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Have you been thinking about integrating aloe vera gel into your skincare routine but haven’t known how to exactly?
Do you use cosmetics that have aloe vera in them but you’re not sure how is the aloe vera benefiting your skin?
Have you been interested in using aloe vera on your skin and would like to find simple ways of integrating it into your routine?
In short, you’ve heard about the ‘aloe vera fuss’ and how wonderful it is for your skin but you’re not sure if you should give it a go, and, to top this, you’ve read and read online articles but get confused because there’s just a list of ‘aloe vera benefits’ that don’t make it easy for you to understand what exactly would this stuff be doing for you.
I hear you and that’s why I wrote this post.
Many people have told me they’re allergic to aloe vera gel so please please please test first if you’re one of them! I make skincare for people and I’d say at least 3% to 5% have told me they are allergic to it so before applying to your face/skin do an allergy patch test. Here’s how to do it.
Aloe Vera for Skin: Is it All a Myth, Or Should You Give it a Try?
I love aloe vera and I use the mucilage straight from the plant for sunburns, as a toner, as a moisturizer and the lot. I have so many aloe vera plants I’ve even thought of making jam with it!
I specialize in anti-age organic skincare and I’m always on the lookout for properties that can help mature skin stay plump, hydrated and looking healthy. I’ve had my eyes set on aloe vera gel for a long time now and can’t wait to show you how potent this ingredient is for mature skin as well as its anti-aging properties (amongst other things).
So much has been written about aloe vera on the Internet (remember when it felt like the entire World Wide Web was dedicated to Aloe Vera just a few years back?) I must say the info around its benefits can get a little overwhelming at times. Or confusing, or annoying to read because there’s so much to take in you end up not really knowing how to best integrate the gel into your skincare routine.
I like to keep things simple. You don’t have to get to know every single benefit, just learn the one benefit or two that you feel will make a difference to your skincare routine and to your skin. Maybe something the plant helps with that suits your particular skin condition/skin type. Over time you can expand into exploring the other myriad of benefits it has, but I recommend you start by simply using the aloe vera gel for something you think will be really good for your skin.
Having said that, the idea with this post is also that if you end up falling in love with the gel you grab yourself an aloe vera plant at some point in the future and take good care of it. You should love the plant, nurture it, and use it as part of your skincare regime once you feel comfortable with using the gel. At first it is better you buy yourself the pre-packed gel because handling the plant can be a little messy and I prefer you get well acquainted with the product at first (by the way, in this post I’ll be discussing only the gel – the bit inside the leaf, in the middle- and not the juice – also inside the leaf but close to the edge or border). **It can be grown indoors just about anywhere in case you’re worried about climate conditions. Also, it is easy to keep healthy because it doesn’t need much maintenance. I’m in zone 11 so I grow it outdoors.
When you buy your pre-packed product you need to make sure it contains at least 99% aloe vera gel (plus the preservative). Check my product recommendations at the end of this post.
A note if you’re buying the plant: aloe vera needs to be at least 4 or 5 years old in order to have the ideal properties for your skin. Please don’t buy a tiny aloe vera and start using it thinking you’re adding all this goodness to your skin because this won’t be the case. I understand if you use the leaves from the moment you get it but I’m not sure what sort of benefits young plants do actually provide. Just know that your plant would need to be at least 4 or 5 years old (fully developed) for the properties to be ideal.
What Does Aloe Vera Bring to Our Skin Exactly?
So, aloe vera gel is great for treating sunburns, it soothes, tones and helps with itching skin amongst a myriad of plenty other things. Let’s look at the benefits in more detail:
MOISTURIZING & HYDRATING PROPERTIES
- Is a great moisturizer!
- Has humectant properties
- Tones skin (a great toner also fantastic for oily skin)
- Combats signs of aging (being a great hydrator and moisturizer it can plump up wrinkles and fine lines)
- Lightens the appearance of blemishes
- Is an antioxidant (free radicals scavenger)
SUN PROTECTION / BURNS IN GENERAL / WOUNDS
- UV sun rays protector (during and after)
- Treats burns (it is known as the ‘burn plant” as it heals a wide variety of burns, from sunburns to more serious scalds)
- Wound healing (the gel can help soften skin around minor wounds as well as preventing dryness as they heal)
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY / ANTI-BACTERIAL / ANTIOXIDANT
- Is anti-inflammatory (soothes skin helping with redness)
- Is anti-bacterial/anti-microbial (can treat acne because of its anti-microbial properties; it helps kill the bacteria that causes acne)
HAIR / SCALP
- Conditions scalp and also hair (because of its salycilic acid content it can help remove dandruff build-up and can also decrease scaliness and itching in seborrheic dermatitis)
- Mouthwash to treat gums and teeth (dilute fresh aloe into a juice and use as a gargle, it will help with gingivitis, mouth ulcers and cold sores. you can also apply fresh gel to the gums to help with inflammation)
Well, here we go, blah blah blah with all the list of benefits which got you confused in the first place when you read the other aloe vera benefits articles. But, bear with me because we need to have them ‘on paper’ so we can go back to the list and discuss certain things.
