Aloe vera - The Low Down

This is the first of our 'The Low Down' series where we delve into the detail of some common ingredients in skin care.

Aloe vera has been used for centuries for its medicinal and skin care properties. It is commonly used in skin care products because of its emollient (skin softening and smoothing) effects.

Although the aloe plant looks like plants of the cactus family, it's actually from the lily family. There are over 200 species of aloe vera but only a handful of these have active ingredients. The main Aloe used in products is Aloe barbadensis miller.


Aloe is grown mainly in hot, dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Australia.


The aloe leaf is 99% water. Aloe gel is the clear thick jelly-like substance found in the center of the leaf while aloe latex (juice) comes from just under the skin of the plant.

Aloe gel has over 75 nutrients and 200 active compounds including:

  • minerals including magnesium which is an important component of the natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of the skin. It also prevents the formation of histamine that is responsible for allergic reactions associated with itching and discomfort
  • amino acids including essential amino acids that the body can't make
  • vitamins including Vit A, C and F which are powerful anti-oxidants
  • enzymes which catalyse chemical reactions in the skin and also produce pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects
  • phenolic compounds which are anti-microbial and also analgesic (pain relieving)
  • lignin which has the ability to carry other active ingredients in skin products deep into the skin tissue
  • salicylic acid which has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties


Aloe gel can be used topically - applied to the skin - or taken orally.


The aloe gel is useful for

  • sunburn
  • acne
  • insect bites
  • dry skin
  • rosacea
  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • burns
  • genital herpes


Taken orally, aloe may be in the gel or latex form or a mixture of both. The latex form of the aloe plant is more likely to be toxic and should not be taken in high doses.

Aloe has the following effects when taken orally:

  • eases heartburn
  • can lower blood sugar levels in diabetes
  • treats gum disease
  • helps joint aches and pains
  • acts a a general detoxification agent acting on the liver and kidneys


So, as you can see, aloe vera has a number of beneficial properties.

If your skin care products contain aloe vera, then your skin will not only feel soft and smooth but there will be additional benefits because of the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the aloe. If your skin is irritated, then the pain relieving properties will help. Infection will be kept at bay by the anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.

The low down on Aloe vera - it gets a five star review from us

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