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Aloe vera is a succulent that’s been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for sunburns and other minor burns. The clear gel inside its long, thick leaves contains a jelly-like substance that’s rich in enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Besides helping to cool and soothe inflamed skin, the moisturizing properties of aloe vera have also made it a popular ingredient in beauty and skin care products. Nowadays you can find it in everything from facial masks and cleansers to body scrubs and lotions.

Are there particular benefits to using aloe vera around your eyes, and is it safe to do so? The short answer is yes. This article will take a closer look at what those benefits are and how to use aloe vera safely.

Aloe vera is often used around the eyes to:

  • help heal or repair damaged skin
  • relieve swelling or puffiness
  • moisturize dry or flaky skin
  • treat sunburned skin
  • relieve redness or irritation

But does aloe vera actually work for what it’s used for? Let’s take a closer look.

Skin repair benefits

Research into the properties and actions of aloe vera has confirmed that this plant contains a wide variety of nutrients.

The minerals found in aloe vera include zinc, magnesium, potassium, and selenium. Zinc and selenium in particular provide antioxidant benefits.

Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to repair cells that have been damaged. In addition to these minerals, aloe vera also contains vitamins A, C, and E, which have an antioxidant effect.

Other vitamins found in aloe vera include folic acid, vitamin B-12, and choline. These vitamins may help strengthen the skin and repair damage.

Inflammation benefits

The fatty acids and enzymes in aloe vera may have the ability to reduce inflammation when applied topically to the skin.

The amino acids in aloe vera, including salicylic acid, have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that may help heal and reduce acne and minor skin wounds. These properties may also reduce the pain and redness of sunburn.

Moisturizing benefits

The water and enzymes contained in aloe vera can help moisturize your skin and reduce flakiness and itchiness. Aloe vera may help prevent dry skin in cold weather.

Aloe vera may also act as a gentle cleanser to help clear up oily skin.

Antifungal benefits

Research suggests that aloe vera has some antifungal properties that may be helpful for clearing up certain skin conditions.

If you have dry, itchy skin on your face or around your eyes, aloe vera may help soothe your skin.

A 2012 study that tested filtered aloe vera extract on human corneal cells found evidence that aloe vera may contain properties that can help reduce eye inflammation and dryness.

The study also noted that aloe vera, at low concentrations, did not appear to have a negative effect on eye cells. Previous studies that involved research on animals support this finding.

It’s important to avoid putting aloe vera gel directly into your eyes. Doing so can cause burning, irritation, redness, and other side effects.

More research needs to be done on aloe vera eyedrops before they can be considered safe to use. For now, it’s recommended to only use aloe vera on skin and not directly in the eye.

It’s safe to use aloe vera gel on the outside of your eyelids to relieve redness or swelling. Just be careful not to get any of the gel in your eyes and don’t apply it too close to the edge of your eyelid. Avoid rubbing your eyes if you apply aloe vera to your eyelids and only use a small amount.

If you’re using a fresh aloe vera leaf, trim away the outside of the leaf by cutting away the sides and peeling back the top layer. Let the yellow sap inside the leaf drip out, then scrape out the clear gel.

You may find it easier to cut the leaf into sections before trimming away the outside layer. There isn’t one right way to do this, so find a safe method that works well for you.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the use of aloe vera. This means medical professionals haven’t yet developed standard instructions for using aloe vera. As a result, instructions on how to use the plant can vary.

To treat sunburn, inflammation, redness, or dryness around your eyes:

  • Gently wash your face with water and a mild cleanser.
  • Pat your skin dry, then lightly dab a small amount of aloe vera gel onto the affected skin in a thin layer.
  • Avoid rubbing the aloe vera into your skin (like lotion), and avoid getting the gel too close to your eyes.
  • Wash the gel off after 10 to 15 minutes.
  • You can use aloe vera up to 3 times a day to treat sunburned, inflamed, or dry skin.
  • Aloe vera can dry out your skin if you use it too frequently, so if you notice dryness, use it less often.

To use as a moisturizer:

  • Wash your face with water and a mild cleanser.
  • Once your skin is dry, apply aloe vera to the skin around your eyes in a thin layer. You can focus on areas where you notice dryness or wrinkles, but you can also use aloe vera on your entire face.
  • If used as a moisturizer, you can leave the aloe vera gel to absorb into your skin.
  • If you aren’t sure how your skin will react to aloe vera, start out using it slowly. Replace your usual moisturizer once a week with aloe vera, then increase your use if aloe vera works well for you.

If you live in a dry, warm climate, you may have an aloe vera plant growing in your yard, or you may know someone who has one. Some natural food stores also sell aloe vera leaves.

The best way to ensure the gel is fresh and pure and not mixed with other ingredients is to extract it from the leaves yourself. However, if you can’t find fresh aloe vera leaves, or you don’t have time to harvest the gel from the plant, you can purchase aloe vera gel online or at your local drugstore.

If you buy ready-made aloe vera gel, make sure you pay attention to the ingredients used in the product.

Look for products that:

  • list aloe vera as the main ingredient
  • contain as few added ingredients as possible.
  • don’t contain thickeners, medications, and other chemicals

While aloe vera is generally safe to use on your skin, make sure you avoid getting it in your eyes.

Although aloe vera can help moisturize your skin, it may dry out your skin if it’s overused. This is because the enzymes in the plant act like an exfoliator. Any time you over exfoliate your skin, it can cause your skin to dry out or become too oily, depending on your skin type.

If you’ve never used aloe vera on your skin before, you’ll want to do a patch test before using it on your face. This is particularly important if you’re allergic to garlic or onions.

To do a patch test, simply apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to the inside of your wrist or elbow. If you have any sensitivity to the gel, you’ll notice itching, swelling, redness, or burning within a few hours. If you don’t have any reaction, it’s likely safe to use.

If you use steroid creams, including hydrocortisone, in the same area that you’re applying aloe vera, your skin may absorb more of the steroid cream. If you’re using a steroid cream and want to apply aloe vera on the same area of skin, ask your healthcare provider if it’s safe.

While there may be limited research to support the use of aloe vera for all the ways it is used, there is data to suggest that, for most people, aloe vera is safe to use topically, even on the face and around the eyes.

With its rich combination of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids, aloe vera has been shown to be an effective natural remedy for healing, repairing, and moisturizing damaged, dry, and sunburned skin.

If you’re unsure about the safety of using aloe vera around your eyes, talk to your healthcare provider before using it.