Aloe barbadensis, or aloe vera has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant, and it has been proven to have several benefits for the skin. This succulent plant is rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which make it a popular ingredient in skincare products.
In this article, we will explore the functions, properties, and benefits of aloe vera in skincare.
It is a succulent plant which offers many benefits and is suited for all skin types, especially dry, damaged, broken, sensitive and irritated skin. It offers anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, humectant and soothing, anti-itch qualities for skin.
According to https://www.cosmeticsbusiness.com, “More than 400 aloe species have been described, mainly occurring in Africa. The best known representatives are Aloe vera and Aloe ferox, which are of great cosmetic and medicinal value. Topically, aloe is used for burns, wound healing, psoriasis, sunburn, frostbite, inflammation, osteoarthritis and cold sores. It is also applied topically as an antiseptic and as a moisturizer.”
Composition and nutrition of aloe vera
Aloe vera contains vitamin B complex, folic acid, vitamin C and carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Aloe vera leaf juice is commonly used in cosmetic formulations, and is composed of mainly water, along with polysaccharides, anthraquinones, amino acids, glycosides, minerals, flavones, phytosterols and salicylic acid.
- Polysaccharides give aloe its hydrating, emollient and anti-inflammatory benefits, while creating a protective barrier on the skin.
- Aloe contains a large number of anthraquinones, which offer antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics.
- Flavones offer further protection from free-radical damage.
- Phytosterols are anti-inflammatory, which calm and soothe itchy skin, also moisturizing and protecting the skin from trans-epidermal water loss.
- Glycosides promote healthy cell regeneration and offer antihistaminic (anti-allergen) properties, while vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids nourish the skin.
The Different Aloe Vera Extracts Used in Natural Skincare
Aloe vera produces two substances which are commonly used in the medical and pharmaceutical world: gel and latex.
Aloe gel is a jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf, and it is clear in color. Aloe latex is yellow in color, and it is sourced from just under the plant’s skin.
Aloe in cosmetic use is often in liquid or powder extract form and derived from aloe gel, the inner part of the aloe leaf. Aloe is often used in medicine, alternative medicine and cosmetics industries, for its moisturizing, healing, skin soothing and rejuvenating properties.
There are several types of aloe vera extracts that can be used in natural skincare. Here are some of the most common:
Aloe vera gel:
Aloe vera gel is the most common type of aloe vera extract used in skincare. It is extracted directly from the inner leaf of the aloe vera plant and is known for its hydrating and soothing properties.
Aloe vera juice:
Aloe vera juice is another type of aloe vera extract that can be used in skincare. It is made by crushing and grinding the entire aloe vera leaf and filtering out the pulp to create a clear liquid. Aloe vera juice is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often used in toners and face masks.
Please note: Commercial aloe vera gels are actually aloe vera juice with thickeners added. When making your own cosmetics, we would also advise you to use commercial grade aloe vera rather than a direct extraction from the plant. By doing this, you can be certain about the quality and suitability of the extract for cosmetic purposes.
Aloe vera oil:
Aloe vera oil is a concentrated form of aloe vera that is extracted using a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil. It is important to note that aloe vera oil does mot produce an oil but it does have oil-solble components. These components are extracted by maceration where dried plant materials (in this case, leaves) are infused in an oil such as jojoba or sunflower oil. The oil-soluble compounds are infused into the carrier oil to create an aloe vera oil. It is often used in serums and creams and is known for its anti-aging properties.
Aloe vera powder:
Aloe vera powder is made by dehydrating aloe vera gel or juice and grinding it into a fine powder. Aloe vera powder is often used in face masks and exfoliants and is known for its cleansing and detoxifying properties.
