Can You Use Aloe Vera Gel For Acne?

Aloe vera is one of the most useful natural skin care treatments.

It’s famed for its moisturizing and healing properties, and it can be found in a plethora of beauty products.

It’s used to reduce inflammation, soothe sunburn, treat burns, and hydrate the skin.

But, can you use aloe vera for acne?

In this article we’ll take a look at how Aloe vera affects your skin, and the impact this has on your acne. Then I’ll show you how you can add it to your skin care regimen.

What Is Aloe Vera?

aloe vera gel for acne

Aloe vera’s full botanical name is Aloe barbedensis miller. It’s a succulent plant that mostly grows in the arid regions of Asia, Africa, America, and Europe.

There are around 400 different species of the Aloe plant, but it’s Aloe vera that has the most benefits for you to use.

It’s been used for a range of medicinal uses, including skin treatments, since ancient times.

The Egyptians called Aloe the ‘plant of immortality’, and the famous Egyptian queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti are known to have used it regularly in their beauty regimes.

2000 years ago Greek scientists considered it to be the universal panacea, and Alexandra the Great used it to heal the wounds of his soldiers after battle (1).

There are two main parts of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes.

  • The leaves of the plant contain a colorless, viscous gel, that when extracted from the plant can be applied to the skin.
  • Aloe vera juice is obtained from tubules that are located just under the leaves' outer skin, and is used as a nutritional drink.

It’s the Aloe vera gel that people use when treating skin conditions. It contains 75 different compounds that are potentially active, including the polysaccharide glucomannan that aids skin repair and growth, and glycoproteins that reduce inflammation and prevent pain.

Given these known properties, it’s understandable that many claims are made about Aloe’s ability to cure a variety of ailments.

But, scientific evidence to support many of these claims are lacking, and studies have provided conflicting results about its wound healing properties.

But what we’re really concerned about is its ability to treat acne, so the big question is….

 

Can Aloe Vera Help Acne Prone Skin?

Aloe Vera leaves on wooden background

The truth is, sufficient scientific testing hasn’t been carried out to confirm the effectiveness of Aloe vera on its own as a treatment for acne.

But it does contain a number of beneficial properties that could be of use in fighting acne:

Antibacterial And Antiseptic

There are 6 different antiseptic agents in Aloe vera: Phenols, sulfur, urea nitrogen, salicylic acid, cinnamonic acid, and lueol. These can kill bacteria that is present on the skin.

Studies have shown the effectiveness of sulfur and salicylic acid in killing the acne causing bacteria P. acnes, and reducing acne lesions (2).

Anti-inflammatory

It contains a number of compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect when applied topically, including bradykinase, and C-glucosyl chromone.

These reduce swelling and inflammation of the skin, which could help to clear up acne breakouts.

Antioxidants

Aloe vera contains the vitamins A, C, and E. These are powerful antioxidants which play a part in protecting the skin from free radical damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun.

Oxidized sebum from UV exposure is considered to be a comedogenic factor that contributes to the blocking of pores and the formation of acne.

Antioxidant levels are low in the skin of people who suffer from acne, so providing your skin with added antioxidant protection could have beneficial effects in preventing the formation of acne (3).

Vitamin C has been proved effective in studies as a means of preventing and treating acne (4).

Astringent

Aloe vera acts as an astringent on the skin, tightening pores. This is a result of its zinc content, which has also been shown in studies to reduce acne when applied topically (5).

Is There Any Evidence?

It’s worth knowing that there have been studies involving Aloe vera that have specifically looked at treating acne and returned positive results.

In one study 60 volunteers with mild to moderate acne were divided into two groups. One group was given the retinoid cream Retin-A on its own. The other group was given topical Aloe vera in addition to the Retin-A. The Retin-A and Aloe vera combination was significantly more effective at reducing acne than the Retin-A on its own (6).

In another study Aloe vera was added to basil oil with similar results. The combination of the two showed a greater reduction in acne lesions than the basil oil on its own. In fact, it was concluded that it was a more effective acne treatment than 1% Clindamycin, an antibiotic cream commonly prescribed for acne and other bacterial infections (7).

Even if these studies don’t tell us how effective Aloe vera is in isolation, they do show that it has a place in an effective acne skin care regimen.

 

How To Use Aloe Vera Gel For Acne

The positive results that have been obtained from scientific studies indicate that Aloe vera is best used in combination with other natural ingredients that have a proven ability to reduce acne.

Aloe vera can be found in commercial moisturizer creams and lotions for easy use.

If you like to do it yourself, here are some face mask recipes that you can try.

