The aloe vera cactus may not seem like the obvious beauty treat, but this succulent has an unprecedented healing effect on skin and body. Read on to discover its healthful benefits, both inside and out.
WHY A SPIKY CACTUS PLANT HOLDS THE SECRET TO BEAUTIFUL SKIN
Aloe vera is a bona fide super ingredient, with a long list of health benefits and a celebrity following that dates right back to Egyptian times. Cleopatra used the plant in her beauty regime, selecting it to treat everything from burns to infections and parasites.
Jennifer Aniston, a self-confessed sun-worshipper, is also a huge fan. The Hollywood star grows it in her back garden in California and applies it after a session in the sun to cool down her skin and calm any sunburn.
But it’s not only the rich and famous who reap the benefits of aloe vera for skin, it’s well known among health and beauty aficionados who seek out the medicinal wonder ingredient in everything from food supplements, drinks and smoothies to cleansers, masks and after sun care. Why? The jelly-like substance found inside the thick spiky leaves of the aloe vera cactus is laden with an impressive list of nutrients, including 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids and 200 active plant compounds or phytonutrients.
There’s a myriad of health benefits attributed to the plant. As well as being a potent antioxidant, aloe vera is said to boost immune function, reduce high blood pressure and aid digestion.
Aloe vera gel benefits for skin
Applied topically, the gel is purported to be outstanding for skin health. The high water content (99.5 per cent) means it’s very hydrating, soothing and cooling (that’s why it’s a common ingredient in after sun products). It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and can treat skin conditions including psoriasis, sunburn, acne, dry skin and frostbite. Furthermore, it makes a very effective make-up remover.
Drink to health
Aloe vera has a slightly bitter flavour so is not the most pleasant tasting plant. However, blended into a smoothie with other ingredients such as berries, coconut milk and green vegetables like cucumber and spinach, it provides a nutrient-rich super drink that will cleanse your system and benefit your skin.
Tip: When using fresh aloe vera leaves, allow them to drain before cutting out the gel-like flesh from skin. Stand the leaf in a glass leaving the cut end down. A yellow substance should leak out after a while. This is a latex found just beneath the skin and is what gives the aloe vera its bitter taste. It’s also a common ingredient in laxatives.
So whether you’re ingesting it or applying it to your skin, harvesting it from a plant or buying it in products, this natural plant ingredient will soothe, hydrate and repair stressed skin, for a newly radiant look.