Known as the ‘plant of immortality’ in ancient Egypt, aloe vera has been used for centuries as a health and wellness staple by people all over the world. Treasured by royalty, like Cleopatra and Nefertiti (who used it as a beauty elixir) to soldiers (who used it to treat wounds after battles), to everyday folks (like us, who use it to soothe sunburn), aloe is a versatile and powerful healing agent. In fact, Greek philosophers believed aloe vera was the universal panacea (remedy) for every ailment, inside and out!
Today, you’ll find aloe vera gel beside the sunscreen in any drugstore aisle. But did you know that slathering this substance on sore, sunburned skin isn’t the only modern-day use for it? Here are five ways to add aloe to your routine.
(If using topically, do a spot check first to make sure you aren’t allergic before applying to greater areas of your skin!)
5 Everyday Aloe Vera Uses
1. Nourishing hair mask
Aloe vera gel makes a magnificent hair mask, providing deep cleaning benefits, soothing the scalp and encouraging new hair growth, thanks to its nutrient profile rich in skin-supporting vitamins, antioxidants and fatty acids. Applied to your head, aloe helps to:
- Soothe scalp conditions like dandruff
- Clear excess oil build-up, creating shiny, feathery-soft hair
- Promote increased blood flow to the scalp, supporting strong and healthy hair follicles
How to use:
Squeeze a dollop of aloe vera gel into your hands and work it through damp hair, from tips to roots. Allow to sit for 10 to 20 minutes, then wash out in the shower. Repeat every other week for a deep cleaning, nourishing hair treatment.
Aloe vera has potent antiseptic properties, making it a great germ-fighting, cavity-preventing natural toothpaste. Aloe latex (juice) has a high concentration of anthraquinones, a natural anti-inflammatory compound that actively heals and reduces pain. One study published in General Dentistry showed an aloe vera tooth gel was as effective (and in some cases even more effective) at destroying cavity-causing organisms as two commercially popular brands of toothpaste.
But, buyers must beware. If the aloe is improperly filtered or heated to too high a temperature during the creation of the toothpaste, or if most of the aloe juice/gel comes from the leaves and not the center of the plant, it’s not as effective at fighting cavity-causing organisms. Experts suggest buyers consult the International
3. Facial exfoliator and moisturizer
One of the biggest benefits of aloe vera is its ability to soothe and repair skin. It’s packed with all sorts of compounds that help deep clean and tighten pores, soften skin and help reduce the look of wrinkles. And because it’s a natural source of salicylic acid, aloe vera can even help to calm acne.
How to use:
Mix one teaspoon baking soda with two teaspoons aloe vera gel, then apply to face in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water, then pat face dry.
4. Moisturizing shaving cream
Whipping up homemade aloe vera shaving cream will not only save you money, you’ll also enjoy all the natural skin-soothing effects of the plant.
How to use:
Combine ½ cup olive oil with 1 ½ cups aloe vera gel, then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. (Tea tree, lavender or peppermint will add greater soothing, cooling effects.) Stir together all ingredients, then store in an airtight container sealed with a lid. Mixture will keep for a couple of weeks.
For occasional digestive sluggishness, aloe vera latex (juice) can be used as a natural laxative. Those compounds mentioned earlier, anthraquinones are anti-inflammatory, but they can also have a laxative effect on your body – so proceed with caution. Aloe vera also may help soothe symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.