Aloe vera extract:
Aloe vera extract is a more concentrated form of aloe vera that is made by extracting the active ingredients from the plant using solvents or other methods. Aloe vera extract is often used in high-end skincare products and is known for its anti-aging and skin brightening properties.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of aloe vera extracts in skincare products can vary depending on the quality of the extract and the concentration used. It is always best to choose natural and organic skincare products that use high-quality aloe vera extracts for maximum benefits. Of course, the best way to get the most out of your products, is to make them yourself 🙂
The Functions and Properties of Aloe Vera in Skincare
Aloe Vera is commonly used as an ingredient in moisturizers, serums, and creams because of its hydrating properties, which is its core function.
One of the most significant properties of aloe vera is its ability to soothe and hydrate the skin. Aloe vera contains polysaccharides, which help to lock in moisture and prevent dehydration. This makes it an excellent ingredient for people with dry or dehydrated skin.
In addition to its hydrating properties, aloe vera is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, C, and E, which are all essential for healthy skin. Vitamin A helps to promote cell turnover, while vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Aloe vera also contains minerals like zinc, which helps to promote healthy skin.
Another property of aloe vera is its anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera contains compounds like acemannan, which help to reduce inflammation in the skin. This makes it an excellent ingredient for people with sensitive or inflamed skin.
The aloe plant exhibits many pharmacological activities such as “antioxidant, antimicrobial, immune boosting, antitumor, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, wound healing, and antidiabetic.” (Maharjan and Nampoothiri, 2015)
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Aloe is likely safe when applied to the skin to reduce pain or inflammation. Aloe is likely safe for burns, frostbite, human papilloma virus-1 (HPV) infections (cold sores), psoriasis, and wound healing in people who are not allergic or sensitive to aloe. Medical attention should be sought for severe burns, wounds, or frostbite.” (Mayoclinic.org)
Aloe is reportedly well tolerated in most individuals, even children. The Mayo Clinic describes cases of aloe vera assisting healing of a variety of conditions including:
- Dry skin
- Psoriasis (inflammatory skin condition)
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Skin burns
Benefits of Aloe Vera in Skincare
Here are some of the most significant benefits to using aloe vera in your skincare products:
Aloe vera is an excellent ingredient for people with dry or dehydrated skin. It helps to lock in moisture and prevent dehydration, which can lead to dryness, flakiness, and irritation. To find out more about formulating for dry skin, read our article, Formulating Natural Skincare Products For Dry Skin: Causes, Characteristics & Our Top Recommendations.
Aloe vera is a humectant that helps to soothe and soften the skin, creating a smooth and soft appearance.
Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants, which help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. By using skincare products that contain aloe vera, you can help to reduce the signs of aging and promote healthy, youthful-looking skin.
You might like to read our article, Formulating Natural Skincare Products For Mature or Aging Skin: Causes, Characteristics & Our Top Recommendations, for more information on this topic.
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an excellent ingredient for people with sensitive or inflamed skin. It can help to reduce redness, irritation, and inflammation.
We wrote an article to help you understand more about sensitive skin which you might like to read – The Benefits of Using Natural Skincare Products For Sensitive Skin: Why You Should Switch to Non-Toxic Beauty.
Aloe vera has antibacterial properties, which make it an excellent ingredient for people with acne-prone skin. It can help to kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation.
You’ll find an article on our website that dives deeper into oily and acne prone skin called How to Achieve Healthy, Glowing Skin: Skincare Tips for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin.
Aloe vera has been used for centuries to treat wounds and burns. It contains compounds that help to promote healing and reduce inflammation, making it an excellent ingredient for people with wounds or burns.
How to Use Aloe Vera in Skincare
There’s a lot of myths and misconceptions about aloe vera and how to use it in natural skincare. It is really important that you use the correct extract in the product you are making because not all extracts work in all products. It is also important you source aloe vera from a proper skincare ingredient supplier, rather than directly from the plant which is something that we’ll explain in a moment.
When it comes to formulating with aloe vera, you need to know what type of aloe vera to use in what quantity to bring about the desired result. If you get this wrong your product won’t work and you likely won’t understand why.
