Let's face it: beauty can be a complex subject, especially when it comes to choosing safe, effective, and reasonably priced cosmetics and other beauty related products. It can be a guessing game: what's really in this product? Have the ingredients been tested? Will I have a reaction to some unknown ingredient?
Fortunately, there are many common, all-natural options for your beauty and health needs, including many different flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables, and their parts, as well as minerals and other gifts from nature. Among those options is aloe vera.
What's so special about aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a short-stemmed succulent that has been valued for millennia for its health and beauty properties. Today, aloe vera is used in the cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical industries to the tune of about $13 billion around the world.
One of the things that makes aloe vera so special is the slimy gel found in its thick leaves. This gel contains various active compounds, including amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, lignin, minerals, and vitamins (including vitamins A, C, and E, folic acid, and vitamin B12).
You can harvest aloe vera gel yourself from plants you grow on your own. This can be a rewarding and fun process, but some people find it cumbersome. The leaves of the plant have thorns that can cut your fingers when you harvest the gel by scraping it away from the leaves. Another option is to purchase pure aloe vera gel from a reputable company. In both cases, you want organic aloe vera gel.
Aloe Vera for beauty
You can use aloe vera gel alone for many beauty needs, including those mentioned here.
- Moisturizer. Plain aloe vera gel can be applied to your face to help soften it. The gel doesn't make your face feel greasy or clog your pores.
- Anti-aging gel. The vitamins in aloe vera gel may provide some anti-inflammatory and anti-aging help. This gel also has an ability to lighten blemishes and age spots when mixed with lemon juice, which can erase a few years from your face.
- Astringent. Aloe vera gel can help reduce the size of your pores, which prevents the accumulation of sebum, microbes, and dirt that contribute to acne and pimples.
- Hair growth promotor. Use of aloe vera gel on your scalp may stimulate hair growth by boosting the blood circulation to the scalp and improving the hair's elasticity, which prevents breakage. Enzymes in the gel also may help rejuvenate the scalp.
- Dandruff fighter. Massaging aloe vera gel into your hair and scalp can help reduce dry skin, manage fungal infections, and soothe oily or irritated skin, all of which are causes of dandruff.
Aloe Vera gel recipes for beauty
Although you can use aloe vera gel alone for your skin and hair, the addition of one or more other natural ingredients can enhance the benefits of the gel. Here are a few easy beauty recipes that are based on aloe vera gel.
Daily facial wash. You want to wash your face with something gentle yet effective, and aloe vera gel fits the bill, especially when it is combined with a few other natural ingredients. In a small glass bottle, combine 4 tablespoons of pure aloe vera gel, 2 ½ teaspoons each of jojoba oil and liquid castile soap, and 1 drop of orange essential oil (optional). Shake well and then add ½ teaspoon of white cosmetic clay. Shake again. Wet your face with water and apply a small amount of the facial wash to your hands. Wash your face as you usually do and rinse clean.
Skin toner. If you want to tighten your pores, remove any nasty dirt or microorganisms, reduce redness, and help keep your skin moist, then this natural skin toner recipe is for you. Depending on how oily your skin is, this recipe has either three or four ingredients: water, green or white tea, aloe vera, and witch hazel. For dry to normal skin, steep two green or white tea bags (or equivalent in dry tea) for five minutes in 8 ounces of boiled water. Remove the tea bags, let the tea cool, and add 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel. Stir well and add to a spray bottle or glass bottle. Spritz on your face or apply with cotton balls daily. If your skin is oily, add 2 ounces of witch hazel to the mixture after the aloe vera and stir well.
Shaving gel. Some women use aloe vera gel alone as a shaving gel, but you also can add a few extra ingredients for a special shaving experience. You will need the following ingredients:
¼ cup aloe vera gel
¼ cup warm water
½ cup liquid castile soap
2 Tbs vegetable glycerine
1 Tbs almond oil
6 drops tea tree essential oil
½ teaspoon salt
Dissolve the salt in the water and mix in all of the remaining ingredients. Blend well and put into a container with a lid. If you have an empty hand soap pump bottle, it's really easy to use!
Hair conditioner. Forget those expensive commercial conditioners! Here is an all-natural, DIY answer for conditioning all types of hair. All you need is one lemon, ¼ cup aloe vera gel, and 3 to 5 drops of your favorite essential oil. Squeeze the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add the aloe vera gel and blend the ingredients well. Choose an essential oil based on your hair type. For example, lavender is good for normal hair, while basil, lemon, and rosemary are great for oily hair. If your hair is dry, try peppermint. After you shampoo your hair, work the conditioner in and leave it on for five minutes. Rinse with warm water.
[Editor's Note: We trust the quality of Lily of the Desert for their aloe vera gel because they grow and harvest of all of their own aloe plants.]