Aloe vera has been used in medicine for thousands of years as it is believed to have potential health benefits for the skin and the body. The trendy succulent may seem innocuous to try but before you go rubbing the leaves all over your face, find out what dermatologists and physicians have to say about the best ways to use aloe vera.
We spoke to Blanca Lizaola-Mayo, MD, Alicia Zalka, MD, Bita Nasseri, MD, and Kim Walls to get expert opinions on the different benefits aloe vera can provide. Keep reading to learn the eight best ways to use the ingredient.
Meet the Expert
- Blanca Lizaola-Mayo, MD, is a board-certified internal medicine physician and the co-founder of SOS Hydration electrolyte replacement drinks.
- Alicia Zalka, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Surface Deep, a next-level brand of odor-fighting products.
- Bita Nasseri, MD, is a board-certified anesthesiology specialist and the co-founder of the Euka wellness system.
- Kim Walls is an award-winning natural products innovator and the founder of Beb Organic, a line of baby and pregnancy products.
Heal a Sunburn
Because aloe vera gel gives a cooling sensation and can relieve irritation, one of its top benefits is to help soothe sunburned skin. This is due to the gel's high water content, which spreads gently on the skin, and contains high concentrations of more than 75 active chemical constituents, including polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and more that work synergistically to provide relief to damaged skin. Zalka explains, “[The gel] provides a barrier to the skin protecting it from further irritation and inflammation. It acts as a moisturizer without being too heavy or greasy, replenishing needed water to the epidermis (aids in preventing transepidermal water loss TEWL).”
Substitute for Shaving Cream
Down to the last drop of shaving cream? Not to fear, Aloe vera gel makes for a great shaving cream replacement as it helps create a friction-free skin surface. “Because shaving can result in skin nicks, deep exfoliation, and potentially skin irritation, fresh aloe vera gel is an excellent ingredient in shaving products to offset unintended damage,’ says Walls.
Lower Your Blood Sugar
Some studies have suggested that drinking Aloe vera juice can help those with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. “Aloe vera juice could have several possible benefits for people with diabetes to achieve better fasting blood glucose levels, as well as reduce body fat and weight. However, research is still very much needed to support Aloe vera’s effectiveness in regards to lowering blood sugar and glucose levels,” says Blanca.
Heal Dry Skin
Nasseri confirms that aloe vera can heal dry skin as well. Whether it be your face or feet, aloe vera consists of vitamin E and vitamin C that work together to strengthen the skin’s barrier. Slather on before bed and wake up to smooth supple skin.
Stimulate Hair Growth
One of the more unknown uses of aloe vera? Use it to stimulate hair growth! “Aloe vera is filled with proteolytic enzymes that repair dead skin cells on the scalp and also promote hair growth,” says Nasseri. It also works great as a conditioner and will leave your hair smooth and shiny.
Treat Bug Bites
As summer is approaching, mosquitos are out, and bug bites are inevitable. Nasseri explains that aloe vera can soothe and relieve bug bites thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Apply the gel directly onto the bite as a way to reduce some of the pain and itching.
Aloe vera is great for gut health and our digestive system because it contains amino acids, enzymes, and sterols. Nasseri recommends adding the aloe leaf gel into a juice or smoothie, but you’ll need to access the gel first.
"The key is to remove the skin on the flat sides of the aloe vera stem and ensure the spiky edges of the plant are completely removed on the top and alongside the aloe vera leaf. From there, you will be able to remove the clear gel of the aloe vera. Then, before consumption, wash the aloe vera gel thoroughly to remove any leftover dirt or excess skin,” advises Blanca.
Because aloe vera has such a high level of antioxidants, it inhibits inflammation, supports the formation of new skin cells, and reduces redness to support healing and pain remediation. Walls goes on to explain, “A bonus of products made with aloe vera is that it enhances vitamin C and E’s bioavailability, so you can get even more benefit out of your other skincare products by combining them.” But be careful when purchasing, most of the aloe vera in commercial products has lost its healing benefits long before it touches your skin. To ensure you get the full benefit of aloe vera gel, use products from brands that process their ingredients organically, with low or no heat, and use them when they are still fresh.