This is something we teach students of our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation and by enrolling you can learn how to successfully incorporate aloe vera and other extracts into your formulations. Click here to find out more and to enroll.
To get you started though, here are some of the most popular methods:
Aloe vera gel:
Aloe vera gel is the most common form of aloe vera used in skincare. You can use aloe vera gel in a moisturizer. You can also mix aloe vera gel with other skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin C for added benefits.
Aloe vera juice:
Aloe vera juice can also be used in skincare. You can mix aloe vera juice with other ingredients (like witch hazel, flower waters and/or glycerin) to create a toner.
Aloe vera extract:
Aloe vera extract is a more concentrated form of aloe vera that can be used in skincare products like serums and creams for added hydration and anti-aging benefits.
Aloe vera oil:
Aloe vera oil is an infused oil where chopped and dried leaves are infused in a carrier oil such as sunflower oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil to extract the oil-soluble compounds found inside aloe vera. When infusing aloe vera, the leaves need to be dried to ensure no water content remains.
Aloe vera butter:
Aloe butter is a concentrated form of aloe vera that is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it ideal for use in moisturizing creams and lotions to soothe and hydrate dry or irritated skin. Aloe Vera Butter is another type of maceration, just like aloe vera oil. Instead of an oil, such as sunflower oil, a carrier oil that is more solid is used, usually with coconut oil. This produces a soft-solid butter which melts on contact with the skin. INCI: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract.
Aloe vera powder:
Aloe vera powder is often used in exfoliating scrubs or face masks to help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.
Considerations and Contraindications When Using Aloe Vera in Skincare
While aloe vera is generally safe for use in skincare, there are some precautions you should take when using aloe vera.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Some people may be allergic to aloe vera. If you have never used aloe vera before, do a patch test before using it on your face. Apply a small amount of aloe vera to your inner arm and wait 24 hours to see if you have any adverse reactions.
Not all aloe vera products are created equal. Look for products that use high-quality aloe vera and avoid products that contain fillers or synthetic ingredients.
Aloe vera can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. If you use aloe vera during the day, be sure to apply sunscreen to protect your skin.
If you take aloe vera supplements, be sure to follow the recommended dosage. Taking too much aloe vera can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and other digestive issues.
Common Mistakes People Make When Formulating With Aloe Vera
While aloe vera is a natural and safe ingredient for most people, there are some common mistakes that people can make when using it in skincare products.
Here are a few to be aware of:
Not patch testing:
Aloe vera can cause allergic reactions in some people, so it is important to patch test any new skincare products that contain aloe vera before using them all over your face or body. Apply a small amount of the product to the inside of your wrist or behind your ear and wait 24-48 hours to see if any redness, itching, or swelling occurs.
Using too much:
While aloe vera can be beneficial for the skin, using too much can actually have the opposite effect and cause irritation. It is best to follow the instructions on the product and use only the recommended amount.
Using low-quality products:
Not all aloe vera extracts are created equal. Using products that contain low-quality or heavily processed aloe vera extracts can be less effective and may even contain harmful chemicals or additives. Look for natural and organic sources of aloe vera and high-quality aloe vera extracts.
Not giving it enough time:
Aloe vera can take some time to work its magic on the skin, so don’t expect immediate results. Consistent use over time is necessary to see the full benefits of aloe vera in your skincare routine.
Not using it correctly:
Aloe vera can be used in a variety of ways, including as a gel, juice, oil, or powder. Make sure to follow the correct guidance on how to use the extract, when to use it, in what quantity and in which type of product you can use it.
Using the correct type of aloe vera extract in the correct product:
This is also an important consideration when using aloe vera in natural skincare. Different types of aloe vera extracts have different properties and are best suited for specific types of skincare products.
By avoiding these common mistakes and learning how to formulate properly with aloe vera you can effectively incorporate aloe vera into your natural skincare formulations and enjoy its numerous benefits for healthy, glowing skin.
