Aloe Vera is well known as a treatment for sunburn but it can also be used to treat eczema, dandruff and even acne. Aloe is now found in many drugstore products including moisturisers for sensitive skin, shampoos for dandruff and many anti-aging products. You can keep it in a pot in your house and snip little pieces off as needed or use a store bought gel.
The aloe vera plant is believed to have originated on the Arabian peninsula but is now cultivated almost worldwide for the natural medicine and beauty industries.
In India, it is used for skin complaints as well as digestive health. In the west, it is found in a range of skincare products and is also used in the treatment of intestinal complaints. Chinese medicine uses aloe as a treatment for fungal infections.
It is a member of the succulent family. The sap/gel derived from the fleshy cells on the inside of the plant can be applied to the skin directly or collected to be used in natural remedies.
For your skin:
There are many aloe vera aftersun products on the market but many contain large amounts of chemicals and alcohol. There are a few products that are 90-100% aloe vera gel. Read the label as always. The most natural way of using aloe for sunburn is to snip off the end of a leaf and rub the gel from the centre of the plant onto the affected area.
Aloe vera has a cooling and soothing effect on sunburned skin because of its light, non-greasy consistency and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains the plant sterols Campesterol, Sitosterol and Lupeol that inhibit the skin’s inflammatory response. Simply put, it takes away redness, pain and swelling.
All the things we hate about sunburn…which we shouldn’t be getting in the first place…
Aloe Vera gel seals in moisture without a greasy film. Because of its high water content, it provides the skin with light moisture without clogging pores or adding shine to oily skin. It also has mild astringent properties that will help to minimise the appearance of pores.
Aloe vera is rich in Vit C, E and Beta-carotene. They are all wonderful antioxidants that fight free radicals and cell damage! Antioxidants protect the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Taken internally it increases production of collagen and improves skin elasticity.
Aloe vera helps to heal small surface wounds and cuts because it improves cell turnover, reduces inflammation and fights bacteria. By fighting infection and reducing inflammation, aloe gel helps to reduce scarring. The gel penetrates quickly and seals in moisture to keep skin supple and healthy.
Reduce Acne and Infection
Aloe Vera cleanses gently because it doesn’t strip the skin of moisture and because of it’s anti-microbial properties it prevents infection. It’s antibacterial, antiseptic & anti-inflammatory properties help the skin to heal more quickly.
Aloe Vera protects skin from bacteria that lead to infection and inflammation. Applied to a breakout it will reduce redness and swelling.
Lighten Blemishes / Pigmentation
Acne and skin infections cause scarring because the body’s natural reaction to inflammation is to produce melanin. This causes dark spots and uneven skin tone. Aloe Vera contains gibberellins & polysaccharides that stimulate the growth of new cells. They speed up cell turnover and production which helps to get rid of the discolouration and scarring.
The glycoproteins in Aloe Vera reduce inflammation and redness while you have an active acne breakout. By reducing the inflammation it also reduces the scarring and pigmentation left behind when the spots heal.
Razor burn and bumps
Aloe Vera moisturises the skin and softens hair. It creates a smooth surface for a close shave. By applying it before you shave you also reduce the bacteria on the skin surface that can infect pores and cause razor bumps or rashes.
If you already have razor bumps you can apply aloe after your shower to help reduce redness by killing bacteria and stopping inflammation. It will also soften your skin to help prevent ingrown hairs.
It even works as a shaving gel for men.
For Your Hair and Scalp
Hair loss can be due to medical conditions, skin conditions, fungal/bacterial infections or unhealthy hair care routines. If you do not remove product buildup regularly it can cause skin irritation, dry/dull hair and an itchy scalp.
Aloe vera promotes healthy hair growth by taking care of the scalp. It moisturises the skin and helps to repair skin cells by killing bacteria and fighting fungal infections. It also reduces inflammation and itching caused by dandruff.
While preventing further hair loss it also nourishes your hair. Aloe has some of the same cellular structures and Keratin which is the main protein in hair. It helps to smooth and repair hair strands while balancing the oils on the scalp. By balancing the oil levels, you may not need to wash or dry shampoo your hair as often.
There are also claims that aloe vera will increase blood circulation to the scalp which helps to keep hair roots healthy and promote growth. There is some evidence that it prevents hair from falling out by keeping the scalp healthy.
Aloe Vera Recipes
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel – you can use the gel from the drug store. Just make sure that it’s between 90-100% aloe.
1/2 cup strong green tea – Use 1 green tea bag and steep in 1/2 a cup of hot water for 10 minutes.
1 tsp witch hazel extract (optional)
Small spray bottle or container.
Wait until the green tea has cooled then mix in your aloe gel and witch hazel. You can also add 2 drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil if you have acne.
Pour the mixture into your container and use as a toner after cleansing.
Shake before use
- Eye Makeup Remover
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
2 drops chamomile essential oil to soothe tired skin.
Mix the ingredients together and put in a small container. Apply to your eyelids, allow to work for a minute and remove with damp cotton pads or a cleansing wipe.
Shake before use
- Skin Brightening Scrub for Pigmentation
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon aloe gel
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix the ingredients together. Cleanse your face properly, removing all makeup and skincare products. Apply the scrub using your fingers. Avoid the eye area. Gently scrub your skin, concentrating on the areas with scarring or pigmentation. Leave the scrub for 5 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
- Aloe & Honey Face Mask for Acne
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
1 teaspoon honey
Simply mix the ingredients together. Wash your face properly and apply the mask to the slightly damp skin. Leave it to dry for at least 20 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry.
- Dry Skin Mask
2 cm chunk of cucumber
1 teaspoon aloe vera gel
1 teaspoon natural yoghurt
Put all your ingredients in a blender and blend together. You can also add a teaspoon of oats to thicken the mix. Wash your skin and apply your mask to warm, slightly damp skin. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse with warm water.
- Foot Scrub
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons aloe gel
4 drops of mint or eucalyptus oil
Mix all the ingredients together. Soak your feet in a bath of warm water with some lemon juice or cucumber slices.
Scrub your feet with the mixture. Concentrate on the rough areas on the heals and sides of the big and little toes. Sit still for a few minutes then rinse the scrub off with warm water. Apply some aloe gel to your feet and put your socks on.
Aloe Vera has many uses. The juice is good for indigestion and general intestinal health. Be careful when you buy Aloe products to check that there aren’t too many added chemicals or ingredients.