There are hundreds of varieties of aloe that grow all over the world. Most have medicinal properties. However, it is aloe barbadensis that is known as aloe vera, the species with the most value as a natural remedy. Aloe arborescens, the fast growing aloe with spiraling leaves, is more common as a houseplant and wild succulent in North America and its gel has healing properties as well but it is less powerful than aloe barbadensis.
For pictures of the different species, follow these links:
Aloe vera as an acne remedy
The gel of the aloe vera plant has a cooling, soothing effect on acne sores. It is also a natural antibiotic.
- Remove a whole aloe leaf from the plant. Take an outer leaf and remove it as near the trunk as possible.
- Cut a slit down the middle and allow the yellow latex to drain. The latex has other uses (as a purgative) but is not good for irritated skin and might cause inflammation in some people.
- Use a serrated knife to remove the thick skin. Begin by cutting off the jagged edges. This will take some practice but after a few tries you will be able to remove the skin and end up with a nice thick piece of gel.
- Use the flat side of a knife or a spoon to remove the gluey latex from the gel.
- If you are using aloe arborescens, it is not necessary to drain the leaves. You can open the leaf and apply the gel directly.
- Cut a piece of the gel and apply it directly to the skin as needed, avoiding the eyes.
- The gel will keep for about a week if stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Why It Works
Aloe vera gel is good for acne for two main reasons. First, it immediately soothes the skin and is a mild anti-inflammatory. Secondly, aloe vera is a natural antibiotic - it cleans the skin and kills bacteria.
As mentioned above, the latex of aloe barbadensis, a thin layer between the leaf and the gel, is a potential skin irritant.