You're probably familiar with the soothing power of aloe vera on a nasty sunburn, but can you also use it to treat acne? The answer is complicated.
Aloe vera has several characteristics that make it a great component of a complete skincare routine, but it's not enough to treat your acne on its own. Still, its abilities to soothe the skin, promote rapid healing, and help other ingredients absorb better set it apart as a valuable ingredient in a larger routine.
Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment
In this overview, we'll talk about everything you need to know about aloe vera for acne, including how it can help, how it can't, and how you can include it in your routine.
Is Aloe Vera Good for Acne?
Aloe vera does have many properties that make it a great support tool in a pre-existing skincare regimen, including the ability to help soothe, heal, and moisturize the skin.
But acne needs more than just healing to go away completely.
Though it has been a popular remedy for a long time, current research just isn't conclusive enough to say that aloe vera can do much for acne on its own.
How Does Aloe Vera Help Acne?
So, if aloe vera can't get rid of acne on its own, what can it do to support your skin in other ways? To shed some light on this question, let's break down some common claims about how aloe vera interacts with the causes of acne and to what extent they're true.
Halting Excess Oil Production
Claim: Aloe vera for acne works because it is naturally astringent, so it can absorb excess oil and reduce clogged pores.
Reality: Aloe vera contains zinc, which is an astringent.
Zinc's astringent properties are so useful, in fact, that it is approved for use in acne products by the FDA and is commonly used to keep excess sebum at bay.
Untreated excess oil can clog pores, leading to whiteheads and blackheads, and it can encourage the rapid growth of acne-causing bacteria, which are nourished by the oil our skin produces.
Claim: Aloe vera for acne works because it has antibacterial properties that allow it to kill acne-causing bacteria.
Reality: While aloe vera does have antibacterial properties, it has not been shown to specifically be effective on acne-causing bacteria.
Although aloe vera has proven very effective in killing certain kinds of bacteria, it has proven much less effective with acne-causing bacteria, also known as P. acnes; there is no evidence that the plant can kill overabundant P. acnes growth on its own.
For that, you'll need an ingredient like benzoyl peroxide, which is proven to lower the amount of acne-causing bacteria (including P. acnes) on your skin.
That's why we've formulated our Acne Treatment Serum with 3.5% benzoyl peroxide; our formula is strong enough to take on bad bacteria without being too harsh on your healing skin.
Claim: Aloe vera for acne works because it protects the skin and reduces inflammation, which helps prevent acne from forming.
Reality: Reducing inflammation is one of the best ways to prevent acne, but the research is very conflicted on whether aloe vera decreases inflammation enough to have an effect on acne.
Many people support this claim because aloe vera works so well on sunburn, which causes inflammation, and inflammation is associated with acne.
Any time our skin is damaged, it triggers an immune response and its result, inflammation, to help protect it from further damage.
This causes minor swelling in the skin, and in acne formation, the pores constrict, trapping oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside.
Sunburn also triggers the anti-inflammatory response in the skin, so this reasoning is not completely off. This claim that aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties has also been medically reviewed, but, at best, the data are inconclusive.
Is Aloe Vera Good for Healing?
The majority of studies seem to agree that it can speed the wound-healing process along, and aloe vera is even a recommended component of wound dressings. Like a wound, acne can leave scars. Aloe vera may help prevent scars by speeding up the healing process, which prevents a buildup of melanin, the substance which gives our skin pigment and causes dark spots but also encourages wound healing.
Our Microderm Scrub is formulated with aloe to promote healthy and swift healing of irritated or inflamed pores to reveal brighter, softer, and more vibrant skin.
Aloe Vera Side Effects
Aside from some mild side effects like eczema, itching, and burning, there aren't many risks associated with the topical use of aloe vera or aloe extract. It is more likely that aloe vera simply won't give you many results than that it will harm you.
Do a patch test with any new skincare product before using it to test your reaction to it and avoid irritating your skin.
How to Use Aloe Vera for Acne
Use Aloe Vera As Part of a Skincare Regimen
Research seems to suggest that aloe vera's real superpower is to help other substances be more effective.
When it is combined with other ingredients, the aloe isn't absorbed into the skin very well, but the other ingredient is absorbed even more efficiently than it normally would be.
Using aloe vera in combination with other beneficial ingredients, like those in the recommended Exposed Skincare routine, is a great strategy.
Our Clearing Tonic, which is formulated with aloe leaf extract, is a great option to turn to; it will prep your skin for your other products without drying it out and is the perfect addition to any routine.