A plant from hot, desert regions, with fleshy, thorny-edged leaves. Originating in Africa, it has spread to other parts of the world, in particular the West Indies. Aloe Vera has been known as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. It is thought that its pronounced anti-inflammatory effect, which is at the same time moisturizing and soothing, is to be attributed to the presence in the plant of polysaccharides (glucomannan, galactose, pentose, uronic acid). Moreover, it is probable that the beneficial effects of aloe on the skin are due above all to a synergic effect of the active components present in the gel. Aloe vera, apart from the already mentioned sugars, contains: several amino acids, some acids (citric, malic, succinic), acids from polyunsaturated fats (y-linolenic and arachidonic), several enzymes (among which cyclooxygenase), some saponins, anthracenic compounds, an essential oil, vitamins, mineral salts and some hormone-like substances. In modern cosmetic formulations, aloe vera extracts are used to good result as they are refreshing, softening, brightening and soothing, when used in products whose function is to relieve irritating sensations of the skin or the mucous membranes. The most significant uses of aloe vera in cosmetics are as a moisturizing, soothing and smoothing support both for the face and the body, as a re-hydrator and, in a certain sense, soother for sunburn in after-sun products (skin exposed to solar radiation for lengthy periods needs re-hydration) and in the direct preparation of products for protection against sunburn.
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