These days a lot of skincare products and even haircare products list aloe vera in their ingredient lists. Its usually listed as Aloe vera extract/Aloe Barbadensis leaf extract/ aloe vera gel. In case you want to know more about this magical plant everyone loves to have in their products, my post today might just be your cup of tea :).
(Image source: wikimedia Commons)
Aloe Vera is a cactus plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family.There are more than 300 species of this plant but the most common ones are Aloe barbadensis Miller and Aloe aborescens. Various cosmetic and medical products are made from the mucilaginous tissue (the gooey stuff) present in the center of the Aloe vera leaf . (If you’ve ever had the opportunity to break a fleshy leaf of aloe into 2, you know what I am talking about). So whats so special about this gel like stuff which oozes out of the leaf? It is infact a complex mix of various types of naturally occuring chemicals : Amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, minerals, mono- and polysaccharides, salicylic acid, saponins, sterols, and vitamins. These components individually and together are responsible for some of the great properties of aloe vera.
So what are the magical powers of Aloe Vera?
- Moisturizing and anti ageing effect: Some of the polysaccharides (mucopolysaccharides) found in aloe vera gel help bind moisture into the skin. Aloe Vera stimulates fibroblast cells which boosts the collagen production process and therefore has been proven to help fight wrinkles. The amino acids present in the gel also soften hardened skin cells thereby acting as a skin softener. The small amounts of zinc present in aloe gel acts as an astringent thereby tightening pores. Now you know why a lot of skin care companies love Aloe 🙂
- Protection against radiation damage: Aloe vera gel has been reported to have a protective effect against radiation damage to the skin. However to get maximum benefits it is recommended that 100% pure aloe gel be used for this purpose. The polysaccharides, mannose-6-phosphate, and complex anthraquinones together are responsible for this property of aloe vera.
- Wound healing: As stated earlier, collagen synthesis is boosted when aloe vera gel is applied on the skin. Collagen production plays an important role in would healing as well. Aloe gel not only increased collagen content of the wound but also increases the degree of collagen cross linking (which helps wound healing). Due to this, accelerated wound contraction or healing takes place.
- Anti inflammatory :Aloe gel has been identified as beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
There are lots of other important application of aloe vera especially in medicinal products but I thought I’d just stick with how awesome it is for the skin 🙂 In case you would like to read up more on Aloe Vera take a look at the references listed below!
Until next time..ciao!!
- Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (article here)
- Indian Journal of Dermatology (here)
- Pharmacognosy Reviews (here)
- Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology (here)