As people with extraordinarily elaborate skin-care routines, we pride ourselves on using products with the most effective ingredients around. Of course, this involves actually knowing what those ingredients are. And, boy, are there a lot of ingredients out there. In Know Your Ingredients, our ongoing series, we'll be decoding the many oils, acids, extracts, and more that appear in our favorite products.
Aloe vera is one ingredient we probably think we know everything about, especially around this time of the year. But, this plant's legacy is quite long and celebrated — and not just for being a sunburn savior. The ancient Egyptians actually deemed this guy "the plant of immortality" and would use the leaves' secretions to treat wounds, burns, and fevers. Aloe was also consumed to promote healthy digestion and relieve joint pain. Another interesting fact? Aloe is actually the only known remedy for radiation burns.
But, this miracle plant does more than just take your burn from blistering to bearable — it's actually key when it comes to skin care in general. "It creates a protective barrier for the skin to allow for healing, and it helps the skin replenish and retain moisture," says Madison Ruggieri, creator of Buckler's Remedies skin-care line. She says aloe contains two hormones — auxin and gibberellin. "This duo reduces skin inflammation and promotes speedy healing to acne without scarring," she says.
Acneic skin isn't the only type that can benefit from a little aloe vera love. "Sensitive, dry skin that's prone to redness would benefit from aloe," Ruggieri says. Aloe in a moisturizer is also great for oily complexions since it doesn't leave a greasy sheen to the face. "Aloe contains beta carotene and vitamins C and E, which all help fight signs of aging and promote skin elasticity," she says.
Ruggieri even says aloe should be incorporated into skin-care regimens daily because of its moisturizing benefits. "People tend to only think of aloe in terms of post-sun treatment, but skin gets dry, irritated, or broken out all the time," she says. "Aloe soothes and treats those daily irritations — from smog to sun to shaving, and everything in between."
While aloe gel directly from the plant itself is going to be the most effective, the gel itself can have a sticky, tacky feel when applied directly to the face. So, if you're not keen on that texture, try mixing a dab of gel in with your regular moisturizer. Or, better yet: Pick up a product that already has aloe incorporated into the ingredients. In particular, Ruggieri suggests looking for moisturizers, eye creams, after-shaves, shaving creams, and face masks. "Pretty much any product that you would use to fight against skin redness or irritation would benefit from aloe," she says.
Basically, this is one wonder plant you want in your regimen — stat.
Buckler's Daily Face Repair, $42, available at The Motley.