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Natural Beauty - Aloe Vera

Feature Story XpBonaire IslandLife

Aloe vera is a common household plant on Bonaire and is known for its healing properties. Regularly applying a small amount of aloe vera to the face can help treat various skin conditions including acne, eczema and sunburn as well as simply helping to moisturize your skin.

You can use the gel directly from an aloe vera plant or buy a bottled variety being sure to check the ingredients list!

There are 420 different plant species of aloe. Most aloe-based products contain gel from the Aloe Barbadensis Miller plant that grows on Bonaire. Its leaves produce a gel that is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and B12.

Using aloe vera on the face has benefits:

- its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce pain, swelling, and soreness of wounds or injuries

- it supports the production and release of collagen

- it can speed up wound healing time and limits scarring

- it reduces the healing time of first-degree and second-degree burns

- it is effective in treating fungal and bacterial infections

- it has an antioxidant effect that can help repair sun damage and slow down the aging process of the skin

- it protects the skin from the damaging effects of radiation therapy

- it contains 98% water, which helps moisturize, soothe, and hydrate the skin

- It has a cooling effect on rashes or sunburns

What conditions it can treat

People have used aloe vera for centuries as a treatment for various types of skin disorders and injuries. Some of these conditions include:

- acne

- sunburn pain and swelling

- minor burns

- cuts or skin wounds

- fungal infections, such as ringworm and tinea versicolor

- eczema (atopic dermatitis)

- rosacea

- sun or chemically damaged skin/wrinkles

- bug bites

How to use

When buying an aloe vera product, avoid products with added ingredients such as alcohol or other chemicals. These can have harmful effects on the skin.

The easiest way for a person to obtain fresh aloe vera gel is to keep a plant in your garden. Aloe vera plants can be found all over the island or at a garden center.

Follow these steps:

- use a sharp knife to cut off a leaf from the plant, as near to the root as possible

- rinse the leaf and lightly pat dry

- cut off the narrow-pointed end from the top of the leaf

- cut the “spines” off both sides of the plant as close to the edge as possible

- lay the leaf flat and slice it down the center from tip to tip, or for bigger leaves, cut the outer green layer off

- gently scoop out the gel using a spoon or knife blade — very large aloe leaves may contain solid blocks of gel

- wash the gel carefully to clean it of any residue and the brown juice

- place the gel in a sealable container and refrigerate before use

- store the container of gel in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze the aloe vera gel in ice cube trays

NOTE: Always do an allergy patch test before applying aloe vera to the face. Apply a small amount of gel to the inside of the wrist to check for a reaction. Wait 24 hours. If the skin starts to itch, swell, or change color do not apply aloe vera to the face.

Two common skin uses:

For sunburn

Apply chilled aloe vera gel two or three times a day to the sunburned area. Use for several days, or until the skin color has returned to normal and inflammation has improved.

Alternatively, mix 2 parts water to 1 part aloe vera to make a spray. Keep the solution in the refrigerator.

Moisturizing, calming & cooling skin toner/spray

To make an aloe vera skin toner, mix 2 parts water with 1 part aloe vera gel. Pour into a clean airtight bottle and store it in the refrigerator. Shake well before applying the toner to the face with a cotton ball or spray- mist your face depending on your bottle choice. When using the spray, avoid the eyes.

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