This might sound silly, but being allergic to aloe vera in 2016 is kind of a big deal. Not only is the beauty industry, but the whole skin-applied-products field is crazy about this little green plant. From your regular moisturizer to your washing-up liquid, the toothed leaf symbol is everywhere. Because, yes, aloe vera is a real magic trick for all types of skin and it boasts more secret properties than Snape’s potions. I know that being allergic to this blessing sent from God is extremely rare – so you might be wondering why I’m writing about such a meaningless aspect of life. But it’s a huge part of my beauty life and I feel like helping the two or three ladies out there who have the same problem and might come across this article someday!
But first, a little botanic.
Aloe vera has uncertain origins (magic, I told you) and its history goes well back to Antic times. We know some famous plantations around the Mediterranean area and in California (where Korean brand Nature Republic sources) and it is a plant that likes to grow on dry soil. It was soon planted in Asia too, where the usage of aloe is very common today.
Aloe vera is especially good at treating irritated skin, it has amazing soothing properties. Even in Ancient Egypt, doctors were recommending patients to use the plant in order to heal burns and skin diseases. Today, it is a well-sought after ingredient in ayurvedic medicine. Its water-stocking property makes it a super core ingredient for the cosmetic industry too. It boasts an incredible hydration power and works to make sure your skin rests and gets rid of all impurities.
That is if you’re not me, of course.
I discovered my allergy to aloe a few years ago. I used to really enjoy drinking aloe drinks you can find in Asia, and I even had aloe yogurt quite regularly before heading off to school in Japan. But back then, I was still deep into puberty and one or two pimples more would never bring worry. However, as I was growing up in Paris, I realized that the few times I’d have aloe for snacks, I would wake up the next morning with a big, supple, red spot on my face. But the kick really happened the first time I visited Korea, in 2013, when I bought my first aloe cleansing gel (the marketing was so huge, and I loved the smell). Oh dude, that was hell. After a short season of on and off, I realized this was the source of my problem and since then, I try to avoid touching anything filled with super green extracts. But that’s the main problem: it’s not easy anymore. Until 2015, I was still doing a great job at keeping my skin safe but since then, it’s become a mine field. The wet tissues my colleague hands me over, the makeup remover I borrow to my friend on a sleepover, the dish washing liquid my mom uses… everything and everyone is unconsciously all about the A word.
But after a whole year of complex research and risky tests, I finally found a routine to survive beauty in the 21st century, all while living my aloe allergy in peace. I have an extremely sensitive skin, and it was really hard to find products and ingredients that would not irritate. Not that aloe vera is the only non-aggressive, soothing ingredient, but it’s so trendy and so-said safe that most brands go with it. Careful, it’s not always on the big picture. If you have this kind of allergy too, make sure to always check the ingredient list of the cosmetics you’re about to purchase. It happened to me a few times that I bought a product that wouldn’t scream ‘aloe vera’ but it sure was whispering it on my back.
The products I am about to recommend here are not magical answers to your questions and problems, because we all have different skins. But they can be hints for you to find your own magical beauty in a jar.
For soothing I trade aloe with green tea
Green tea is also an excellent soothing non-oxidized plant. A high concentration in tannin and polyphenol makes it a real baddass anti-oxidant agent and it’s also rich in Vitamin C. I like to apply my Green Tea in mask packs and my favorite are from Innisfree. The Korean eco-friendly brand is all about gentle skincare and its It’s Real line is amazing. I like to put it on for 20 to 30 minutes before tapping the leftover essence into my skin every other day.
For hydration I trade aloe with hyaluronic acid
No, I am not too young for hyaluronic acid and neither are you (except if you 14, then you are). This ingredient is famous for its high moisture content and its collagen boosting effect. It’s often used in anti-aging products but I found a less concentrated product that helps keep my skin moist without digging pimple yards. It’s an organic Micellar Water enriched in Hyaluronic Acid and Glacier water (so refreshing) that I use both as a makeup remover and as a wakeup call.
For purification I trade aloe with zinc, bha and tea tree
Purifying isn’t aloe’s main function but it always gives a friendly hand. In order to purify my skin and fight blackheads and pimples, I am concocting myself a magical broth using Sephora’s purifying Zinc booster (5 drops) and cosRX’s BHA Blackhead Power Liquid (1~2 drops) for 14 days a month, every morning and night. Then, the remaining days, I only use the second product and indulge into a tea tree mask pack (from Innisfree, again) once in a while. Imperfections and pore dilatation are proofs of a lack of zinc in your skin’s ecosystem, so it’s always smart to have this little booster for emergencies. BHA might be drying, it cleans the skin from within. You can find an excellent review of this product on my friend Kim’s blog, here. As for tea tree, it’s the perfect cleanser for evening out your skin. You can also use a tea tree toner, the one from Lush is pretty cool.
If you have an aloe allergy too, I hope these helps you find your soothing and hydrating routine too! If not, are you allergic to another beauty ingredient? Tell me more in the comment section below. If you liked this post, you can also support the blog by connecting with me through Instagram.