If you’ve ever had a sunburn – and even if you haven’t – you’re probably familiar with aloe. Its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory and soothe the skin has made it not only a go-to sunburn treatment but also one of the most prolific ingredients in skincare.
It can also hydrate, which is why it’s been used on the skin for centuries. Aloe vera leaves are rich in water. And its sugars, known as mucopolysaccharides, help the skin lock in that moisture.
Aloe is particularly effective at treating sunburns because it’s a natural antiseptic agent, which means it stops or slows the growth of microorganisms and helps stave off infections.
Aloe as an acne treatment?
That much you may already know. Lesser known about aloe is that its antibacterial properties are also useful for treating minor cuts and wounds, as well as acne. Yep, you read that correctly. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering aloe’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
But those aren’t the only reasons aloe could be beneficial to acne-prone skin. It’s also a natural source of salicylic acid, which can tamp down flare-ups. In fact, a study showed that aloe vera combined with tretinoin (also known as Retin-A), a retinoid that’s commonly prescribed for the topical treatment of acne, was more effective than tretinoin by itself in treating acne lesions.
However, that’s not the case with every formulation that includes aloe vera. Some may clog the pores or irritate the skin, so it’s important test a new product on a small area before fully incorporating it into your skincare regimen.
Opt for pure aloe over products with aloe
You should also be extra careful about the kind of aloe you’re buying. While aloe does live up to the hype, you can reap all the benefits only if you’re using 100%-pure aloe vera gel. If it’s listed as an ingredient in a formulated product, it’s likely there to make the other ingredients more tolerable, not to take advantage of aloe’s inherent qualities.
And typically, only a small amount of aloe is used in such products.
By using only 100%-pure aloe vera gel, you can be certain of its quality. Even then, be aware that a little goes a long way. For instance, if you use it on your face, treat it like a mask rather than a moisturizer and rinse it off after 10 minutes. Any longer and it could lead to irritation and dryness.