Aloe vera, a turbo-charged cactus
Aloe vera comes from the Liliacee family, a group of succulent plants that are bursting with juice, nutrients and polysaccharides. They can grow up to 80cm high and 1m wide and their chunky leaves contain the highly-prized aloe vera gel. Aloe vera is a semi-desert plant that flourishes in hot, dry climates. It's been used since time immemorial as a medicinal and cosmetic treatment for burns. As with most cacti, aloe vera leaves contain 99% water. Add to that its 200 powerful active ingredients including 12 vitamins, 20 minerals, 18 amino acids, enzymes and proteins. In other words, it's one of the most amazing plants on Earth! When used in its purest form (you can buy pure aloe vera gel or grow it yourself), it sticks to skin and can feel a bit gloopy. Which is why you may prefer to apply treatments that include it in their formulae.
The benefits of aloe vera on skin
Aloe vera has taken the beauty world by storm thanks to its skin-friendly properties. Nowadays you'll find it in day/night creams, hydrating treatments, serums and body lotions:
- Soothing: aloe vera soothes irritated skin, inflammation caused by sunburn), itchiness and insect bites/stings.
- Purifying: aloe vera's powerful enzymes exfoliate the epidermis to get rid of dead skin cells, giving our circulation a boost and allowing our skin to breathe and regenerate.
- Balancing: aloe vera has a pH value close to that of skin, meaning its gel maintains and redresses our skin's pH levels when they're out of sync.
- Healing: when applied to skin, aloe vera boosts skin cell renewal, which means it quickly heals scars and can help treat other minor injuries.
- Anti-ageing: aloe vera has firming properties that increase collagen and hyaluronic acid production, whilst combating the appearance of wrinkles.
- Protective: even though aloe vera gel is quickly absorbed, it leaves behind a protective film that protects skin from wind, salt and pollution.
Aloe vera to hydrate skin
Healthy skin = hydrated skin. Thanks to its high water, mineral and vitamin content, aloe vera is the perfect hydrating ingredient. Being a desert cactus, aloe vera survives by stocking water in its leaves. And manages to do the same with our skin! Aloe vera gel deeply hydrates and nourishes skin: it crosses the epidermal barrier to nourish the dermis and hypodermis. What's more it can harness water on our skin's surface and prevent it from evaporating. Its ability to retain water comes from the poly and monosaccharides contained in its flesh. These sugars help our skin to remain well-hydrated for longer.