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How to Apply Aloe Vera on Your Face
Woman applying skincare on face in front of bathroom mirror
You have probably heard of aloe vera before… Known to the Ancient Egyptians as the Plant of Immortality, aloe vera has been used all over the world for thousands of years. What has it been used for? Everything from wound healing to treating diabetes, with this plant offering up such a wide range of different benefits.

What Exactly Is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant, and while it may look slightly similar to cacti, it is not actually from the same plant family. The leaves of the aloe vera plant are long and triangular in shape, and consist of three layers. It is the innermost layer that is key when it comes to skincare, as this is where you will find the plant’s gel. What makes aloe vera gel so special? Well, to begin with, it consists of 99% water, making it incredibly hydrating. It also boasts around 75 active ingredients, making it such a versatile plant.

The Benefits of Using Aloe Vera on Your Face

Before learning how to apply aloe vera on your face, it is always a good idea to know what sort of results to expect… Well, aloe vera will bring the skin on your face a number of benefits, including:
  • Moisturizing – since 99% of aloe vera gel consists of water, aloe vera makes a fantastic moisturizer. Not only does it form a layer over the surface of the skin, locking moisture beneath, but it also helps your outermost skin cells stick together, giving your skin a much smoother and softer appearance overall
  • Soothes the skin – aloe vera contains several anti-inflammatory compounds, such as acemannan. These can calm redness and soothe the skin
  • Treats acne – there are a couple of key hormones in aloe vera (Gibberellins and Auxin) that enable it to treat acne. These boast powerful anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, therefore reducing breakouts and speeding up the rate at which the skin heals from breakouts. Aloe vera also contains salicylic acid, making it great for clearing excess oil and dead skin cells out of the pores
  • Anti-aging – there are so many vitamins and antioxidants in aloe vera that make it a fantastic anti-aging ingredient
  • Fades and prevents dark spots – thanks to the enzyme tyrosinase within aloe vera, this botanical is able to inhibit discoloration, while its antioxidants help to fade any existing dark spots
Infographic on the benefits of aloe vera As you can see, no matter what your skin type may be or the skin issues you are dealing with, aloe vera is an ingredient that is likely to be able to improve the health of your skin.

How to Apply Fresh Aloe Vera on Your Face

Aloe vera makes a great houseplant, and having one in your home also means that you have a fresh form of this amazing skin care ingredient at your fingertips whenever you need it. Alternatively, you can also purchase aloe vera leaves. This enables you to extract the gel yourself, meaning that it is still very fresh when you use it on your skin. How do you actually use fresh aloe vera?  If you are starting with a plant, then you will first need to cut off a leaf. A sharp knife is all you need to do this, cutting it at its base. Give the leaf a wash with some cold water, just to ensure that there isn’t any dirt sticking to the leaf. Then, use your knife to cut and remove the base of the leaf, along with any spines that may be around. Your next step depends on the properties of aloe vera that you are looking for… If you want to use aloe vera as a moisturizer… Slicing aloe vera stem with knife Cut the leaf vertically in half and then scoop out the gel within. You can then apply this directly onto your skin. You probably won’t need it all, so store any leftovers in an air-tight container, keeping this away from direct sunlight.

