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Does aloe vera darken skin?

Aloe vera is a popular ingredient in many skin care products. It’s known for its soothing, hydrating, and potential healing properties. However, there are some claims that aloe vera can actually darken skin over time. So does aloe vera really darken skin? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What Is Aloe Vera?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that originated in northern Africa. It’s been used for centuries in herbal medicine traditions to treat skin conditions and wounds. The inner gel-like substance of the aloe leaf is what contains the active compounds. This clear gel is made up of 99% water, but also contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones, saponins, and amino acids.

Some of aloe vera’s key compounds include:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E – Antioxidants that help fight skin damage
  • Vitamin B12 – Supports skin cell regeneration
  • Amino acids – Building blocks of proteins needed for healthy skin
  • Enzymes – Aid in digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Minerals like calcium, copper, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and chromium
  • Fatty acids – Provide moisture and nourishment to skin
  • Polysaccharides – Promote skin growth and repair

These nutrients in aloe vera provide several proposed benefits for skin, including reducing inflammation, increasing moisture, fighting bacteria, enhancing cell regeneration, and removing dead skin cells.

Does Aloe Vera Have Any Side Effects?

When used appropriately, aloe vera is considered safe for topical use. However, some people can experience side effects.

Potential side effects of using aloe vera on skin include:

  • Rashes – Allergic reactions are possible
  • Burning or stinging – Caused by the plant’s latex content
  • Irritation – Those with sensitive skin may experience redness or itching
  • Photosensitivity – Increased sun sensitivity, especially in high doses

Drinking aloe vera juice can also cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea in some people.

It’s a good idea to do a patch test before applying aloe vera regularly to make sure you won’t have an adverse reaction. Start by applying a small amount to your inner forearm and watch for 24-48 hours to check for irritation.

Does Aloe Vera Lighten or Darken Skin?

There are claims on both sides of this debate – some arguing aloe vera has skin lightening properties, while others say it causes pigmentation. So what’s the real story?

Here’s a look at some of the evidence on both sides:

Evidence That Aloe Vera Lightens Skin

  • Contains vitamins C and E which inhibit melanin production
  • Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to reduce hyperpigmentation
  • Exfoliates dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin
  • Some small studies show aloe gel creams reduced facial pigmentation from UV exposure

Based on this information, aloe vera does appear to hold some potential for lightening skin and improving tone. The vitamins and antioxidants it contains can inhibit melanin production and reduce existing hyperpigmentation. Plus, its mild exfoliating properties remove dead cells to reveal fresher skin.

Evidence That Aloe Vera Darkens Skin

  • Contains anthraquinones that may cause photosensitivity and sun damage leading to dark spots
  • Has hormonal effects that could potentially stimulate melanin production
  • Alkaline nature of aloe may interact poorly with skin’s acidic pH and cause irritation
  • Some user testimonials report increased tanning and melasma after using aloe vera

The main mechanisms by which aloe vera could potentially cause skin darkening have to do with increasing sun sensitivity, stimulating melanin production, and irritating skin.

However, current research specifically linking aloe to skin darkening is lacking. Most evidence is anecdotal. It’s possible that improper use or combining it with other products like retinol could heighten sensitivity.

Tips for Using Aloe Vera Safely

If you want to use aloe vera on your skin, there are some best practices to follow:

  • Do a patch test first to check for allergic reactions.
  • Use 100% pure inner leaf gel, not “aloe vera juice” which may contain added ingredients.
  • Avoid using aloe vera if you take blood thinners or diabetes medications.
  • Don’t apply to open wounds or burns without consulting your doctor.
  • Start with lower concentrations around 10-25% gel.
  • Only use for short periods of 2-4 weeks at a time.
  • Rinse it off after 20-30 minutes max.
  • Always wear SPF when going outside after applying aloe vera.
  • Stop using if you notice any irritation or darkening.

Following these tips will help minimize the risks of aloe vera causing any unwanted skin reactions.

The Bottom Line

There isn’t strong research evidence indicating pure aloe vera will darken normal skin. Most claims of skin darkening relate to improper use, impure products, or combining it with ingredients like retinol that increase sun sensitivity.

Aloe vera does contain compounds that may both lighten and darken skin. But studies are still inconclusive on its true effects on skin pigmentation with regular use. The research we have shows its antioxidants may provide some brightening benefits.

It’s best to be cautious with aloe vera until more research is done. But if you follow proper usage guidelines, do a patch test, and monitor your skin’s reaction, using aloe vera gel from the leaf likely poses minimal risks for those with healthy skin. Just don’t rely on aloe vera alone to lighten your complexion. Consult a dermatologist if you have pigmentation concerns and always wear sun protection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does drinking aloe vera juice darken skin?

There is no evidence that drinking aloe vera by itself will darken skin. However, some juice products contain additives and preservatives that could potentially cause skin reactions in some people.

Can I use aloe vera gel every day?

It’s generally safe to use pure aloe gel daily for short periods of 2-4 weeks. But long-term daily use without breaks could increase risks of adverse effects, so it’s best to cycle on and off.

Is it OK to leave aloe vera on your face overnight?

It’s not recommended. Leaving aloe vera on the skin for extended periods can potentially cause irritation. Plus, the skin absorbs active ingredients best within the first 30 minutes. Rinse off after 20-30 minutes max.

Can I mix aloe vera with lemon juice?

No, you should never apply lemon juice to your skin as it can cause severe burning, irritation, and photosensitivity. Mixing it with aloe vera could exacerbate these negative effects.

Does aloe vera really help acne and scars?

Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound healing properties show promise for treating acne and reducing the appearance of acne scars. But more research is still needed. Talk to your dermatologist about best practices. Don’t rely on aloe alone to treat active breakouts or scarring.


Based on current evidence, it seems unlikely that pure aloe vera gel would cause skin darkening on its own for most people. However, those with extra sensitive skin should still use caution and monitor for any adverse reactions. Following best practices for safe use, doing a patch test first, and not relying solely on aloe for skin lightening will help minimize any risks. More research is still needed to determine aloe vera’s true effects on skin pigmentation over time. But for healthy individuals using pure aloe gel appropriately, it likely poses minimal to low risks for skin darkening or other negative side effects.