Aloe vera has been used in households for centuries. Whether it’s to soothe a sunburn or hydrate dry hair, the plant (specifically the clear gel found inside) has a long list of beneficial components. Studies show that the gel has various vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that can be used to tackle different skincare concerns. It’s why it’s the go-to remedy for many. We reached out to medical aesthetician, Cassandra Bankson, who shares the benefits of using aloe vera on your face. We’ve also included 8 DIY aloe vera face masks to try at home.
8 DIY Aloe Vera Face Masks for Every Skin Concern
Be Honest, Is It Good To Put Aloe Vera On Your Face?
Yes, yes and yes. But, as mentioned above, we’re talking about the gel inside the plant (aka the juice). It’s important to note here that an aloe leaf has three main layers: the skin, the gel and the latex. The skin and the gel are self-explanatory, but the latex is a thin layer of yellowish liquid between the other two layers.
“Aloe vera contains a form of latex that some people can be allergic to,” Bankston adds. “I would advise only using aloe vera gel with the latex removed. This is how it is usually formulated into products specifically meant to soothe and deliver benefits to the skin without causing irritation,” she explains.
Once you scoop out the insides (or buy pure aloe vera gel), there are a few advantages to adding aloe vera to your skincare routine.
- It stimulates collagen production. Aloe vera encourages new cell growth and promotes elasticity. It can reduce the appearance of fine lines, acne scars and dark spots. (Depending on how long you’ve had your scars, it won’t completely remove them but it can lighten their appearance.)
- It reduces inflammation and irritation. Aloe vera is best known for its ability to soothe pain and minimize redness. (Think: sunburns, rashes or infections.) Its anti-inflammatory properties (like aloin and metallothionein) provide a protective barrier for your skin, while also speeding up the healing process of the inflamed area.
- It fights against acne and breakouts. The gel prevents bacteria from building up, which means you can say goodbye to pesky breakouts.
- It hydrates the skin. “Aloe vera is very hydrating and soothing. It’s filled with antioxidants and glycoproteins that can help the skin retain moisture, boost hydration levels and provide suppleness,” Bankson says. Fun fact: Aloe vera is made up of 99 percent water. So, in addition to its hydrating elements, it has a lightweight texture doesn’t feel greasy or heavy, so even those with oily skin can use it.
What skin concerns does aloe vera target?
The ingredient can help troubleshoot dryness, irritation, hyperpigmentation and/or inflammation. Which is why there is an aloe vera face mask that suits any and all skin types or concerns.
How do you use aloe vera as a face mask?
The first step is finding the purest version of aloe vera possible. Your best bet is to invest in a nice aloe plant (or buying loose leaves at the supermarket). Once you purchase one, you’ll want to open one of the leaves lengthwise and scrape the gel using a spoon. (Bankson recommends avoiding the green parts of the plant to ensure you don’t get an allergic reaction from the latex.) FYI: Whatever gel you don’t end up using at the moment can be placed in a container and stored in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
If plant parent life isn’t in your future just yet, you can always search for aloe vera gel that is 100 percent natural. (Tip: Make sure it’s the first ingredient listed on the label).
Shop the expert’s recommendations: COSRX Aloe Soothing Sunscreen SPF 50 ($14); Juice Beauty Ylang Ylang Spa Wash ($18); Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant ($30); Elemis Superfood Calm Hydration Juice ($48)
Plant or pre-packaged gel, the great thing about aloe vera is that you can use it alone or with other ingredients found in your kitchen for even more benefits. So, let’s get started.
What are the best DIY aloe vera face mask recipes?
Now that we’re caught up with everything you need to know about aloe vera, let’s find a DIY recipe for your skincare woes. You’ll need aloe vera (of course), a bowl (to mix your ingredients) and a container for any leftovers.
When concocting your mask, it’s important to keep the texture in mind. It should be spreadable and smooth when you apply it to your face. Avoid making it too runny and shoot for a thicker, jelly-like consistency instead. Don’t worry if it takes a couple tries to get it right; practice makes perfect and half the fun is in the experimenting.
1. Aloe Vera And Honey
On their own, these ingredients are great. But together? It’s a dynamic duo worth trying. See, honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties. It also has similar benefits to aloe (i.e., treating acne and soothing dry, irritated skin). Overall, this face mask is an all-rounder, great for most skincare concerns.
When combining these ingredients, you want to remember the 1:2 ratio (for every one part honey, add two parts aloe vera gel). We all know the sweet substance can be thick, so doubling the aloe vera evens out the texture. For even more benefits, you can add ¼ tablespoon of cinnamon (which stimulates blood flow) or mashed up cucumber (which hydrates and brightens dull skin).
2. Aloe Vera And Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (aka our favorite natural exfoliant) removes dead skin cells to reveal a brighter complexion. The BHA and AHAs found in the ingredient are clarifying and help with pigmentation, which is why it's often added into cleansers, toners and masks.
ACV can be too harsh for some skin types (especially sensitive skin), but adding aloe vera (a soothing ingredient) can lessen irritation and redness. Mix one tablespoon of aloe vera gel with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Since ACV is acidic, you can let the mask settle for about five minutes before using it or you can reduce the ACV intake altogether.
3. Aloe Vera And Sugar
Sugar scrubs are a DIY favorite, so it's no surprise this face mask combo is a popular pick. Sugar is a great natural exfoliator (thanks to its grainy texture and the AHA found in it). It improves the appearance of dull, tired skin by removing dead skin cells and delivering a boost of hydration to dry, flaky skin.
You can use either white or brown sugar (the latter is a great choice for sensitive skin) for your mask. Just skip the raw sugar, as it can be too coarse for the face. To increase your natural glow, add coffee to the mixture. Start with two tablespoons of aloe vera, one teaspoon of coffee and one tablespoon of sugar.
4. Aloe Vera And Turmeric
Speaking of brightening the skin, turmeric is the king of reducing hyperpigmentation. Whether it's due to sun exposure or past acne scars, using a combo of aloe vera and turmeric can help with discoloration and dark spots. For aloe vera, the aloesin compound is what brightens things up and makes skin more radiant. For turmeric, it’s a little component called curcumin, that reduces hyperpigmentation and inflammation.
To reap the benefits of both ingredients, add one tablespoon of aloe vera to your mixing bowl before dropping in a teaspoon of turmeric. The golden plant root is known to stain or leave a yellow residue. If you find that it stains your skin a little, simply reduce the time you keep the face mask on. (And don’t panic. A good rinse will wash away any leftover stains.) For an added glow, you can add one tablespoon of honey to the mix.
5. Aloe Vera And Coconut Oil
Come on, it wouldn't be a DIY list without coconut oil. The popular ingredient has been the skincare community’s MVP for years. Why? Similar to aloe vera, the natural emollients in coconut oil combat dryness and boost hydration. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a DIY moisturizer, look no further than this hydrating duo.
To create this mask, mix a tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a tablespoon of coconut oil. (Don’t have coconut oil? Substitute olive oil instead.) Before you reach for your jar of CO, a quick word of caution: some skin types (particularly those with acne-prone or sensitive skin) may want to sit this one out. The ingredient can clog pores and cause more breakouts for these individuals.
6. Aloe Vera And Lemon Juice
If breakouts and clogged pores are your main skincare woe, this mixture might be the answer. Lemon juice has been lauded as an effective cleanser for treating acne and preventing breakouts. The citric acid (another AHA) found in lemon juice is known to kill bacteria, clear pores and reduce irritation. It also has high amounts of vitamin C, which can be helpful in reducing the appearance of acne scars or dark spots.
Start with two tablespoons of aloe vera and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Similar to apple cider vinegar, you want to spend less time wearing this face mask (and consider cutting down to a teaspoon of lemon juice to start). Because of its acidic nature, people with sensitive skin should skip this one.
7. Aloe Vera And Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the essential oil for fighting acne. Its antimicrobial properties clear pores and prevent excess dirt, oil or bacteria from building up on the surface of your skin. It can feel drying on its own, but adding a hydrating element (like aloe vera) can make this a duo a great DIY treatment for pesky breakouts.
For this, you want to start with two tablespoons of aloe vera before adding 5 to 7 drops of tea tree oil. Mix it together until it becomes a smooth, even paste. Apply the mixture on your face and leave it for 10 minutes before rinsing.
8. Aloe Vera And Rose Water
While coconut oil and tea tree oil may be household names, rose water is just as beneficial. It’s a triple threat in soothing, restoring and hydrating the skin thanks to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Adding aloe turbocharges these benefits.
First, make your own rose water (here are three ways to get you started). Then, combine one teaspoon of rose water with two tablespoons of aloe vera. If you want more hydration, consider adding some cucumber (by blending or mashing it with a fork first).
How long should aloe vera stay on your face?
“For any store-bought masks, you should always follow the directions on the box. Most masks say to leave it on for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes,” Bankson explains. “If you’re making your own DIY mask, and have done a patch test to ensure that you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients, you could leave the mask on for about 10 minutes.” Any longer and you can start to lose moisture, and it might cause irritation. After the 10 minutes are up, rinse it clean with warm water.
Got it. How often can you apply aloe vera on your face?
According to Bankson, “As often or as seldom as you would like!” She recommends using it daily as a moisturizer or a cleanser. For a face mask, save it as a little pick-me-up once or twice a month.
Are there risks to using aloe vera on your face?
“Yes—mainly allergic reactions. These can be life-threatening if they progress to anaphylaxis. Aloe vera can also vary depending on the farm conditions, location, and climate where it is grown,” she cautions. When purchasing a plant or product, ask about where it’s from and whether or not they’ve done any safety and stability testing to remove any ingredients that could be irritating.
And we always, always (!) recommend doing a patch test on the inside of your arm first. If no irritation or redness occurs, move forward with applying the mask on your face.
So, aloe or not to aloe?