Even the most careful of us can get sunburnt, and one of the most widely used methods to take the sting out of the burn is aloe. Known as the burn plant, the medicine plant, and even the plant of immortality, aloe cools while fighting inflammation and bacteria. It also softens and moisturises the skin, preventing peeling and scarring. Super-plant. But before you reach for the green stuff, there are a few things you need to know.
If you're using aloe products: Don't choose a product just because it has aloe on the label. Some aloe gels feature more water and alcohol than aloe, diluting its potent powers. Instead, read the ingredient list. Be sure that aloe is listed as the only ingredient, or as close to 100 percent as possible. Try Natures Sunshine Aloe Vera Gel ($22.95) Aubrey Organics Pure Aloe Vera Gel (approx $8). And don't forget to check the expiration date, as fresher aloe is best.
Keep reading . . .If you're getting your aloe directly from the plant: Even if you don't have a green thumb, aloe's resiliency makes it an easy plant to grow. It doesn't need much water and requires indirect light. Simply cut a leaf off of the plant and slice open. You can leave the peel on the skin directly or rub the juice right in, as aloe absorbs into the skin about four times faster than water. Refrigerate a few leaves before using to enhance the plant's cooling features.
Things to avoid: Oil-based products, which can seal in the heat that comes along with a burn. Also avoid alcohol-based products, which can sting and dry already-tender skin.