For the first few years of my marriage, I lived on Curacao. Curacao is a small island in the mediterranean off of the north coast of Venezuela. I would spend every weekend at the beach. Laying by the blue water out on the white sand it was easy to forget to re-apply my sunscreen. Regretfully, one weekend I got particularly burned. My skin was red, tight and unbearably itchy. My husband walked down the street, cut off a green leaf from an aloe vera plant and brought it back home to me. He sliced it open and applied some of the thick latex to my burns. To my surprise, this application immediately provided a cooling sensation, freeing me from pain and discomfort. However, the uses for this plant are numerous and extend far beyond cooling a sunburn.
What the ancients knew
They named aloe vera “the plant of immortality,” and gave it to Pharaohs as a funeral offering. It was even used in the embalming process. Additionally, the Egyptian queens of the time bathed using this botanical in their beauty rituals to preserve their youth (Fowler).
2000 years ago, this gift from nature was recorded as a solution for any and all ailments. Dioscorides (Greek pharmacologist, physician and botanist) often used aloe vera as a treatment specifically for sores and wounds.
Know the signs
1. Broken or compromised skin
- Tight, dry skin that gets raw and red easily. Aloe can help to moisturize & soften (Gediya). What makes aloe such a capable moisturizer is it’s ability to stimulate hyaluronic acid production (Surjushe). Hyaluronic acid draws water from the air and your skin’s lower layers to the top softening/ hydrating. Aloe will also lessen any redness (Surjushe). Furthermore, this plant can reduce any itching you may be experiencing (Shenefelt).
- Sunburned skin is almost immediately cooled as I mentioned above. Aloe contains hormones that help with wound healing (Surjushe). Additionally, aloe contains an active component (polysaccharide) that creates a protective coating (Graf).
- Wounds find a friend in aloe with it’s ability to speed the healing process (Fowler).
2. Aging skin
- Fine lines and wrinkles are softened due to aloe’s rich moisturizing properties (Surjushe).
- Enlarged pores will seem smaller, because aloe has astringent properties that tighten.
- Slack skin starts to get it’s bounce back when aloe stimulates your own skin’s natural collagen and elastin production. These two proteins are responsible for your skin’s youthful resilience.
- Deep breakouts are usually uncomfortable and most of this discomfort is caused by the inflammation. Aloe vera is a strong anti-inflammatory (Fulton). The enzymes, fatty acids and hormones in aloe all contribute to calming inflammation (Surjushe).
- Discomfort is also alleviated through aloe’s analgesic properties (Fowler). This natural pain reliever will reduce the unpleasant feel of breakouts.
- Congested pores usually contain pimple causing bacteria. Aloe has an anti-acne effect through antibacterial properties (Surjeshe).
How can I utilize aloe vera?
Aloe vera contains natural saponins that clear away debris and antiseptic properties that make for a perfect cleansing agent (Surjeshe).
2. Toning Mist
As a mentioned above, aloe contains anti-bacterial and astringent properties. Both of these components are necessary to make up an excellent toner to clear away and tighten pores.
Anti-aging treatments have a strong ally in this powerhouse ingredient from helping with elasticity to providing antioxidant.
4. Acne treatments
From spot treatments to facial treatment masks, aloe will reduce all the symptoms caused by breakouts while strengthening skin that has been compromised.
5. After sun treatments
There’s most definitely relief in after sun products, but if you cannot find one without chemicals, opt for cutting off a leaf like we did!
It’s easy to see that nature has provided us with a dynamic skin care ingredient. Take advantage of this powerful plant’s properties to heal the changing landscape of your skin. Acne prone, aging and compromised skin can all find a friend in aloe. I use aloe throughout my facial treatments to address these common skin issues.
For those of you that are pregnant, The Bump says aloe can help relieve itchy stretching skin during pregnancy (Roman). Mayo Clinic states that topical use of aloe vera is likely safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, however ingestion is not recommended. Also, one study suggests aloe should not been used to heal cesarean section wounds (Shenefelt). As always, consult your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns or questions.
How have you used aloe vera?
Fowler, Jr., J. F., Woolery-Lloyd, H., Waldorf, H., & Saini, R. (2010, June). Innovations in Natural Ingredients and Their Use in Skin Care. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 9(6).
Fulton, Jr., J. (1990, May). The stimulation of postdermabrasion wound healing with stabilized aloe vera gel-polyethylene oxide dressing. Retrieved from Pubmed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2341661
Gediya, S. K., Mistry, R. B., Patel, U. K., & Jain, B. N. (2011). Herbal Plants: Used as a Cosmetics. Scholars Research Library , 1(1), 24-32.
Graf, J. M. (2015, December 11). Herbal Anti-inflammatory Agents for Skin Disease. Retrieved from Skin Therapy Letter: http://www.skintherapyletter.com/2000/5.4/2.html
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Drugs and Supplements: Aloe (Aloe Vera). Retrieved from Mayoclinic.org: http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/aloe/safety/hrb-20058665
Roman MD, A. (n.d.). Natural Ways to Take Care of Your Skin During Pregnancy. Retrieved from The Bump: http://www.thebump.com/a/skin-care-during-pregnancy
Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. (2008). Aloe vera: A short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4), 163-166.