Aloe vera gel is one of nature’s wonders for skin health and so much more. Keeping a low-maintenance aloe plant around the house is the easiest way to ensure a steady supply of the good stuff. Just slice a spiky leaf off the plant, then open the spear lengthwise to harvest the gel inside. If you are shopping for gel, look for 100 percent pure Aloe vera gel. Many products (especially green or blue formulas) have additives and preservatives.
1. Treat teeth: Naturally antifungal and antibacterial, aloe can help treat bad breath. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory b-sitosterol, which soothes acid indigestion—a common cause of bad breath—it can help kill bad bacteria, as well as fight tooth decay and gum disease. Dissolve 1/4 cup aloe gel in 1/2 cup water and drink to improve breath and oral health.
2. Soothe burned skin: Various studies have shown aloe to be useful in treating wounds and burns. Scoop aloe gel into an ice cube tray and freeze until hardened. To use, apply an ice cube to the affected area for about one minute, until skin starts to feel numb and ice cube begins to melt. To treat larger areas, such as a sunburn, apply the gel several times a day to keep skin hydrated and healing properly.
3. Banish bruises: Aloe’s soothing power can also be used to treat bruises. Apply aloe gel directly onto the bruise.
4. Heal athlete’s foot: Athlete’s foot, a common fungal infection, is another condition that antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory aloe can help tackle. Mix aloe gel with a few drops of tea tree essential oil, another powerful antifungal, to create a soothing ointment. Apply onto the affected area twice a day until the infection fully disappears.
5. Shaving cream: Combined with olive oil, aloe vera makes a great shaving gel. Mix 1 part olive oil with 3 parts aloe gel. Optionally, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance. Mix well and use. Store the remaining mixture in a container with a tight lid, where it will keep for up to a week.
6. Wrinkle repair: A study of women in their 40s found that aloe gel can significantly improve wrinkles and elasticity in photoaged human skin. Apply pure aloe gel to the affected area, or apply a mixture of aloe gel with a few drops of vitamin E oil and lavender essential oil. You can even allow the solution to soak into your face overnight, washing it off with cool water the following morning.
7. Super smoothie: Instead of buying store-bought aloe juice, use aloe gel to make a delicious health-benefiting smoothie. It may not be the tastiest plant on the planet, but added to your favorite smoothie recipe, it can make a delicious treat.
8. Lip gloss: Use aloe to protect and moisturize lips. Its high moisture content is soothing, and it feels especially great on cold sores. Keep your lips kissable with this homemade solution: Mix 1 teaspoon fresh aloe gel with 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/8 teaspoon vitamin E oil. Pour into a small, clean container and use up!
9. Sanitize hands: Fight germs with a homemade aloe-infused hand sanitizer. In a spray bottle, combine 2 teaspoons aloe gel with 1 tablespoon witch hazel and 2 teaspoons vitamin E oil. Next, add 10 drops each lavender and tea tree essential oil, as well as enough filtered water to almost fill your spray bottle. Shake before use.
10. Face wash: Use aloe to create a gentle face cleanser. Mix 1/4 cup aloe gel with 2 tablespoons sweet almond or olive oil and 1 tablespoon castile soap. Add about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil, then use as you would a normal face cleanser. Make it an exfoliating scrub instead by replacing the castile soap with 1/4 cup brown sugar.