Aloe vera (also listed by its Latin name of aloe barbadenis) is a commonly used plant extract that has soothing properties, antioxidant qualities, and serves as a hydrating agent for skin due to its polysaccharide and sterol content. Aloe is a good ingredient, but its benefits tend to be over exaggerated in the cosmetics worlds and more research is needed in regards to its effectiveness for some of the more outlandish or miraculous-sounding claims.
In pure form straight from the leaves, aloe vera’s benefits for skin include its lack of occlusion and the refreshing sensation it provides (hence, why it’s in common “after sun” products).
Note: Some brands use aloe in place of water in their products, but aloe is actually 99.5% water.
References for this information:
Giornale Italiano Di Dermatologia, February 2009, pages 85-91
Indian Journal of Dematology, 2008, pages 163-166
Skin Research and Technology, November 2006, pages 241-246
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, December 1999, pages 3-37