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Aloe vera is a common household plant known for its skin healing properties. Using aloe vera on the face can help moisturize skin.
A person can use the gel directly from an aloe vera plant or buy a bottled variety from a health store.
This article explains how to use aloe vera for the face and looks at the benefits, the conditions it treats, and potential risks.
Using aloe vera on the face has benefits because:
- its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce pain, swelling, and soreness of wounds or injuries
- it supports the production and release of collagen
- it can speed up wound healing time and limits scarring
- it reduces the healing time of first-degree and second-degree burns
- it is effective in treating fungal and bacterial infections
- it has an antioxidant effect that can help repair sun damage and slow down the aging process of the skin
- it protects the skin from the damaging effects of radiation therapy
- it contains 98% water, which helps moisturize, soothe, and hydrate the skin
- it helps to make the skin more flexible and supple, rather than stiff and leathery
- It has a cooling effect on rashes or sunburns
People have used aloe vera for centuries as a treatment for various types of skin disorders and injuries. Some of these conditions include:
When buying an aloe vera product, avoid products with added ingredients, such as alcohol or other chemicals. These can have harmful effects on the skin.
The easiest way for a person to obtain fresh aloe vera gel is to keep a plant in the house. Aloe vera plants are often available from local garden stores or online.
There are 420 different plant species of aloe. Most aloe-based products contain gel from the Aloe barbadensis miller plant.
Follow these steps to extract the raw aloe gel from the plant’s leaves:
- use a sharp knife to cut off a leaf from the plant as near to the root as possible
- rinse the leaf and lightly pat dry
- place the cut side down in a bowl and leave it for about 15 minutes to allow the yellow aloe vera latex to drain out and discard it — this has laxative properties and may not suit everybody
- cut the narrow pointed end off from the top of the leaf
- drain the latex again if necessary
- press the leaf to help it soften
- cut the ‘spines’ off both sides of the plant as close to the edge as possible
- lay the leaf flat and slice it down the center from tip to tip, or for bigger leaves, cut the outer green layer off
- gently scoop out the gel using a spoon or knife blade — very large aloe leaves may contain solid blocks of gel
- wash the gel carefully to clean it of any residue
- place the gel in a sealable container and refrigerate before use
- store the container of gel in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze the aloe vera gel in ice cube trays
Always do an allergy patch test before applying aloe vera to the face. Apply a small amount of gel to the inside of the wrist to check for a reaction. Wait 24 hours. If the skin starts to itch, swell, or change color do not apply aloe vera to the face.
Anyone with concerns about using aloe vera as an alternative treatment for skin conditions should speak to a doctor.
Anecdotal evidence provides the following tips for how to use aloe vera:
After washing the hands, use the fingertips to apply a small amount of the gel to the face. Gently cleanse the face with the aloe vera using a circular motion, covering all the skin. Rinse with cool water and gently pat dry. Follow with aloe vera skin toner.
To make an aloe vera skin toner, mix 2 parts water with 1 part aloe vera gel. Pour into a clean airtight bottle and store it in the refrigerator. Shake well before applying the toner to the face using a fresh cotton ball.
Insect bite treatment
Wash the affected area well with soap and water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Cover the area with aloe vera, leaving it on the skin for 15–20 minutes. Reapply as needed.
For minor skin wounds or cuts
Wash the area well with soap and water and allow it to dry. Apply a small amount of aloe vera to the would or cut. Cover the area with a bandage and allow it to heal overnight. Repeat this process the next day if needed.
Apply a small amount of the gel to the area three times a day for 2 weeks.
For moisturizing effect and eczema relief
Apply a small amount of the gel to the face and leave it on for 5–10 minutes. Rinse off with cool water and gently pat dry.
For acne spots and rosacea
Make an acne solution using 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel with 2–3 drops of fresh lemon juice. Store the mixture in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. After gently cleansing face, apply a small amount to acne spots and scars once or twice a day.
Alternatively, combine aloe vera gel with several drops of tea tree oil.
Apply chilled aloe vera gel two or three times a day to the sunburned area. Use for several days, or until the skin color has returned to normal and inflammation has improved.
Alternatively, mix 2 parts water to 1 part aloe vera to make a spray. Keep the solution in the refrigerator. When using the spray, avoid the eyes.
For minor burns
Apply just enough chilled aloe vera gel to coat the burn completely. Cover the burn with a bandage. Remove the dressing the next day.
Applying aloe vera gel to the face does not have associations with any serious health risks. However, some people may experience an initial stinging or burning feeling after using the gel on dry or sensitive skin.
Leaving aloe vera gel on the face may cause it to dry out. Rinse the gel off after a few minutes to avoid this effect.
Some people may experience an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) to topical aloe vera. Always do a patch test first to check for sensitivity before using it on the face.
Experts generally consider it safe to use aloe vera on the face.
There are few, if any, in-depth clinical studies for the possible adverse effects of long-term use of aloe vera products.
Aloe vera is a popular vitamin-rich plant that has skin healing properties. Aloe vera is safe to use on the face for many skin conditions, such as eczema, rosacea, or minor wounds.
Obtain the gel directly from an aloe vera house plant or buy it pre-prepared.