A woman with leaf covering her face.

For thousands of years, aloe vera has been recognized as one of nature’s most powerful wonders. A cactus-like plant that usually grows in tropical climates — including the Philippines — it’s been used throughout history to heal wounds, soothe burns, as well as to treat a variety of skin conditions. In fact, in many Filipino households, the use of aloe vera is considered a “beauty secret” that’s passed on from generations to generations (You can ask your lola!). But what exactly makes it such a beloved beauty ingredient?

Much ado about aloe vera

Read up on all the benefits of aloe vera for your skin.

The magic lies in the gel found inside the innermost layer of the aloe leaf. A clear, gooey substance, it’s made up of up to 99% water and around 75 potentially active ingredients — including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids, according to a study published in the International Journal of Research and Medical Sciences. This, as well as the aloe juice extracted from the plant’s rind, are used in a variety of skincare products — from moisturizers and face mists to toners and micellar water formulas.

If you’ve yet to experience the skin-saving powers of aloe vera, here’s a quick rundown of its benefits—and why you should consider adding it to your routine.

It’s a potent moisturizer.

Since the gel is mostly water, it’s no surprise that one of its primary benefits is to add moisture to the skin, making it a great remedy against dryness, flaking, and even itching. Its light composition makes it easily absorbed, gently smoothening and softening the complexion without any greasiness. And because it’s all-natural, it’s great for sensitive skin types.

It’s a skin soother.

Ever heard of using aloe to calm a bad sunburn? It’s no myth. Aloe vera is rich in compounds called polysaccharides, which promote skin healing and renewal, as well as a natural pain reliever called carboxypeptidase. Even better: It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective in treating common skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. A quick note, though: If you have irritated skin, it’s best to do a patch test first as aloe can cause allergic contact dermatitis in some people.

It helps fight acne.

One of nature’s antiseptics, aloe vera is known to inhibit the formation of bacteria, fungi, and viruses on the skin, minimizing your risk for infections. It also contains salicylic acid, a known exfoliant that helps prevent pimples and other blemishes by unclogging the pores.

It slows down the signs of aging.

Since it’s packed with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E, aloe helps ward off damage from the sun and external pollutants to prevent the signs of premature aging. It also aids in stimulating the skin’s natural collagen and elastin, a.k.a. proteins necessary to keep skin smooth, firm, and elastic.

It improves the skin tone.

Thanks to aloin, a natural depigmenting compound, aloe vera also works to promote a clearer, more even skin tone by preventing discoloration and gently lightening skin. (The antioxidants help in this department, too!)

For an all-over skin pick-me-up, try Block and White Gel Lotion with Aloe Vera Vitamins, which is infused with 100% aloe vera essence to leave skin fresher, cooler, and brighter with regular use.

Clearly, aloe vera truly packs a punch when it comes to delivering benefits for your skin. So, if you’re looking to add a soothing, moisturizing, and nourishing kick to your routine, an aloe-infused skin saver just might be what you need.