For example, what do we learn regarding all of the above listed benefits?
For starters, we can easily see (the keyword being easily here!) how we should be using this stuff as part of 2 steps in our skincare routine: toning AND moisturizing. It could probably work really well on inflamed or reddened skin as well. I would stick to ONLY those benefits for now. Let’s keep things simple folks!
Ok, now let’s look at some info regarding proof and studies.
So; Do All of the Above Benefits Hold Up to Truth?
Well, let’s first have a look at the veracity of these claims. Not all studies show the aloe vera results people usually say it has. Some do, some show it hasn’t really had any effect. In the note above I explained that the plant needs to be of a certain age for the properties to be ‘ready’ for your skin, and I see many people using baby plants or not old enough plants which, I’m sure, won’t have the same effect.
I can’t say if scientific research has used young or older plants, so taking this into consideration together with other facts like the different species/varieties, terrains, weather conditions, etc, might have affected scientific findings and results.
Look: from experience I can tell you that every time I’ve rubbed the gel against my skin after I’ve been exposed to EXTREMELY HOT SUN (I live in subtropical weather) and so far I haven’t suffered from sun burn. For me, this is more than enough in terms of the gel being good for burns, at least from sunburn.
One of the guys that helps me growing fruit & veg suffers from really bad acne. He started rubbing the gel against the red lumps on his face and after just a few days his acne simply improved enormously. For me, this is enough proof.
I use it as a toner (by rubbing my skin with it after I cleanse) and I feel my skin really soft every time afterwords. For me this is enough proof that it softens my skin. I also feel my skin moisturized. For me, this is enough proof that it acts as a moisturizer.
So, the above shows that, in my personal experience, aloe vera has so far worked on sunburns, aggressive acne, feels smooth as a toner and has great moisurization properties.
So far, so good. Let’s move on.
How Does it Exactly Achieve All of these Benefits?
With 75 active components, the aloe vera plant is composed mostly of water and the rest is basically minerals, glycoproteins (which help cell regeneration, great for mature skin and wounded skin), salicylic acid (combats acne), flavones (an effective antioxidant, again, great for mature skin), polysaccharides (barrier protection, hydrating, anti-inflammatory, combats redness), 20 amino-acids (anti-inflammatory) and anthraquinones (UV protection, anti-microbial, anti-reddening, aloesin is an antioxidant – more great news for mature skin), hormones (aiding the healing of wounds) and 8 enzymes.
With vitamin s A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12 (A, C and E are antioxidants), it’s difficult to take in the amount of goodness that seems to be packed inside those pointy leaves.
*Here’s Why I Love it as an Anti-Aging Ingredient
What do we want to prevent aging skin? Sun protection!! (Check my article here on why skin ages).
Being a fantastic moisturizer as well as humectant aloe vera can plump up fine lines and wrinkles at ease. It will lighten the appearance of blemishes (a little like what Vitamin C does) and keep free radicals at bay because of its antioxidant properties (due to the flavones and aloesin). But wait, there’s more.
Sun is the number one offender when it comes to wrinkles, fine lines and the lot (again, read my article on this, I think it’s worth it). We want collagen to give support and strength to our skin and slow down the protein degeneration that happens over time. We want to keep elastin stretching nicely and we want those free radicals to be neutralized pronto! Aloe vera, basically, manages to activate the synthesis of collagen and elastin in our skin, stimulating the creation of new skin cells. Good news for mature skin.
What else can it do to help mature skin stay plump and healthy? It will keep the skin toned, reduce redness and help with inflammation as we saw above.
Aloe vera gel is PACKED of great stuff for mature skin and it I personally think it is a fantastic anti-age natural ingredient.
So, now that we know what it seems to be capable of, let’s take a look at how you can integrate it into your skincare routine which is why you’re here in the first place!
Enough Said, Let’s Use this Stuff!!
If you haven’t bought into the idea of aloe vera gel I suggest you keep checking blogs and articles til you do. The gel couldn’t be easier to get a hold of, it is incredibly inexpensive and you can even grow it yourself. The gel can be used straight from the plant. So here we find there are no complicated jargon or technical words behind its ingredients list (there’s just the one: aloe vera gel!) and you can’t get closer to using a plant’s ingredient that hasn’t been chemically extracted in a laboratory first (thus losing its ‘purity’ or ‘natural quality’) once you feel comfortable with it as an ingredient and get ready to buy a plant for future use. A little like getting a pet! : )
I don’t know about you but I find all of these incredibly exciting. And being as I don’t like complicated skincare routines either (as I grow older I keep it more and more simple) I most definitely LOVE having aloe vera gel as part of my boutique selection of ‘must’ natural ingredients to have at hand for my mature skin.
Let’s try an experiment together
A little ‘speech note’ from me:
Ok, here we go.
Get yourself a good pre-packed aloe vera gel and let’s do a little experiment together.
For one week we will use almost nothing else but aloe vera gel in our skincare routine (and sunscreen) and then assess the process.
