Aloe vera skin benefits are numerous, and the healing properties of aloe vera are widely used to help treat a variety of skin conditions. While it’s popular in modern skincare, it may surprise many to learn that that the aloe vera plant was first used more than 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt.
Romans were known to use aloe as far back as the reign of Emperor Nero. A physician in the Roman Army (though Greek by birth), Pedanius Dioscorides wrote several books on using plants as pharmaceuticals and he highlighted the use of aloe for the treatment of countless illnesses.
While the Egyptians used aloe vera as an adjunct beauty treatment, the Chinese used the properties of aloe vera in medicinal treatments as far back as the time of Marco Polo expeditions. Early Chinese treatment books referred to aloe vera as the “method of harmony” for the healing role it played in their everyday life.
In addition to the Chinese, the Japanese also embraced the value of the aloe vera plant, where it was often called “the royal plant.” The Japanese even used the liquid from the plant as an elixir, and Samurai used it to relieve pain.
As Christopher Columbus was discovering new worlds, he kept aloe vera plants growing on his ships, using it as a healing potion for his mercenaries. And Spanish Jesuit monks were using the properties of the aloe plant during the 16th century.
At the same time, various tribes of the Americas were using the plant for healing. In fact, aloe was one of the 16 “holy plants” worshiped by the indigenous people, bestowing a gold-like status on it. They used it as an insect repellant, as well as on various surfaces like wood that would otherwise be damaged by insects.
The aloe vera plant has a distinctive look, and appears as a cactus-like succulent with short stems that store water in its leaves. It’s easy to recognize due to its pointed, thick green leaves that can grow anywhere from 12 to 19 inches. But it’s what’s inside those leaves that have turned aloe vera into a time-tested favorite.
Inside each leaf you’ll find a unique, slimy tissue where water is stored, and which gives the plant’s leaves their distinctive thickness. That “slimy” tissue is the gel that is used in aloe vera products. And the gel is what contains the various beneficial compounds like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.
Aloe is one of the most famous plants found in nature, used across various industries including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food. But the aloe vera skin benefits are what have people searching for and demanding more products containing aloe’s healing properties.
In order to help you understand how aloe vera helps to keep skin looking its best, it helps to learn how the plant’s ingredients and properties work. So here’s some background info designed to show you why the aloe vera plant is so important to keeping skin looking radiant and youthful.
The gel from the aloe vera plant has some powerful antioxidant properties, which are part of the polyphenols family. In addition to providing antioxidants, the plant has antibacterial properties that can help prevent the growth of harmful types of bacteria.
Antioxidants help to protect the skin by reducing or preventing the production of free radicals, harmful atoms or groups of atoms that can damage skin cells. These free radicals have unpaired electrons, which makes them unstable and highly reactive. They can be formed by natural body processes or as a result of the environment, including sunlight, heat and chemicals. Free radicals tend to cause oxidation, which causes damage to cells from oxygen.
The most remarkable action of antioxidants is that they help to repair damaged skin from the inside out, rather than from the outside in like moisturizers. They also encourage tissue and cell growth while helping to protect cells from the negative effects of free radicals. Bottom line: by staving off free radicals you can reduce the amount of wrinkles on your body, which helps to keep the skin youthful in appearance.
Antioxidants help the body repair itself, which is extremely important to skin cells that are constantly growing. And any antioxidant that is able to promote cell growth could play a key role in the anti-aging process by helping to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
As an antioxidant, aloe vera contains many active enzymes, minerals and vitamins - more than 75 to be exact. These include key vitamins A, C and E, which help to fight the damaging effects of free radicals. So far, scientists found 160 important ingredients in the aloe vera leaves.
What these scientists have discovered is that the healing properties of the plant aren’t due to one single ingredient but rather it is based on the collective effect of the combined ingredients within the plant. The essential properties found within aloe vera compliment each other to provide the plant’s remarkable healing effects.
The human body needs a complex variety of amino acids in order to rejuvenate cells, but can’t produce the amino acids itself. The aloe vera plant provides a minimum of seven of the eight key amino acids that the body requires, as well as 20 of the 22 required amino acids that the body needs, helping to prevent severe medical problems. Aloe vera also has many other essential amino acids that work to keep the body healthy.
The vitamins within aloe vera aren’t the actual key to the healing impact of the plant, but it’s what they do synergistically with the plant’s other ingredients that make them so crucial. These vitamins include B1, B2, B6 and B12. Vitamin C found in aloe vera is key to strengthening the immune system, and helps to stop premature aging and the effects of toxins on the body. This is what helps to prevent and even reverse the aging process.
