shown to influence your body’s mast cells, preventing histamines from gushing out of them. Combined with the naturally occurring salicylic acid, phenols, and sulfur, aloe vera can help stop breakouts before they start. (5)
Benefit 7: A secret cold sore slayer.
If you’ve never had a cold sore, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. But if you’re among the two-thirds of the global population with the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), then you’re going to love having aloe vera in your skincare routine. It’s been shown to help accelerate healing, banishing the unwanted lip lesion in a fraction of the time. (5)
Risks to Be Aware Of
Okay, we don’t want to cramp your vibe here, but we feel like it’s important to let you know that aloe vera isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sure, it’s an amazing skincare ingredient and you already know how it can transform your beauty game when you use aloe vera for face benefits. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any risks of using it.
Yes, it’s all-natural, but so are arsenic and cyanide and people who don’t use their turn signals. Granted, aloe vera isn’t exactly on those levels of danger (we wouldn’t be touting its virtues if it were!), but there are a few things you should know before rushing out and stockpiling it. So, what are the potential downsides of using aloe vera?
- Allergic reactions. While rare, some people do develop contact dermatitis from using aloe vera. (6)
- Drug interactions. Aloe vera can increase the absorption of certain types of steroids, such as hydrocortisone. It can also make certain heart medications (like digitoxin) less effective, as well. (2)
- Diabetic contraindications. Because it’s been shown to decrease blood glucose levels, it can affect dosage for those who take medication for diabetes. (7)
- Drying effects. If you leave aloe on your face too long, it can be a bit stripping. Just be sure to rinse it off after a few minutes, and you should be golden. (2)
All in all, these issues are fairly rare, and mostly niche. Of course, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before introducing any new products into your skincare regimen, but on the whole? You really can’t go wrong with adding aloe vera into your daytime or nighttime routine.
How to Use Aloe Vera For Maximum Results
Now that you know everything there is to know about aloe vera, we’re at the fun part: actually incorporating it into your skincare routine. While it’s tempting to want to dive into using aloe vera for face benefits head-first, we strongly recommend just dipping your toes into it until you know it’s going to be a good fit for you.
First and foremost, patch test. While the risk of an allergic reaction is super slim, aloe vera can cause redness, stinging, and irritation if you have extremely sensitive skin. Apply a dab of it on the inside of your wrist or your thigh, then watch for any possible reactions to it over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. (8)
Once you know you’re in the all-clear, you can then move forward with going all-in on it. From there, why not try an aloe vera face mask? Simply mix your aloe in with a non-comedogenic, natural vehicle, or apply it straight onto your face.
For instance, you can apply aloe vera as a gentle exfoliant, then chase it with a stem cell moisturizer. You can also apply it before using your favorite stem cell serum, too. The trick is to apply lighter ingredients first, then follow them up with heavier, more occlusive ones.
That said, we don’t recommend replacing your anti-aging eye cream with aloe, as it’s not going to be moisturizing enough. Furthermore, we don’t recommend applying aloe too close to the eyes. While it’s safe to use on your skin, it can burn like the dickens if you accidentally get some into your peepers.
If you’re going the DIY spa day route, you can use aloe vera for a luxurious day of spoiling yourself. Start by washing your face, applying your aloe vera gel, then rinsing it off with cool or lukewarm water. Apply your favorite collagen serum, then finish up your pampering sesh with a hydrating face mask.
On the note of rinsing the aloe off, bee-tee-dubs: if you do have acne-prone skin, we strongly recommend washing it off after a duration of time (say, twenty minutes to a half hour). Once you know you’re not going to get any breakouts from it, then you can feel free to increase the duration in which you keep it on your face.
We also can’t emphasize strongly enough to feel free to reach out to your doctor or dermatologist if you do have any specific skincare concerns, as well. While aloe vera has been shown to impart beaucoup benefits, it’s not a cure-all for everything under the sun. In other words, it’s not a replacement for medical care.
But by adding it into your skincare routine, you can start to notice a bunch of subtle (and maybe even not-so-subtle changes) in your skin’s tone, laxity, and health. As long as you keep an open mind about it, you’ll definitely be sure to be satisfied with all that it has to offer.
It would be a tiny bit pre-emptive to say that aloe vera is a miracle cure for anything and everything that ails you. After all, we’re not trying to misrepresent what it is and what it can do for you. We just happen to know that it does come with some pretty dang impressive benefits, and we would be remiss to not share them with you.
At the end of the day, though, you just need to remember that your skin is the biggest organ on your body and its job is more than just making you look beautiful. It’s also there to protect you from the elements and, y’know, keep that ol’ skeleton inside you hidden.
That said, if incorporating something as gentle and effective as aloe vera can help boost your confidence, then we’re all for using it. As long as you’re prudent about knowing what it can do – and you’re realistic about its limitations – then you’re understandably going to be more than happy to include it in your standard skincare routine.
The bottom line here? We just want you to believe us when we tell you this: you absolutely deserve to feel beautiful, no matter what you decide to do. And if that includes using aloe vera, then by all means… feel free to embrace your all-natural beauty, you indomitable, radiant stunner you.
Source 1: Aloe Vera https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/aloe-vera
Source 2: Aloe Vera: a Short Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
Source 3: Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/
Source 4: Protective and Therapeutic Effects of Aloe Vera Gel on Ulcerative Colitis Induced by Acetic Acid in Rats https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7402976/
Source 5: Massive proportion of world’s population are living with herpes infection https://www.who.int/news/item/01-05-2020-massive-proportion-world-population-living-with-herpes-infection
Source 6: Allergic contact dermatitis to Aloe vera https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17868225/
Source 7: Improvement of glucose and lipid profile status with Aloe vera in pre-diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled-trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4399423
Source 8: Contact Dermatitis, Patch Testing, and Allergen Avoidance https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170075/