How to Apply Store-Bought Aloe Vera Gel on Your Face

If you can’t get your hands on any fresh aloe vera, an aloe vera gel is a good alternative. There are plenty of these around, but one thing to keep in mind is… Not all aloe vera gels are equal.  In fact, some can be extremely inferior in quality, making it important to know how to choose a high quality gel, especially if you plan on using this on the delicate skin on your face. How do you know if an aloe vera gel is high quality?  Here are a few tips:
  • A higher percentage – you will never find an aloe vera gel that contains 100% aloe vera, because a certain amount of preservatives are necessary in order to prevent the gel from going off. Still, look for something that has as high a percentage of aloe vera as possible, as you want your gel to be as pure as can be
  • Look for alcohol-free, fragrance-free and color-free – all of these additives can be so irritating to your skin, and you definitely don’t want all of these anywhere near your face
  • Don’t be put off by a shorter shelf life – if you see a brand of aloe vera gel that has a shorter shelf life than its competitors, don’t let this put you off. As mentioned above, all of the gels will need to contain a preservative, but the fact that a product has a shorter shelf life may mean that it has been formulated with fewer preservatives and chemicals
Now that you’ve got a high quality gel, here’s how to apply it onto your face… Begin by cleansing. This is the first step you should take before applying anything to your skin. Why? Because you want the ingredients you are applying to be able to penetrate into your skin, without being blocked by sebum, dead skin cells, dirt, or any other impurities. A cleanser will wash all of this away, enabling the subsequent ingredients you apply to delve even deeper into your skin. Of course, you can use the gel itself to cleanse and exfoliate… Apply a small amount of gel to your face, spreading it out evenly. Then, gently scrub your face with an exfoliating pad. Once you are done, rinse your face and then continue on with the next step. Ready to apply the gel to your face?  Place a small amount of the gel onto your finger tips, and massage this into a small part of your skin, using circular motions. Repeat this until you have applied the gel over your entire face. One thing to keep in mind… If you have never used that specific aloe vera gel on your skin before, a patch test is a must.  As mentioned above, aloe vera gel will always contain some sort of preservative, and this could end up irritating your skin. Simply dab a small amount of the gel onto the inside of your wrist, and then wait for 24 to 48 hours. This is how long it takes for the skin to react. If, after this time, your skin seems to be fine, then go ahead and use the gel on your face. If the skin on your face is particularly sensitive, you may want to perform another patch test on a small part of your face before applying the gel all over.

How to Choose an Aloe Vera Face Cream or Serum

Using a pure aloe vera gel isn’t for everybody. Sometimes, it’s so much easier to opt for a skin care product that has already been formulated with aloe vera. Not only does this give you the benefits of the aloe vera, but it also enables your skin to take in a number of other ingredients too. Of course, if you want the aloe vera to have a significant effect, then you need to make sure that you choose a quality product that contains enough of the aloe vera. Aloe vera plant How do you know how much aloe vera a product contains?  By taking a look at its ingredients list. Aloe vera will either be listed as such, or it will be displayed as Aloe Barbadensis. Technically, this is a different variety from aloe vera, but both offer very similar benefits. To make things slightly complicated, there are a few different types of aloe vera extract that are used in skin care. The two that you should be aware of are:
  • Aloe Vera Gel Extract – this extract comes from just the gel itself, without any other part of the plant included
  • Aloe Vera Leaf Extract – this is an extract of the entire leaf, meaning that it also contains some latex content, which could offer additional skin benefits
Once you have found aloe vera on an ingredients list, take a look to see how high up in the list it actually appears. Ideally, you want the aloe vera to be somewhere near the top, preferably within the first five ingredients. This means that it has been used in a large enough quantity to make a difference to your skin. Any less than this and its effects will be minimal. Wondering if a serum or a cream is better?  This all depends on the effects that you want the aloe vera to have… If you are using the aloe vera to treat skin concerns on the surface of your skin, then a cream would be better. On the other hand, if you are looking to treat issues deeper within your skin, then go for a serum. Whichever one you go for, make sure that it is a skin care product that you can use on a daily basis. Consistent and regular use of aloe vera is what will make the ingredient have a noticeable effect.

Are There Any Side Effects to Using Aloe Vera on the Face?

Aloe vera is a medicinal plant, and it is very rare for someone to experience any side effects after using the ingredient. If your skin has reacted to a product containing aloe vera, then there is more chance that this is down to one of the other ingredients in the product, rather than the aloe vera itself. However, while it may be rare, an allergic reaction to aloe vera can sometimes happen. Symptoms would include:
  • A rash
  • Redness
  • Swelling
These should die down pretty quickly once you stop using the ingredient. However, if your symptoms persist, then it may be wise to speak to your doctor about it. Aloe vera is a safe but powerful ingredient, and is one that is suitable for all skin types, making it no surprise that aloe vera is now appearing in more and more skin care products. If you have never used aloe vera on your face before, give this ingredient a try – it won’t be long before you notice the improvements in your skin!

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