Aloe vera is a plant we’ve been using for decades. Not only has it made its way into popular gardening blogs and home décor shows, it’s also snuck into commercial burn creams, alternative treatments, and even traditional doctor’s offices. The purists will tell you straight from the plant is best, and, admittedly, it has more nutrition right off the stem. But between the challenges of prickly leaves, sticky goo, and properly neglecting your neglect-proof plants, keeping the thing alive for more than a year is worth a celebration.
Not to outdo the year milestone, but it’s been used for millennia; Cleopatra and Nefertiti both used it in their skincare regiment for soft skin and the Egyptians called it “the plant of immortality.” That’s because it’s pretty much a miracle for skin. It’s gel filling is chock full of healthy stuff; more than 10 vitamins and 20 minerals, including the rare B12, amino acids, fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C – take that for a multivitamin!
It’s antioxidant, which prevents premature aging caused by UV rays, smoking, and other radiation, whilst also adding elasticity to the skin, which can hide stretch marks. It’s an adaptogen; it helps your body adapt to external changes like stress and resist illnesses. Because of the natural production of happy natural ingredients like sulphur, salicylic acid, and phenol, it’s antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antibiotic, germicidal, antimicrobial, antiallergic, a disinfectant – the list goes on and on.
In Australia, we’re more than familiar with Aloe’s important role in suncare. Helping heal burnt skin better than any pharmacy cream, some studies suggest it can even prevent against further UV burns. It pretty much got us through sunburn season in ’09.
If you’re brave enough to eat it, it’s been known to balance digestion, alkalize the body, and even get rid of intestinal worms. That said, given the taste is somewhere between too-bitter parsley and non-alcoholic fermentation, we don’t have strong enough stomachs for it. Instead, we’ll just stick to what it’s best for: our skin.
Right out of the gate, aloe vera’s got 12 anti-inflammatory substances, naturally cooling the skin, and helps to activate the epidermis and stimulate the healing process because of all those nutrients. It’s a natural moisturizer, so it replaces the missing hydration in that unhappy, cracking skin. It also forms a barrier to keep out microbes and prevent further deterioration. Plus, it permeates so deeply into the skin, it can heal subdermally, so you’re not just treating your skin topically, but feeding it with essential nutrients that permeate much deeper to maintain healthy skin long term.
Maybe the Egyptians were right. Plant of immortality, you make it to the top of our ingredient list.