It's good for so much more than treating sunburns.
If you're looking for a light moisturizer to wear during the dry winter months, consider using aloe vera gel. This naturally derived product is harvested from the stalks of aloe vera plants, which ooze a thick clear sap when cut open. This liquid is mostly water (99.5 percent), but the remaining 0.5 percent is a combination of mucopolysaccharides, choline and choline salicylate.
These substances benefit skin in several ways, according to dermatologist Zoe Draelos. Mucopolysaccharides create a thin, protective film over the skin that shields nerve endings. Choline salicylate is an anti-inflammatory that soothes skin. Most commonly these are used to treat sunburns, but experts say they're effective at reducing wrinkles and premature aging, providing moisture to dry or irritated skin, and treating skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, acne, or excessive oiliness.
Aloe vera has a good reputation for improving acne and clearing up clogged pores. One woman, Nicole Hansalik, who has struggled with seriously inflamed skin on her face for years, said switching to aloe vera made a huge difference. She wrote,
"As difficult as it was, I've stopped using all my luxury moisturizers and serums—the ones that are always touted as noncomedogenic, a.k.a. non-pore-clogging. It was hard to believe that aloe vera gel was the only hydration my skin needed, but, as it turns out, it is. I haven't noticed any dry skin patches or even lasting tightness. After I wash my face and slather on some aloe vera gel, my skin feels clean and, most importantly, light. Not dry or tight at all!"
You may have a bottle kicking around from when you had a bad sunburn last summer, but that's not necessarily the stuff to use. Some aloe vera gels have far more added ingredients than actual aloe vera, many of which could be irritating chemicals, so you'll want to check the ingredient list carefully. Avoid fragrances, paraben-based preservatives, and alcohol, which can exacerbate dryness. Look for products that rate highly on the EWG's Skin Deep database, such as Aromatics 95% Organic Aloe Vera Gel or Badger Unscented Aloe Vera Gel.
Another great option is to make your own aloe-based moisturizer or face mask. Start with harvesting gel directly from a plant (direction via Quora).
- Thoroughly wash and clean a freshly cut aloe vera leaf.
- Split the leaf vertically with a sharp knife
- Scrape the translucent gel from the middle of a leaf carefully.
- Store it immediately in a sealed jar to avoid oxidation.
If you cannot do this, buy the best quality aloe vera you can find. Use this gel directly on your face or combine with any of the following ingredients for a great natural facial:
- Grated cucumber squeezed through a sieve to create juice. Mix with aloe vera gel, apply to face, and leave for 1 hour. Rinse off.
- Juice of 1 lemon, blended with aloe vera gel, applied to face and left for 30 minutes before rinsing.
- Yogurt mixed in equal parts with aloe vera gel. It contains lactic acid, which is good for removing impurities, clearing pores, and getting rid of dead skin. Apply to face for 30 minutes, then rinse.
- Honey, mixed in equal parts with aloe vera gel. Leave on face for 30 minutes.