Aloe vera (Aloe Barbadenis) belongs to the Liliaceae family. It is widely cultivated across the globe in dry or tropical climates.
Aloe vera gel is 98.5% water and contains over 200 nutrients that can be beneficial for skin.
For a start, it contains antioxidants, Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E together with B12, folic acid and choline. One of it's enzymes Bradykinase helps reduce excessive inflammation when applied topically.
Aloe Vera is also rich in minerals such as calcium, chromium, copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. The phenolic compounds of Aloin and Emodin; 2 of 12 anthraquinones found in aloe vera, are anti inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral.
The salicylic acid content in aloe vera contains anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Saponins which is the soap like substance in the gel also has cleansing and antiseptic properties.
Aloe vera gel can help combat acne thanks to the combination of its anti inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial enzymes. Its zinc content makes it a mild astringent which helps tighten pores. Salicylic acid and zinc are commonly used in acne treatment and aloe vera is a natural source of both compounds.
It's also used as a relief for sunburn or minor, first and second degree burns because it soothes and calms skin inflammation. Studies have also shown aloe vera to produce an antioxidant called Methallothionein in the skin. This protein scavenges free radicals thus reducing the effects of radiation or UV damage.
As a moisturiser, aloe vera on it's own does NOT sufficiently hydrate skin. It is not uncommon for pure aloe vera gel to be marketed as a moisturiser. I wrote an earlier blog on the fundamentals of moisturisers which explains how a skin moisturiser needs to contain occlusive, humectant and emollient properties.
Aloe consists of 98.5% water which means it lacks the necessary occlusive and humectant compounds that are essential for skin hydration. Without an occlusive agent it will simply evaporate from the skin, like water. The mild astringent properties also tightens rather than softens the skin.
Topical use of aloe vera is not usually associated with significant side effects. Oral ingestion however can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Also avoid use if pregnant.
Aloe's wealth of nutrients and antimicrobial properties makes it a valuable ingredient for overall skin health and the topical relief of burns and acne. It's no wonder that it's found in so many natural skincare products such as :
1) People for Plants Organic Hydration Gel
2) People for Plant's cleanser and make up remover
3) People for Plants organic moisturiser for sensitive skin
4) The Little Alchemist's Defence complex
5) The Little Alchemist's Kyella rose toner
6) Biologika organic deodorant
7) Orli's organic hand and body wash
8) Musq hand wash
9) Kester Black nail polish remover
For a full list, click here or simply type in "aloe" in the search bar on the Orli home page.