Before there were bath bombs and contouring palettes, there was aloe vera (rumor has it Cleopatra even used aloe as a skin treatment).
“Whether it was your parents telling you to rub some on a cut or you've noticed it used as an ingredient in your favorite skincare products, aloe vera is one of the more well-known ingredients because it has several beneficial purposes,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D.
And aloe's good for way more than just sunburns and scrapes.
Do razors leave your skin red and sensitive? “The enzymes in aloe vera provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent razor burn and address small cuts or nicks,” says Bhanusali.
Just apply pure aloe vera to a cotton ball, and gently swipe off your makeup. “It can be used to calm skin after a long day and sometimes in combination with other products,” Bhanusali says. “My favorite makeup remover with it is the Acure Seriously Soothing Micellar Water Towelettes. Aloe calms, and the micellar water acts as a magnet to remove debris, makeup, and pollutants from the skin.”
“Aloe penetrates the skin four times faster than water, making it a great hydrator," says Bhanusali.
Start slathering this stuff on if you have rosacea, acne, or sensitive skin. “Aloe is great as an anti-inflammatory and gives a hydrating, calming feeling,” Bhanusali says, noting that aloe works in three ways to reduce and prevent inflammation: “It prevents blood vessel dilation in irritated areas, produces pain-relieving salicylates as a byproduct, and inhibits the part of the immune response that triggers inflammation.”
If your flatiron got a little too close to your forehead or you had an incident in the kitchen, aloe vera is your friend. “It creates an environment that supports healing, and the anti-inflammatory mediators released promote resolution,” Bhanusali says.
6. It'll take the stink out of bug bites.
“Aloe vera is a great at-home remedy combined with OTC hydrocortisone for bug bites,” Bhanusali says. “It calms the inflamed area, and hydrocortisone stops the itch.”
“Your hair contains amino acids and enzymes, as does aloe,” says Chelsea Scott, founder of the haircare brand TRUHAIR. “So using it on hair allows you to put those nutrients back in that washing, styling, and the environment take out.”
Pick up an aloe vera leaf in the tropical fruits section of your local nursery (you can slice the leaf open and scoop out the gel inside), or buy aloe vera oil. Either way, use the liquid as a serum two to three times per week: Gently massage the gel directly into the scalp to boost circulation and stimulate hair follicles for better absorption. Let sit for an hour, then use a mild shampoo to wash out.