Aloe vera is a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for some 6,000 years. Ancient Egyptians depicted the plant on stone carvings. It was given to pharaohs as a burial gift and called the plant of immortality. The leaves of the aloe vera plant, also known as the lily of the desert, are filled with a clear gel that is used topically. The outer green part of the leaves are used to make aloe vera juice for internal use. Though there is no medical evidence that aloe vera helps tighten skin, there's no harm in trying it.
Proponents of aloe vera juice believe it is helpful for conditions such as diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and brittle bones. It is used topically for a host of skin conditions, including burns and abrasions. It also is found in a wide variety of beauty products. Aloe vera extract is recommended for skin tightening, skin brightening, acne and dry skin. It is said to increase collagen production and thus improve the texture of your skin.
The health and beauty website Quick and Dirty tips says skin-tightening cremes with aloe vera and other herbs and vitamins can help "hydrate and increase collagen and elastin formation in skin." The 3 Fat Chicks website states that aloe vera "makes skin more taut by charging up your body's collagen production." Other sites state that aloe vera helps close your pores, tighten up your skin and give it a smooth and toned look.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or NCCAM, writes that the topical use of aloe vera on your skin has no significant side effects. However, the oral consumption of aloe vera juice is much more dangerous. A study of rats linked aloe vera juice with intestinal tumors. Some people suffer cramps and diarrhea, and the latter can decrease the absorption of a number of prescription drugs you may be taking. In addition, if you have diabetes, don't take aloe vera orally -- studies suggest it may lower your blood glucose levels to a dangerous level.
Because there are no significant side effects associated with topical use of aloe vera, it won't hurt to try it out as a potential skin tightener or for other skin conditions. NCCAM says there is preliminary evidence that topical aloe vera might help heal burns and abrasions, although it seems to be counterproductive in cases of deep surgical wounds. The Ygoy website recommends applying a layer of aloe vera gel to your skin and then washing it off with lukewarm water when it dries. This is said to tighten skin, close pores, improve skin texture and help make your skin look smooth and toned.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.