Aloe vera is widely used in many mainstream skincare and cosmetics’ products for its known rejuvenating and healing action. The plant is very skin-friendly and has a low risk of causing allergies, sensitivity, or skin reactions, and it is also versatile.
It is believed that the ancient Egyptians had used aloe vera for medicinal as well as cosmetic purposes. It is the gel in aloe vera leaves, that is used for therapeutic as well as cosmetic purposes. Most importantly, it contains multiples components that contribute to overall healthy skin: –
- Polysaccharides: Acts as moisturizers, hydrating the skin. It is proven to be absorbed into the skin, where it stimulates the fibroblasts to replicate themselves faster. And it is these cells that produce the collagen and elastin fibers, to repair the skin, which results in the skin becoming more elastic and less wrinkled.
- Vitamins: It is rich in all vitamins excluding Vitamin D, especially the antioxidant Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E, Folic Acid, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, and even contains a trace of Vitamin B12. These vitamins help contribute to its antioxidant properties, and also help with cell growth and protection.
- Enzymes: Helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically and therefore reduces pain, even help in digesting any dead tissues in wounds.
- Sugars: These sugars are derived from the mucilage layer of the plant which surrounds the inner gel known as mucopolysaccharides which enhance the immune system and help to detoxify. In topical preparations, the sugars are also the main moisturizers.
- Saponins: These soapy substances form about 3% of the aloe vera gel and are capable of cleansing, having antiseptic properties. These act powerfully as anti-microbial against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts.
- Fatty Acids: Cholesterol, Campesterol, b. Sitosterol and Lupeol. These four plant steroids are important anti-inflammatory agents.
- Salicylic acid: Helps reduce acne and other skin inflammation.
- Bradykinase and Anthraquinones: Helps reduce inflammation.
- Amino Acids: The body needs 22 amino acids, aloe vera provides 20 of these. More importantly, it provides 7 out of the 8 essential amino acids which the body can not synthesize.
Forms and Functions of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a water-soluble ingredient that can be added to the water phase during the skincare formulations. However, it exists in a few forms. And it is good to take note of various functions and use level if you decide to go for any form for your homemade formation.
Aloe Vera Juice improves the surface of the skin, making it smoother because of its cohesive effect on the superficial, flaking epidermal, cells by making them stick together. Aloe vera juice has the ability to interfere with the enzyme that produces melanin deposits in the skin, preventing the formation of ‘liver spots,’ which tend to form in aging skin. Apply aloe vera regularly, and for long enough it will often cause established spots to disappear.
- Typical use level: 15-100%
- Yellow to green liquid, faint herbal odor
- Discolouration will not affect the efficacy
Aloe Vera Gel is the perfect base for a DIY recipe or skincare formulation as an addition to emulsions, help to thicken and stabilize while offering its skin-loving benefits to your products. This is the perfect way to feed oils (you need to emulsify oil and water to make emulsion) to your thirsty skin without any of the greasiness of oils. When aloe vera gel is added to skincare formulation, it makes an excellent moisturizer. It is best for people with sensitive skin, who are looking for natural skincare solutions. It helps to moisturize and soothe any number of skin issues, from after sun treatments to dry skin. Aloe vera gel is commonly used as a hair conditioner. Aloe vera gel is also believed to rectify split ends.
- Typical use level: 1-10%
- Light Amber to Brown Hazy Liquid
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Aloe Vera Powder is usually high concentration (200x), so it can be added directly to formulations at very low dose. The addition of 1 gram of aloe vera powder to skincare formulation gives the same concentration of pure aloe vera juice squeezed from a fresh aloe vera plant. It can be solubilized in water or hydrosols to create a solution. In other words, it does not form a gel. A thickener agent needs to be added to form gel-like appearance when using aloe vera powder in cosmetics formulation.
- Typical use level: 1-3%
- White to light beige fine crystalline powder, faint herbal odour
- Dissolve in water (1g aloe vera: 99g distilled water, add appropriate preservative for long term storage) to make a stock solution that is adequate for adding to formulas.
Aloe Vera Oil-Infused is usually the product of macerating aloe vera powder in oil, or aloe vera juice is macerated in oil vegetable such as organic sunflower/coconut/olive oil to create an extract containing the lipophilic components of aloe vera. These lipophilic components have properties different from those of aloe vera gel/powder. Aloe vera that is mostly composed of water and has a low amount of those lipophilic components. Aloe vera oil is highly valued for its nutritional properties, revitalizing and smoothing, making it an ideal ingredient for dry and damaged skin. If you are interested in making your own aloe vera oil, check out this blog post.
- Typical use level: 0.5-10%
- Because of the type of oil infuse into, there is the typical (strong) scent that is associated with cold-pressed or organic oil
Aloe vera can moisturize the skin by bringing oxygen to the surface and increasing the synthesis as well as the strength of the skin tissue. Aloe vera improves the skin’s ability to hydrate itself, aids in the removal of dead skin cells and has an effective penetrating ability which all contribute to creating an overall healthy aesthetic.
Even though aloe vera is a safe ingredient, however, its application dosage will depend on which form of aloe vera in skincare you are using. Always follow your suppliers’ recommendations. As aloe vera is a natural and rich material, it offers a suitable environment for microbial growth, so it is essential to use the appropriate preservative system to avoid contamination.