Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle means having to stay away from harsh chemicals and man-made derivatives in favor of more natural ingredients and products. And when it comes to natural, nothing gets more natural than using aloe vera in its purest form.
What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera, or Aloe barbadensis, is a type of plant that grows in dry, tropical climates and has a multitude of uses ranging from skincare to medicine. It is usually characterized by long spiky leaves that are thick and fleshy. When split open, its green leaves reveal a translucent, jelly-like substance.
What’s so amazing about aloe vera?
If multipurpose was a plant, it would be aloe vera. Ayurvedic medicine has long since recorded aloe vera as a natural wonder due to the many benefits it has, and ancient Egyptians have touted aloe vera as the “plant of immortality”.
The gel from an aloe vera plant is rich in vitamins A, B, C, D and E as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Furthermore, it’s rich in the humectant and anti-inflammatory compounds that make it very useful in treating damaged skin.
How is it used?
Aloe vera can be used in a number of different ways, from skincare treatments to traditional medicine. Its multifunctionality appears to be just as endless as its list of benefits.
Aloe vera gel can be prepared as a drink or an additive to desserts to help ease digestion, promote regular bowel movement, or soothe stomach problems. While ingesting aloe vera is pretty safe, it can be irritating for some individuals, so it’s always best to consult a family physician to avoid any potential side effects.
Many people use aloe vera as a soothing gel, owing to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Applying aloe vera gel to minor cuts, scrapes or sunburns helps reduce the redness and speeds up the healing process. It can also be used to reduce itchiness from psoriasis, eczema, or even dandruff.
The plant jelly can also be extracted to make an aloe vera face mask. It acts as a humectant to trap moisture, keeping the skin of the face plump and well-hydrated. Many companies actually sell aloe vera gels that can be used as a mask, but a lot of these products contain additives, so it’s important to look for one that contains 100% pure aloe vera.
Zero-waste advocates also like to use aloe vera as a shaving gel. It provides just the right amount of consistency to ease the depilatory process, and its antiseptic properties ensure that any nicks and scrapes from the shaving do not get infected and heal faster.
Aloe vera gel has also been touted to help promote hair growth, and so many companies are also starting to produce aloe vera hair products. Its moisturizing, emollient properties are what make it so popular in skin, hair, and body care.
While aloe vera is very easy to grow, a lot of large grocery store chains carry pre-cut aloe vera leaves that make it easier to harvest the gel. Find your nearest grocery store to get some of that aloe vera goodness for yourself.