Aloe Vera And Turmeric Face Mask

Turmeric

Turmeric has a long history of use in traditional medicine for its ability to treat skin disorders. It has potent antibacterial properties which have proven effective against the acne causing bacteria (8).

It’s also an anti-inflammatory (9).

Directions For Use:

1. Get some Aloe vera gel and some turmeric powder.

2. Measure 2 teaspoons of Aloe vera gel into a small bowl.

3. Take 1 pinch of turmeric and add it to the Aloe vera.

4. Mix together using a spoon or fork.

5. Wash and dry your face.

6. Use your fingers to spread the paste over your face.

7. Leave the face mask on your skin for approximately 20 minutes.

8. Wash the mixture off using warm water and dry your face.

9. You can use this face mask every day.

 

Aloe Vera And Basil Oil Lotion

basil-oil

Aloe vera and basil oil as a combination has been proven in scientific studies to have an enhanced acne fighting effect (7). 

Basil essential oil has antibacterial properties that can kill P. acnes (10).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of basil essential oil and some Aloe vera gel.

2. Put 2 teaspoons of Aloe vera gel in a small bowl.

3. Add 2 drops of basil essential oil and mix together.

4. Wash and dry your face.

5. Use your fingers or a brush to gently spread the mixture over your face.

6. For best results repeat in the morning and evening.

 

Aloe Vera And Honey Face Mask

honey

Honey has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal and beauty benefits.

It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which studies have shown act successfully against the acne bacteria (11).

Directions For Use:

1. Get some Aloe vera gel and some raw organic honey.

2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of Aloe vera with 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl.

3. Wash and dry your face.

4. Apply the face mask to your skin using your fingertips or a brush.

5. After 20 minutes wash the mixture off your face with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel.

6. You can use this face mask every day if you wish.

 

Aloe Vera Gel And Neem Face Mask

Medicinal neem leaves with ground paste over white background

Neem has a history of use in ayurvedic medicine where it is often used in the treatment of skin conditions like acne.

Science has now proven that its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties have a beneficial effect when used against this infection (12, 13).

Directions For Use:

1. Get some neem powder and some Aloe vera gel.

2. Take 5 teaspoons of neem powder and add a small amount of water. Mix it into a paste.

3. Mix an equal amount of the Aloe vera gel and neem paste in a small bowl.

4. Wash and dry your face.

5. Apply the mixture to your face using your fingers.

6. Leave the face mask on your face for about 20 minutes.

7. Wash your face with warm water and pat dry.

8. Use this method every day for the best results.

 

Aloe Vera And Lemon Juice Face Mask

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a home remedy for acne that can kill the acne causing bacteria (14), but is harsh on the skin because of its acidity.

Combine it with Aloe vera gel for a gentler alternative. Try to avoid direct sunlight and always wear a sunscreen when going outside in the days after using lemon juice on your skin.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a lemon and some Aloe vera gel.

2. Cut the lemon in half.

3. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small bowl

4. Add 1 tablespoon of Aloe vera gel and mix together well.

5. Wash and dry your face.

6. Use your fingertips to apply the mixture to your face.

7. Leave the mask on your face for approximately 15 minutes.

8. Wash your face with warm water dry with a clean towel.

9. Repeat 3 times per week.

10. Keep any leftover mixture in a sealed container in the fridge for future use.

11. Always use sunscreen when going outside after using lemon juice on your face.

 

Aloe Vera And Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil

Scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of tea tree oil for acne (15). It has proven antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (16).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of 100% tea tree oil and a jar of Aloe vera gel.

2. Measure 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil into a small bowl.

3. Add 10 teaspoons of Aloe vera gel and mix together.

4. Wash and dry your face.

5. Use your fingertips to gently apply the mixture to your skin.

6. Use every day.

7. Keep the excess in the fridge in a sealed container.

 

Side Effects And Precautions

  • Most people have no problems when using Aloe vera, but there are reports of some people having a negative reaction to it. It can cause redness, irritation, and sun sensitivity.
  • If you find yourself having any problems then it's best to stop using it.

 

Final Thoughts

There isn’t the hard scientific evidence to confirm that Aloe vera used on its own can clear up acne breakouts, but the experiments involving it show that it clearly has beneficial effects.

Anecdotal evidence from people who swear by it as a treatment method also indicate that it works for some people.

This isn’t surprising, because it contains a range of active compounds, some of which have been proved effective at reducing acne.

It’s particularly useful when used together with other natural acne treatments, as evidence suggests that the results can be significantly amplified.

It’s non comedogenic, so provides a good base for home remedies as it won’t clog your pores and can dilute essential oils and other treatments like lemon juice that can be very drying on the skin when applied on their own in concentrated form.

Have you tried using Aloe vera for acne? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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