Growing up, my Aunt who was a nurse was always using aloe vera to sooth and heal our 'summer cabin' skin, which was perpetually covered in a variety of burns, cuts, mystery rashes, and bites. I am just recently getting back to natural health basics and am reminded of all the amazing skin benefits of this good looking and diverse plant!
Aloe vera has a very long and rich history of being used throughout the ages all over the world to heal and soothe skin. The ancient Egyptians used it as lotion and called it the "plant of immortality", Native Americans used it for small wound healing and dubbed it the "Wand of the Heaven", while the ancient Greeks used it to cure baldness and insomnia. That's some high praise for such an unassuming succulent!
Unassuming, but POWERFUL!! With over 200 active components including vitamins (A,C,E, B1 - B12, & folic acid), minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and more), amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide, and fatty acids - along with it's production of six natural antiseptics which are able to kill mold, bacteria, funguses, and viruses - I think of aloe is one of the most versatile and effective natural healing agents on the planet!
There are many effective uses for aloe vera taken internally also, but I'm just going to focus on topical application for this Instructable.
Here is a list of some of the best (and my most favorite) topical aloe uses:
*NOTE: I am not a doctor, just a happy user. Please consult your physician before taking aloe internally or for serious skin issues or injuries.
1. Reduces itching and speeds up healing of stings and insect bites.
2. Helps eliminate Eczema.
3. Reduces the discomfort of rashes.
4. Speeds healing of burns and scrapes, helping to prevent scarring.
5. Removes eye makeup. (This one's my fave!! Apply as shown in the next step, and wipe off with a cotton ball or pad.)
6. Shrinks warts.
7. Prevents pimples & treats acne. (Run the hot water in your bathroom sink and steam your face for 3-5 minutes before applying. This will open up your pores and help the aloe get in there and do it's job!
8. Provides immediate relief for painful blisters.
9. Soothes and speeds healing of sunburned skin.
10. Replaces creams and lotions for treatment of dry skin.
Step 1: Harvesting & Application Tips
Depending on how much you need - which will be determined by how big of a skin surface area you need to cover - cut off a piece of aloe. (It's important to cut and NOT to tear as to not injure the plant) If you only need a small piece, just cut off a tip of one of the 'arms' and continue to use only that 'arm' until it is used up before moving on to another.
Regardless of the size of piece you need, slice it down the side and splay the piece open lengthwise. This gives you a nice broad surface area for application and helps avoid the sharp-ish edges from coming in contact with the affected area of skin.
Store unused piece(s) in a ziplock bag in the fridge. (They will last quite a while!)
Step 2: Bonus Tip!
If you have a painful sunburn, put your piece(s) of aloe in the fridge for one hour before you apply. The natural cooling effect of the aloe vera gel will be enhanced by the physically lowered temperature. You will feel immense relief FAST! And there is no limit to how often you can re-apply!! I have survived many an over-long, unintentional beach nap using this technique. (Thanks Auntie!)
Step 3: Easy Being Green!
This is such a low cost, no packaging (read: environmentally sound) way to take care of your skin. (No animal testing either! Unless you count yourself...) And the aloe will stay busy looking good while it's not in use. Four stars from me for this natural wonder!!
If you have other suggested uses for this miraculous plant, please share them with me in the comment section below!