In addition, the plant contains vitamin E, which helps to reduce the harmful impact of free radicals while helping protect the cells of the body from premature aging. And unlike any of the other vitamins, the skin acquires more benefits from topical administration of vitamin E than getting it via supplements.
Vitamins are only part of the key ingredients found in the aloe vera plant. It also has critical minerals and micronutrients that help to keep the body healthy. Some of the minerals found in aloe vera include magnesium, which is often called the “anti-stress” mineral. Manganese works to help the body detoxify itself, while selenium works with the body’s cells to destroy free radicals. Without selenium, the body’s cells tend to age faster.
Another mineral found in aloe vera is zinc, which helps protect the body from free radicals, while working to boost the immune system. By helping protect the body from free radicals, skin cells will retain their ability to produce collagen while maintaining their elasticity.
As an antioxidant, aloe vera works hard to combat free radicals. Ultimately, this helps to slow the aging appearance of the skin. And early studies show that it can provide anti-aging effects on the skin by improving collagen production and skin elasticity.
But aloe vera goes far beyond simply improving collagen production and skin elasticity. When skin has been damaged by UV radiation via sunlight, aloe vera gel was reported to have a protective effective against the UV damage. While the exact role it plays isn’t known, it appears to provide an antioxidant protein that is generated in the skin, which helps prevent UV-induced suppression of skin hypersensitivity.
Aloe vera has also been shown to have significant healing properties. When applied to wounds, it was able to speed up wound contraction and also increased the breaking strength of any scar tissue that resulted from the injury. It also promotes healing through its anti-inflammatory action, and works to stimulate cell rejuvenation by supporting the production of collagen, while helping new skin cells to multiply faster.
Another well-known benefit of topical application of aloe vera gel is its moisturizing and anti-aging effects. Because aloe stimulates fibroblasts, which produce the collagen and elastin fibers, it makes the skin appear more elastic and much less wrinkled as a result. The gel also works on the superficial epidermal cells by binding them together, softening the skin. Amino acids found in aloe vera also help to soften the hardened skin cells, providing a moisturizing effect on the skin.
One additional benefit of aloe vera gel is its antiseptic action. Because it contains lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid and sulfur, the gel helps to stave off fungi, bacteria, and viruses. It has also been shown to help prevent and treat acne.
How does aloe vera help prevent or reverse the aging effects on the skin? The answer is collagen. Aloe vera has been shown to increase collagen production in the skin, which helps with wrinkle reduction and a more youthful looking, radiant skin.
Collagen is the most prolific protein in our bodies, and is found in skin, bones, muscles, and organs - just about everywhere in the body. It provides skin with elasticity and also replaces dead skin cells.
As we get older, our bodies tend to produce less and less collagen, which is why the elderly have sagging and wrinkled skin. That’s where aloe vera gel can help, because it stimulates collagen production in the skin. The additional collagen produced by using aloe vera gel can significantly improve your skin’s elasticity, and thereby remove and reverse wrinkles and the appearance of old age.
In fact, aloe vera helps to rebuild the collagen in skin more quickly and can even prevent the body’s existing collagen from breaking down because of aloe vera’s fast regeneration of the fibroblast cells.
For centuries aloe vera has been used as an anti-aging treatment, and now scientific research is showing the chemical basis behind how it works. In addition to boosting collagen production, aloe vera gel also hydrates the skin and boosts the skin’s elasticity, reducing the amount of fine lines and wrinkles.
Throughout this article we’ve been talking about the topical application of aloe vera. But there are some who try to gain the benefits of the aloe vera plant by drinking it. The issue is what you are using the aloe vera to treat.
Some use aloe vera juice for constipation, help with digestion, to boost the immune system, improved hair growth, weight loss and other purposes. In addition, some people drink the juice for inflammation and skin problems, but there is little research to show that ingesting the aloe vera can help with skin problems the same way topical application does.
Drinking the juice can also negatively impact certain prescription medications. Consuming the juice can also lower a person’s blood glucose levels to a dangerous level.
Most importantly, if the goal of aloe vera is to use as an antioxidant to fight off free radicals, or for skin inflammation or wound healing, a topical application would be far more effective. While topical aloe vera can help skin regain its elasticity and reduce wrinkles, there is no elixir available anywhere, including aloe vera juice, that restores a more youthful appearance or younger looking skin - or we would all be drinking that right now!
If you’re suffering from the effects of the aging process and seeing more lines and wrinkles than you’d like to - then it's time to begin a regimen of topical aloe vera. Don’t worry, it won’t take the full 90 days to see the aloe vera skin benefits and a more radiant appearance!