It’s no secret that aloe vera, the original natural sunburn soother, has a variety of skin-healthy benefits: You can use it as a primer before applying foundation, a makeup remover, moisturizer, even as a scalp treatment for irritated follicles. It only makes sense that aloe vera is the ultimate DIY face mask, both potent enough to target whatever skin issue you’ve got (be it irritated, discolored, or sun-damaged skin) and gentle enough to prevent dryness. The only question that remains: Is there anything this plant can’t do?
How to make an aloe vera face mask.
First things first: Find your aloe. If you can harvest your own aloe vera, that’s stellar—you’ll have your own supply of magic gel to use at your disposal. If you don’t have an aloe plant in your home, try your best to find it fresh: “Fresh aloe vera is best, as the medicinal properties deteriorate over time. Many commercial aloe vera gels and juices contain other ingredients such as preservatives,” says California dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., a diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology.
You should also make sure to do a patch test before slathering the mix all over your face. Aloe vera can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals, says Marisa Plescia, research scientist at clean beauty e-tailer NakedPoppy, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you don’t suffer any irritation before applying a full-on face mask.
To make the mask, you’ll of course need some aloe, plus whatever additional ingredients you choose (more on that later). The steps are fairly simple from there:
- Mix aloe and other ingredients together in a bowl until you get a spreadable consistency (make sure it’s not too runny!)
- Apply the mask to your face and let sit for a few minutes. Five to 10 usually does the trick. Just don’t let it sit for longer than 20 minutes, as it can lose its moisturizing effect and potentially cause irritation when sitting on the skin for too long.
- Rinse your face thoroughly and pat dry.
- Apply an occlusive cream or oil to keep all the moisture in.
In terms of measurements, Plescia recommends a 1:1 ratio of aloe to add-ins. “You can change it depending on the overall aesthetics of the mask and how well it spreads,” she says. (You might want to add less of a thicker ingredient to keep it spreadable, for example.) The great thing about an all-natural aloe mask is that you can play around with the ratios and quantity pretty easily; if it feels tacky or sticky on your fingers, you can always add more aloe to thin it out and keep that jelly consistency.
5 DIY aloe face masks for glowing skin.
While there’s no shortage of ingredients that go great with aloe, there are a few add-ins of note to target specific skin concerns. These five recipes can target just about any skin issue you’ve got, from run-of-the-mill dryness to irritation to oxidative stress.
Aloe vera and honey mask, for skin-soothing.
“Honey offers soothing benefits, making it a perfect addition to an aloe vera face mask,” says Plescia. You may be familiar with the antibacterial effects of honey (particularly of the Manuka variety), and adding honey to your aloe mix can calm redness, reduce scarring, and moisturize the skin. Just be sure to add less honey than aloe (a 1:2 honey-to-aloe ratio might be best, Plescia suggests) or the mixture will be rather sticky.
If honey’s not your thing, another great ingredient for soothing inflammation is colloidal oatmeal, as colloidal oatmeal can “suppress pro-inflammatory chemicals, called cytokines, as well as histamine,” says board-certified dermatologist Cybele Fishman, M.D.
Aloe vera and apple cider vinegar mask, for gentle exfoliation.
Aloe is already naturally exfoliating (it contains beta-hydroxy acid and salicylic acid, which will help to gently exfoliate the skin, Plescia tells mbg). ACV is also naturally exfoliating, but it might be helpful to pair it with a soothing agent like aloe. Plescia agrees: “It’s great to pair apple cider vinegar with an anti-inflammatory such as aloe vera to help lessen potential skin irritation.”
If you don’t have ACV on hand, another great option is adding a physical exfoliator, like some sugar or coffee grounds, as these granules can gently remove debris and pair great with soothing aloe, says cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat, Ron Robinson.
Aloe and turmeric mask, for skin-brightening.
To target skin discoloration, you’ll want to have this brightening turmeric mask at the ready. Curcumin, the main ingredient of turmeric, has a slew of skin benefits, from neutralizing free radicals to reducing hyperpigmentation. Because aloe is a dark spot remedy in and of itself, adding turmeric to the mix can give this mask quite the skin-brightening boost.
Don’t have turmeric? Citrus fruits can do the trick: “Lemons or oranges with their high vitamin C content might help to even skin tone,” Robinson adds.
Aloe and coconut oil mask, for moisturizing.
For dry, flaking skin, coconut oil (or olive oil, says Plescia, if that’s all you’ve got) is your go-to add. Coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer for the skin, especially for those who suffer from eczema. When paired with aloe, it’s a hydrating powerhouse of a mask. But proceed with caution if you’re experiencing breakouts: “Coconut oil can lead to breakouts, so be careful if you’re acne-prone,” says board-certified dermatologist Jaimie Glick, M.D.
Aloe vera and yogurt mask, for even skin tone.
Got probiotics? While we’ve just only scratched the surface in terms of skin microbiome research, the science looks promising for reducing acne and evening skin tone. For more of a hydrating boost, combine aloe with this common kitchen ingredient for some skin-healthy benefits, says Robinson.
If you’re interested in trying out an aloe vera face mask, you’ll likely have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen. Just be sure to consult your dermatologist or esthetician before applying any new topicals to your skin, as some people may experience allergies from aloe. You should always, always do a patch test before trying it out on your face; if you notice any signs of irritation, stop immediately and wash it off. Other than that, you’re golden: Slather on the gel, and let it work its magic.
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