Some Top Tips When Formulating With Aloe Vera
So we’ve looked at some common mistakes, but how about some top tips to help you formulate properly with aloe vera?
All of this and much more is covered in our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation, and in much more detail too, but this should help you for now.
- Use The Correct Aloe Vera Extract:
Using the correct type of aloe vera extract in the correct product can help to maximize its benefits and ensure that you are getting the most out of your natural skincare routine. It is also important to note that not all aloe vera extracts are created equal, and some may be more effective than others. It is best to look for natural and organic products that use high-quality aloe vera extracts.
- Know How Much Aloe Vera To Use:
Knowing how much aloe vera to use in your skincare products is also an important consideration when incorporating this ingredient into your formulations.
Using too little aloe vera may not provide the full benefits of this ingredient, while using too much can lead to skin irritation or other adverse effects. It is important to follow high standards of guidelines set out by industry which you will learn about in our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.
The amount of aloe vera needed may vary depending on the specific product and the concentration of aloe vera extract it contains. It is also important to note that some products may have other ingredients that interact with aloe vera, affecting how much is needed.
By using the correct amount of aloe vera in your skincare products, you can help to ensure that you are getting the full benefits of this powerful natural ingredient without risking any adverse effects.
- Know When To Add Aloe Vera In The Product Development Process:
You also need to know when to add aloe vera in the product development process so that you formulate your products properly and minimize mistakes that ultimately lead to failed products that don’t have the required texture, consistency, and efficacy, or provide the maximum benefits of aloe vera for the skin.
Aloe vera extract can be added at different stages of the product development process, depending on the desired product and formulation. Some factors to consider when deciding when to add aloe vera include the type of product being developed, the form of aloe vera extract being used, and the other ingredients in the product.
For example, if developing a cream or lotion, aloe vera extract can be added during the emulsion process when combining the oil and water phases. This allows the aloe vera to be evenly distributed throughout the product.
If developing a toner or mist, aloe vera extract can be added during the water phase of the formulation process to ensure even distribution.
When developing a powdered product such as a face mask or exfoliating scrub, aloe vera extract in the form of powder can be added during the blending of the dry ingredients.
It is important to note that aloe vera extract should be added slowly and gradually, while testing the pH level of the product throughout the formulation process. This helps to ensure that the final product has the desired pH level and the aloe vera extract is properly incorporated.
How To Formulate Natural Skincare Products With Aloe Vera
As we’ve discovered in this article, aloe vera is a versatile and beneficial ingredient in skincare. Its hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties make it an excellent ingredient for people with all skin types. Whether you use aloe vera gel, juice, oil, powder or extract, incorporating high quality aloe vera extracts into your skincare formulations can help to promote healthy, glowing skin.
Aloe in its liquid or gel form is water-soluble and works well as an addition or base ingredient to facial toners, mists or spritzers. It also makes a nice addition to lotions and creams, by adding in the water-phase in place of water as an ingredient.
Liquid aloe is often used in cosmetics in dilutions of 15-20%, to ensure proper preservation is maintained. In alternative medicine, aloe compresses are often applied to skin directly at concentrations between 10-70%, sometimes higher, as few people show irritation or sensitivity to aloe.
Aloe vera gel juice typically has a shelf life of one year, and refrigeration can help extend the shelf life and quality. The composition of aloe makes it prone to contamination and spoil from microorganisms, therefore its use in products should always be accompanied by a preservative system, and GMP (good manufacturing practices).
If you are passionate about natural & organic beauty and want to formulate your own natural skincare products from scratch, like a professional, then you’ll want to join our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation.
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Enroll onto our Diploma in Natural Skincare Formulation and within a few months, you’ll understand the practice, art and science of natural skincare formulation, have a range of professional quality products made by you to showcase to your friends and family…and who knows…perhaps the beginnings of your own natural beauty brand??
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