You Need an Aloe Vera Plant If You Want to Be a Skincare Queen
Growing up as a pale kid, I had to learn how to soothe my sunburned skin in the summer. But it wasn't until I was 16 that I learned you can hack off a leaf from a live aloe vera plant and apply its gel to a sunburn for instant, all-natural relief.
I was staying with my friend at her aunt's house in LA and had gotten pretty burnt after a day at Venice Beach. So my friend's aunt showed me how to cut a piece from the aloe plant growing in her yard and apply its clear gel to my red skin. The cool, hydrating relief was almost like magic to me, a girl who grew up in the Chicago suburbs and had no idea that aloe came from a succulent plant and not just a bottle at the pharmacy.
Years later, I came across an aloe vera plant for sale, and remembering how soothing it was on my sunburned skin, promptly bought it. I've since discovered that aloe has so many other benefits, that owning a plant will essentially make you a skincare queen.
Aloe Vera Plant Benefits (Besides Treating Sunburns)
Fights acne. In my experience, it works best on popped pimples because the aloe gel has antiseptic properties, and it can help close the wound. Leave the pure gel on for 15–20 minutes, then wash it off. Optionally, mix with honey for an extra shot of hydration.
Soothes kitchen burns. Aloe applied to a fresh burn may help speed up healing. Mix the gel with vitamin E oil to speed up healing even more.
Calms itchy skin. Aloe applied to a rash or insect bite can help take out some of the itch.
Erases psoraisis plaques. There is some evidence that aloe may reduce the appearance of psoraisis skin plaques.
How to Prepare Aloe
- Using a sharp knife, cut a thick leaf from the bottom of your plant. While the leaf won't grow back, it won't hurt the plant, which should continue to produce leaves.
- Slice off the bottom few inches and the top few inches from the leaf. Hold the leaf upright and let the yellow sap, a substance called aloe latex, drain into a sink. That latex can cause skin irritation, so avoid getting it on your cutting board if you can. Rinse your plant to get rid of any remaining latex.
- Cut off the thorny sides by making one smooth cut from the top of the leaf to the bottom.
- Fillet the rest of the leaf like a fish. Lay the leaf flat on your cutting board, and slice a few millimeters below the green skin to remove it. Do the same with the bottom.
- Use the clear gel that you've removed on your skin.
Other Aloe Vera Plant Uses
People eat and drink it. Consuming aloe is a bit controversial. Aloe contains vitamins that the body needs, including B, C, and E. So people like to drink aloe juice or eat chunks of aloe gel to improve their overall health and promote healthy complexions from the inside-out.
However, there are a lot of risks associated with drinking aloe, from causing diarrhea and abdominal pain to preventing the body from absorbing nutrients. It also can cause low blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Plus, some juices contain the yellow aloe latex. A component of that is aloin, which has been linked to the development of tumors in rats.
Bottom line? It's probably best to avoid consuming aloe vera, but if you are going to, do whatever you can to avoid the yellow latex. Choose juice bottles that say "decolorized aloe vera juice," which means that potentially cancerous aloin has been removed.
What to Do If You Don't Have a Plant
Aloe is actually pretty hard to kill, even if you live in the cold Midwest. It will survive as houseplant and requires infrequent watering. But if you have no interest in having your own plant, you can pick up giant aloe leaves from most grocery stores and international markets.
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Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.