Dealing with acne can be painful, exhausting, and also expensive. From topical drugstore creams and medications to professional treatments from a dermatologist, the journey to clear skin may not always be easy on you or your pockets, depending on how severe your breakouts are. But Karina Bañuelos, a teen from Palmdale, California, seems to have found an all-natural solution — using an aloe plant from her own garden. So can aloe vera really treat acne? Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai in New York City, says it can.
"Recently, there has been coverage of the use of aloe as a treatment for acne," he explains to Elite Daily. "Besides its anti-inflammatory properties, aloe has anti-microbial properties which may help explain this benefit. Aloe is rich in compounds called anthraquinones, which have been shown to reduce levels of various types of bacteria on the skin."
But the expert also warns that it may not be as effective for everyone as other "tried and true" solutions, like benzoyl peroxide, for example. "If you want an all natural treatment, I am not opposed to using aloe," Dr. Zeichner says. "However, if it is not helping within two weeks, if your acne is getting worse, if you have any scars, or if you have severe acne, I urge patients to visit a board-certified dermatologist for treatment."
However, for Bañuelos at least, aloe vera appears to have worked like a charm. And she's got the before and after pictures to prove it — along with a video of her skin glistening straight out of the shower.
The teen also shared a Twitter thread under the photos, detailing her complete nightly skincare routine. First, she begins by applying Thayers Witch Hazel Aloe Vera Formula Toner ($9.29, amazon.com) on her face, using a cotton ball to pick up any dirt trapped in her pores. She then cleanses her face with a spin brush and Dr. Bronner's 18-In-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap ($15.99, amazon.com) every other day. Afterward, Bañuelos dries her face and applies the toner again, along with Neutrogena's Oil-Free Moisturizer for combination skin ($11.99, ulta.com).
Now comes the good part. Once the moisturizer has been fully absorbed, Bañuelos cuts open a fresh aloe leaf, puts the gel all over her face, and lets it sit overnight. She washes it off in the morning, and then applies a daily sunscreen. You can also watch her go through her routine below. (She starts explaining how she uses the aloe around the 4:28 mark.)
Thankfully, aloe vera is pretty gentle on the skin, so it rarely causes allergic reactions or irritation, Dr. Zeichner explains. While he can't say if it's a universal acne solution, he does recommend it for a variety of other skin issues, including eczema and sunburn, because of its extra hydrating and calming properties. But aloe isn't just great for the skin; it also has a lot of other uses that you've probably never even thought of before.
Elite Daily has reported in the past that aloe can do everything from getting rid of bad breath to being used as a substitute for shaving gel. And since it's rich in vitamins A, C, and E, it can also help promote hair growth if rubbed on the scalp regularly. I think the only downfall aloe has is that, if you get it straight from the plant, it smells awful. But if it's going to make your skin glow as much as Bañuelos', the scent just might be worth dealing with.