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Aloe gel has long been used for its beneficial effects in the wound-healing properties. It is most
often included in topical formulations (e.g. creams, lotions or soaps). At least part of aloe gel’s beneficial
effect on the skin likely is due to its moisturizing effect. Also, it is said to leave a protective layer on
the skin after drying, possibly providing some protection to the wound.
There are many moisturizing agents used in personal care formulations. The most widely used is
probably glycerin, which exerts its moisturizing function by its ability to retain water in the skin
(humectant). Other important humectants include hyaluronic acid, urea or polysaccharides. A different class of
moisturizers is the emollients, which exert their benefits through effects on the skin barrier, partially
through improved repair, and on permeability. Examples of emollients are fatty oils like sunflower, avocado or
jojoba oil. Finally, some moisturizers increase the water content indirectly by creating an occlusive film on
the skin surface, trapping the water in the upper layers of the stratum corneum (e.g. lecithin, propylene
glycol, beeswax, mineral oil).
Aside from occasional allergic skin reactions in a small number of people, Aloe, used topically has
few if any side effects
The aloe plant Aloe barbadensis in the family Liliaceae is the most researched and used of the more
than 300 species of aloe. Aloe has been used medicinally for several thousands of years in many cultures —
from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to China and India. The plant has many common names and is often referred
to as aloe vera, burn plant, first-aid plant, or medicine plant. Its name is most likely derived from the
Arabic word Alloeh, meaning “shining bitter substance. Aloes are thought to have originated in tropical Africa
but are now cultivated in warm climate areas of Asia, Europe, and America. Aloe has been extensively
cultivated in the Caribbean islands and in Mexico since the early 1800s. In the U.S., it is grown commercially
in the Rio Grande valley of Texas, southern California, and Florida. Aloe plants can withstand high
temperatures and long periods of drought, due to their ability to store water in their succulent leaves. On
the other hand, they are very sensitive to freezing temperatures, which can damage or kill the plants.
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Visit the American Botanical Council for the latest research on our herbal ingredients. Read the expert research