By Kim Robson:
Aloe Vera is the name commonly applied to dozens of plant species in the genus Aloe. This succulent, used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years in Greek, Egyptian and Roman cultures, is prized for its thick interior gel — perfect for soothing burns and skin irritations. Today, aloe is one of mankind’s most popular and commonly used plants.
We’ve mentioned uses for aloe vera gel many times on Green Mom, including a soothing cucumber eye gel (recipe below) for a DIY Spa Day, and also have discussed if it’s safe to ingest (not really). It’s a common item found in DIY Natural First Aid Kits. Aloe vera gel can be used also as a hair conditioner/texturizer, or as an ingredient in body scrubs and salves.
Too often, store-bought gels aren’t pure, unadulterated gel, but a mixture that includes all sorts of unwanted fillers and chemicals for viscosity and long shelf life. Avoid that neon green stuff you’ll find in the sunscreen aisle. Instead, head for the natural remedies section and look for 100% pure certified organic aloe vera gel with no parabens, artificial colors or animal testing. Aubrey Organicsand Lily of the Desertare both excellent brands.
Growing your own aloe plants is just about the easiest thing in the world. Many people keep them simply as decorative houseplants because they’re so foolproof and dramatic looking. So, in the spirit of DIY life, let’s learn how to make our own aloe vera gel at home!
Extracting Aloe Vera Gel
Use a sharp knife to cut an aloe leaf as close to the base of the plant as possible. Place the leaf upright in a bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. Discard any of the yellowish liquid that drains out and wash the leaf to remove any dirt. Trim the ends, and then cut off the sharp edges. Slice the leaf down through the center to create two opened halves (see instructional video below). Using a sharp-edged spoon, scrape all the clear jelly into a bowl. Don’t scrape too far down to the skin. Store the jelly in an airtight container in the refrigerator for two to three weeks
All-Purpose Soothing Aloe Vera Salve
- 5-6 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel
- 1 tsp Vitamin E oil (moisturizer, antioxidant and natural preservative)
Pureegel and oil in a blender. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three weeks. Apply topically to cuts, burns, minor wounds, rashes and sunburns. How does it work? Aloe’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties soothe and regenerate skin; glycoprotein compounds reduce inflammation and inhibit pain; and polysaccharide compounds moisturize skin and promote tissue repair. Vitamin E oil is a proven eraser of scars, moisturizer for skin, as well as a powerful antioxidant.
Cucumber and Aloe Vera Eye Gel
- 5-8 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel
- 1 English Cucumber
Got tired, puffy eyes? Freshen them up with this cucumber eye gel. First, peel the cucumber and chop into cubes. Place cucumber in a blender with the aloe gel and puree. Strain out the solids with a cheesecloth and discard the pulp. Apply chilled gel around eyes, and watch as those bags magically firm up! How does it work? Aloe is anti-inflammatory, and cucumbers have a cooling effect that helps reduce under eye swelling.
Aloe Vera, Honey, and Cinnamon Acne Mask
- 2 TBSP aloe vera gel
- 4 TBSP raw organic honey
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. Apply to face and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off mask with water and pat dry. How does it work? Aloe’s antibacterial properties prevent bacteria from infecting acne wounds, and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce redness. Honey and cinnamon are both naturally antibacterial, and honey’s osmotic effect literally dries up pimples.
Aloe Vera, Coconut, and Honey Hair Mask
- 5 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel
- 3 TBSP Coconut Oil
- 2 TBSP Honey
Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Massage mixture into scalp and then work down, paying special attention to the ends. When all the hair is coated, cover it with a shower cap and let sit for about 30 minutes. Wash out hair with shampoo, then condition as normal. How does it work? Amino acids and proteolytic enzymes in aloe improve scalp health, boost hair growth, and control hair shedding. Its anti-inflammatory properties soothe scalp irritation; its antifungal and antiviral properties help control dandruff; and its high levels of proteins, vitamins and minerals nourish follicles.
Do you have an aloe plant at home? Do you use its healing jelly? Let us know your experiences in the comments!