How Aleo Vera Gel benefits you
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When you skimp on the sunscreen (unintentionally, of course) and end up with a monster sunburn, chances are you turn to aloe vera gel to soothe your scorched skin. Because it brings so much relief during the healing process—almost like a gooey superhero—you’ve probably wondered what else aloe vera gel is capable of.
“Aloe vera is a cactus-like plant known for its healing and medicinal properties,” says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., Omaha-based board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. “Its stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance in the leaves, which contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids.” The gel from aloe has been used throughout history to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as burns, frostbite, psoriasis, and cold sores, research shows.
So does all the hype surrounding aloe vera gel mean you should make it a permanent fixture in your skin care routine? While research is currently limited on the benefits of aloe vera gel specifically, it does contain many well-studied vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and E, leading experts to believe that it may offer an assist to the products already in your arsenal.
Curious about its uses? Read on to discover all of the skin-saving benefits of aloe vera.
What is Aloe Vera Gel, Exactly?
Each triangular leaf of the aloe vera plant is composed of three layers, with the innermost layer containing a clear gel that’s made up of 99% water and roughly 75 potentially active ingredients, according to a review published in the International Journal of Research and Medical Sciences. The inner leaf juice is removed from the rind, either by machine or hand, and is cold-pressed to keep the active ingredients, well, active.
When it comes to solving specific skin issues, there’s not a lot of conclusive evidence on aloe vera’s efficacy, but “the biochemistry of aloe vera does have some anti-viral, anti-fungal, and cell-regenerative properties, so applying it to the skin in addition to other medications or remedies may prove to be helpful,” says Dr. Schlessinger.
What makes aloe vera gel so tricky to study is the fact that it contains oodles of promising ingredients that can improve the skin—so many, that it’s hard to hone in on the exact compounds and mechanisms involved. Plus, each study uses its own aloe vera composition, making it difficult to compare and contrast the research that’s completed.
But even though aloe vera gel won’t correct your skin issues on its own, when used in conjunction with other products, it may help speed the process along.
The Skincare Benefits of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel contains compounds called polysaccharides that encourage skin repair and new skin cells to set up shop, says Kenneth Mark, M.D., New York-based board-certified dermatologist and Mohs skin cancer surgeon. The gel also contains a pain reliever called carboxypeptidase, which may be why aloe vera is so soothing.
Relieve skin irritation
Inflammation underlies many skin conditions (think: psoriasis, eczema, and lichen planus), says Jennifer Gordon, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas. Aloe vera gel contains compounds, such as acemannan, that suppress inflammation by showing the enzymes that trigger it who’s boss. (Make sure to do a patch test before putting it on inflamed skin, as aloe vera can cause allergic contact dermatitis in some people.)
Because aloe vera gel is mostly water, it helps to hydrate the skin without that post-application greasy feeling, says Dr. Schlessinger. It helps lock moisture into the skin, while also acting as a glue that makes the top layer of skin cells stick together, ultimately smoothing and softening your skin.
Besides having serious antibacterial skills, aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant that helps to unclog pores, making it especially helpful if you deal with pimples and blackheads. Bonus: It also acts as an anti-inflammatory on the oil glands that cause acne, says Dr. Mark.
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