Aloe vera is great for skincare and wellbeing, it has many uses from after-sun to laxative and can be applied topically to the skin or digested for internal use. It is a popular ingredient in many skin, hair and cosmetic products as it is very skin-friendly with a low risk of causing allergies, sensitivity or skin reactions. The plant has been scrutiny to scientific research with many studies being conducted to investigate its benefits.
We particularly like using fresh aloe vera in conjunction with our Réunion Cleanser, Hammam Moisturising Serum and Mańana Shave Oil products.
Brief History of Aloe Vera
The Aloe vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties.. the Egyptian queens, Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great, and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers’ wounds. the Greek scientists regarded Aloe vera as the universal panacea and the Egyptians called Aloe “the plant of immortality.” It has been used in the West as a laxative since the early 1800’s and was successfully used to treat chronic and severe radiation dermatitis in the 1930s and has become ever more popular as a skincare ingredient since.
The Aloe Vera Plant
Aloe Vera generally goes under the botanical name of Aloe barbadensis miller (although it has a few variants that sound very similar) and is a succulent from the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family. It grows mainly in the dry regions of Africa but can also be found in Asia, Europe, America and some areas of India.
The Aloe vera leaf is composed of three layers:
The outer thick green layer
A middle layer of latex which is the bitter yellow sap - has been found to have toxic properties and can cause skin irritation. Stay clear of this if using at home.
The inner clear gel. This clear gel is where the action is for skincare and health benefits. The gel consists of 99% water and the rest is made of glucomannans, amino acids, lipids, sterols and vitamins.
Aloe Vera Skin Care Benefits
Aloe vera contains 75 potentially active constituents.. High in vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E (antioxidants). It contains vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline. It is also contains enzymes, minerals, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids and all 18 amino acids. So plenty there for your skin to get excited about.
Moisturising and Anti-aging
Mucopolysaccharides help in binding moisture into the skin
Aloe stimulates fibroblast which produces collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled
Has cohesive effects on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together, which softens the skin
The amino acids soften hardened skin
Zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores
Anti-acne effect - works best on superficial surface acne rather than cystic or deeper acne
Glucomannan, a mannose-rich polysaccharide significantly increases synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid after topical or oral use, this helps wounds heal more quickly
Aloe vera includes many anti-inflammatory compounds including Polysaccharides, C-glucosyl chromone, anthraquinones and Phytosterols making it a good choice for flammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and dermatitis
Antiseptic, Antifungal & Antiviral
Aloe vera contains 6 antiseptic agents: Lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols and sulfur. They all have inhibitory action on fungi, bacteria and viruses. Thus it’s claimed effectiveness with cold-sores.
Has been found to be bactericidal against staphylococcus aureus which can cause boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis, and toxic shock syndrome. Streptococcus viridans and five strains of streptococcus mutans which are the cause of dental plaque and other dental infections.
All these properties help Aloe vera gel to be effective against cases of dermatitis, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions as well as soothing when we experience the effects of too much sun.
How To Use Fresh Aloe Vera At Home
We are a big fans of using fresh aloe vera straight from the plant, as this way, it is not affected and altered by the preservatives required to maintain the ingredient within a commercial skincare product. We recommend using aloe vera in the morning before moisturising withHammam Serumand in the evening after cleansing with ourRéunion Cleanser. All of the properties mentioned above make it a great toner; astringent, pore tightening, moisturising, refreshing and anti inflammatory. It's especially good for after shaving with ourMańana Shave Oil, before moisturising.
There are a few ways to use fresh aloe vera and there are plenty of videos online demonstrating how to dissect a large aloe leaf to fillet the gel. But this is the way we like to use it..
Cut a leaf or a few leaves from a plant you have in the house
Run a little cold water shallowly into a glass beaker
Place the aloe leaves in the beaker, they will keep fresh here for some time
Keep these in your bathroom where you go about your skincare routine
Remove the top from the leaf so the clear gel is showing
Squeeze a small amount of aloe gel from the leaf, rub into hands and apply to face as required. It’s useful to roll the leaf between your fingers to help the gel release.
Make sure to avoid any of the yellow latex part of the plant
Have a go yourself at home and report back.. We would love to hear about your experiences using this plant!
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