Once more: for one week we will use almost nothing else but aloe vera gel in our skincare routine (and sunscreen) and then assess the process.
How does that sound?
I know, I know; we also need other steps which are usually a ‘must’ when it comes to a basic routine like serums, oils, vitamins, face masks, exfoliants, eye gels, et al, but, if you REALLY want to find out if this stuff IS FOR YOU, then you’ll need to try it for a while and reduce all other products you put into your skin as much as possible in order to do a fair assessment of how the ingredient feels and works on your skin.
So, one week is all we need to assess how we feel about this ingredient and remember aloe vera is a powerhouse of goodies that can virtually take care of each and every step within your skincare routine.
Don’t expect ‘visible’ results after one week though! Our skin takes 28 days for cell renewal and when we get older it takes over 2 months or more! I’m not suggesting you ditch all your products for such a long period of time which I think is asking for too much but…
ONE week should at least be able to show you the following:
- A ‘feel’ for the gel and how it works as an isolated product
- You’ll be able to assess softness and hydration from a few applications and, you will know this is the gel working on your skin (the experiment will not be clouded by other ingredients)
- You’ll be able to assess how sunscreen ‘sits’ on top of the applied gel as this is the only step we won’t ditch from the experiment
- You’ll be able to see how your skin feels after using almost solely 1 ingredient for 7 days (who knows, you might find out you’re using too many products or using products you don’t really need).
- You’re ‘attached’ to your routine and are scared of not using certain products for seven days
- You’ve got problematic skin and need particular products for your skin condition(s) (in this case I suggest you do use them)
- You’re curious about aloe vera gel but not curious enough to go through a whole week using it…
You’ll have to asses the above and come up with a decision but, if you don’t do the experiment, you’ll be back to reading articles and endless aloe vera benefits lists without ever knowing if this stuff is for you. What if you’re missing out on a golden nugget?
I’d say: go for it and learn from experience and not from what you read. In fact, if the experiment goes well, stretch it to 2, 3 and even 4 weeks. By then your cells would have regenerated and you’ll be able to see ‘what went on’ and the results.
Ok, with all of that our of the way, let me show you the SIMPLEST routine ever using aloe vera gel : )
Just use a facial washcloth (aff link) and clean your face with water or your regular cleanser.
TONING + MOISTURIZING
Now take some aloe vera gel and apply around your face, neck, décolletage area and back of hands. Apply as much aloe vera gel as you like. Massage for a while if you have time. It is very important we pamper ourselves as much as possible.
If you can, wait until it is absorbed into your skin.
Apply your regular sunscreen as per usual (here’s one I truly recommend but I think you’ll have to go to the UK site – aff link).
**OPTIONAL: NIGHTIME OIL
If you suffer from really dry skin or simply need more emolliency at night then I suggest you apply an oil as a step extra after you’ve put on the aloe vera gel as the gel might not be enough to moisturize you (it will be a good hydrator though).
How was your experiment?
What were your results?
How did your skin feel in general?
Do you think your skincare routine is a little ‘over-stepped’ now that you’ve tried something very simple with a simple, powerful ingredient?
You probably would have come to many realisations after 7 days using aloe vera and will have plenty of ideas on how to integrate it into your skincare routine from now on.
Your skin probably has also felt grateful for not having to put up with so many different ingredients from the different cosmetics. Just one simple, wonderful plant with plenty of benefits for the skin.
By understanding the aloe vera gel worked both as a toner and moisturizer, you can now decide how to integrate it into your routine from now on. Maybe you’d like to stick to a simple ‘aloe vera gel day’ once a week or once a month.
Maybe you will ditch your toner and use aloe vera gel instead and keep the rest of your routine the same. Maybe you ditch your moisturizer and use aloe vera mixed with a carrier oil of your choice (avocado, camellia, olive, etc, there are so many to choose from).
Maybe you’ll use aloe vera to mix your Vitamin C powder with and add it into one of your routine steps or maybe you will add essential oils to it and apply.
So many things you can decide now! So different to reading many articles on the different benefits and still not knowing what to do with it and ending up more confused than before reading the articles!
The Aloe Vera Gels I Recommend
Fresh from the plant or pre-packed if you can’t take care of the plant because of time/climate. Also remember what I said above regarding the age of the plant: the aloe vera plant needs to be at least 4 or 5 years before it reaches its peak in terms of properties.
Is the Pre-Packed Gel the Same as the Gel Straight from the Plant?
The gel straight from the plant is the most effective one because it has no additives.
What about the juice? Well, I’m not recommending it here because aloe vera juice won’t have the fatty acids or the oils from the plant, but, by all means, do try the juice instead if you like.
The Pre-Packed Gel
Here are my organic choices:
Want Your Own Plants?
Here we go:
I Also Recommend this Book:
Have You Become Friends with Aloe Vera Yet?
All of the above is no good if you don’t give it a try. Make up your mind once and for all and see if this supposedly great stuff is for you!
This link has recipes you can use, I really like the info on the page: