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What? Pure aloe gel is NOT a complete moisturizer?

Skin feels dry after applying aloe vera gelHello people! This week, one of Plum's fans asked a very interesting question on Plum's Facebook page: "I tried applying aloe vera gel directly... but it dries my skin. Why?". Sounds strange compared to everything we know about aloe, right? Well, it turns out it's keen observation on her part - and there's a simple, scientific reason why this is happening. The reply would be useful to a lot of you, hence thought of sharing it through this post.

What our fan has experienced (dry feeling after applying pure aloe vera gel) is not as strange as it sounds. Here’s the simple science behind what’s happening:

For skin to feel moisturized, two things have to happen: 

  1. The moisture content of skin should be adequate (10-20% is the usual range)
  2. Perhaps more importantly, the skin should have the ability to retain that moisture, which is otherwise lost very quickly. That ability to retain moisture can be reduced by factors like dry weather and poor skin health, and improved by factors like having a well-nourished lipid layer, and using substances (see below) that help the skin retain moisture.

Aloe vera gel, as noted in one of our posts earlier, is 98.5% water, and the remaining is (200+) nutrients that help soothe, nourish and moisturize the skin. It cannot by itself ALSO perform the second function, which is helping the skin retain moisture. Besides, the gel also has mild astringent properties, which also possibly explains the tight feeling experienced after direct application.

A better combination, in our opinion, is aloe gel or juice along with substances that help the skin retain its moisture. Ideally we need emollients (fill the gaps between skin flakes, helping retain lipids and water – for example, coconut fatty acids), and humectants (like glycerine and sorbitol, they bind water). A good moisturizing system uses a combination of these ingredients to keep skin happy. Aloe gel, despite its native goodness, is not your perfect standalone moisturizer. It’s a great soothing and calming additive to a moisturizing system. At the risk of self-promotion, this is exactly the philosophy behind the Hello Aloe Caring Day Moisturizer – read the ingredient list and you’ll understand!

You can get a lot more information on moisturizers & humectants in our earlier blog post on humectants.

Thanks to our fan again for asking a great question, and we do hope you find our answer useful. Do let us know what you think! 

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