The market for beauty and wellness has expanded greatly in recent times. With the myriad products now made available to us, it is not surprising that a host of different reactions to different substances have cropped up over the years, which is why many people are turning back to more traditional approaches.
Aloe vera is one such plant that has come up in many discussions. This cactus-like plant has been used for many things from sunburns to weight loss and constipation. The sap that is produced from breaking off a leaf is known for its soothing properties but can aloe vera be used as a moisturizer?
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a short-stemmed to stemless plant with thick, fleshy leaves. Overall, the plant resembles many cacti with its fleshy leaves edged with small teeth. The clear sap yielded from breaking off a leaf has been traditionally used in many conditions such as burns and even alopecia or baldness.
The plant is a member of the genus Aloe and grows in tropical and mostly arid climates in the world. It has been used as a decorative plant and has been known for its medicinal properties, although some of its uses are still under study.
How is Aloe Vera Use?
The sap and the latex of the aloe vera are used for various purposes.
Although the effects of ingestion of aloe vera extracts remain controversial, with some studies even claiming that it could be toxic, its dermatologic effects are well-documented.
Topical application of aloe gel has been found to be helpful in treating acne and burns. According to studies, an anti-inflammatory compound called C-glucosyl chromone has been recently extracted from aloe vera, which explains its soothing effects on irritated skin.
Can Aloe Vera be Used as a Moisturizer?
Aloe vera contains mucopolysaccharides that help in binding moisture to the skin, so yes, aloe vera can be used as a moisturizer. Most of the aloe vera moisturizers on the market are made by mixing the clear sap found within its fleshy leaves with other emollients, although you can also apply this directly to your skin.
Because of its effects in the stimulation of fibroblasts in producing collagen and elastin fibers, aloe vera has additional anti-aging and anti-wrinkle properties. No wonder the ancient Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality”!
The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera are also helpful for dry and irritated skin such as those found in certain conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. On superficial flaking, it exhibits a cohesive effect, which makes the skin feel softer.
Also, aloe vera contains certain amino acids that soften the skin.
In a study of factory assembly-line workers suffering from dry skin, dry-coated aloe vera gloves produced positive results. These gloves gradually released aloe vera extract and were shown to improve skin integrity and decreased redness, which made it ideal for treating occupational dry skin and contact dermatitis caused by irritants in the workplace.
Is It Safe?
Applied topically, pure aloe vera has been shown to have very minimal negative effects. However, you should watch out for commercially prepared aloe vera moisturizers or cosmetic products as your skin could react badly to other ingredients included in the product along with the aloe vera such as fragrances, parabens, and alcohol.
The ingestion of aloe vera is more controversial and I would advise you to avoid it, as much as possible. In a study on rats, aloe vera has been linked to changes in the cells of the large intestines with frequent ingestion, suggesting a carcinogenic effect.
In another study, purified decolorized whole leaf aloe vera mixed with the drinking water of rats showed no ill effects. There were no cell changes noted in the large intestines of the test animals in this study. However, in those given non-decolorized aloe vera, diarrhea and tumors in the colon were noted.
With the results of these studies, I would advise you to steer clear of aloe vera in dietary supplements.
Making Your Own Aloe Vera Moisturizer.
There are many commercially-prepared aloe vera skin products available on the market. It is especially popular because of its non-greasy consistency and its soothing properties on irritated or burned skin. As long as you are not allergic to the other components of these products, they are safe to use.
They are especially helpful for sunburns, razor burns acquired from shaving, and for those with oily skin. Because aloe vera locks in moisture to your skin, it is best used after bathing with your skin still damp.
Some aloe vera gel and a bit of coconut oil in making your own concoction
If you want to try the DIY route, you can also make your own aloe vera moisturizer at home. All you will need is some aloe vera gel and a bit of coconut oil in making your own concoction. You can also add some drops of essential oils like lavender or peppermint to your moisturizer and even some vitamin E oil for an added boost.
To make the aloe vera moisturizer, you will need an aloe vera leaf, carefully washed and dried. Gently scoop out the gel from within the fleshy portion of the leaves and throw them in the blender until it becomes a frothy concoction.
Mix in about a third to a half cup of virgin coconut oil to your blended aloe and whisk it until you get a fluffy consistency. You can add a few drops of essential oil in between whisks, as well as a teaspoon of vitamin E oil to give your skin more nutrients.
Voila! You have your own aloe vera moisturizer. Store it in a small glass jar and keep it in a fridge. This moisturizer can last for several weeks.
Aloe vera has been used for many skin conditions, mostly because of its anti-inflammatory properties. They have been found to be effective on burns and acne.
Aloe vera contains mucopolysaccharides which bind moisture to the skin. In addition to that, it also has anti-aging properties. If you have oily skin, an aloe vera moisturizer will seal in the moisture without making your face too oily. It is best to take advantage of its ability to lock in moisture by using it after bathing with the skin still damp.
Did you find this article helpful? Do you also use aloe vera as a moisturizer or for other conditions? Let us know in the comments below!
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