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Grow Your Own Skincare Products
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
Advantages: renewable, natural
Disadvantages: plants not widely available
Aloe Vera has been known for its medicinal properties for hundreds of years. If you go to a health food shop they will charge you a small fortune for tiny bottles of aloe vera juice or creams but you can grow your own plant at home giving you a ready supply of fresh leaves which you can harvest and peel and you can either eat the peeled leaf or use the sap to apply to the skin.
Aloe Vera plants don't seem to be very widely available, I bought mine from a garden centre for £3 a couple of years ago. The plant is part of the cactus family so almost impossible to kill with neglect, in fact my aloe vera plant is the only plant which has survived in my house.
The plant is not the most attractive out there, it looks like a series of green spikes sticking up from the soil, unlike most cactus plants it is not jaggy but smooth leaved. I keep my plant on top of my fridge where it has plenty of light and it doesn't get too cold in the winter as frost can kill the plant as it has such a high water content. I put it outside in the summer and it seems to thrive even in Scottish summertime with a bit of fresh air. I water the plant when I remember which is not very often which is a good thing as it likes to dry out completely between waterings. When my plant was looking like it was dying I gave it some baby bio plant food and it perked up and came back to life. I have repotted the plant once and it needs doing again, it reproduces by shooting off babies from the side of the plant which uproot themselves and can be repotted.
To benefit from the medicinal properties of the aloe vera plant you carefully remove one of the succulent leaves by pulling it gently and snapping off near to the base. I did try to eat the stems but they taste like watered down cucumber and have a really horrible jelly like texture. I have heard that eating the stems is beneficial for those with some inflammatory bowel complaints and ulcers but as I do not suffer from any of those I can't comment from my own experience.
The most common use of aloe vera plants is to apply the sap to the skin. To do this you harvest one of the leaves and I find rolling it gently between my fingers releases the gel more easily. Each leaf only gives you a couple of ml of gel but this is plenty to apply to the face. The gel is a very pale colour and smells something between a cucumber and spring onion and spreads easily over the skin and is absorbed easily. The gel is extremely moisturising so would make a suitable facial moisturiser for those with very sensitive skin. I have used the gel on small burns as it is commonly a plant kept in kitchens for its soothing properties but to be honest I didn't find it very effective and prefer to use witch hazel. The gel is meant to be beneficial for those with psoriasis and other dry skin conditions, I don't suffer from these but do have dry sensitive skin and my skin has always reacted well to an application of aloe vera gel.
Aloe vera is beneficial to most people but should not be used by pregnant women as it can cause contractions, it is also toxic to cats so the plant should be kept out of their reach.
The best part about owning an aloe vera plant is that it renews itself after use, if you wanted to use a lot of the gel then you would need several plants but for the initial investment of only a couple of pounds for a plant and minimal ongoing maintenance you can be growing your own skincare products for a fraction of the price you would spend in the shops.
Summary: a natural remedy
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