Make your own aloe vera gel from fresh leaves and use it in your beauty and skin care products. Aloe vera gel is natural and a powerhouse for skin care!
The kids and I recently took a homeschool trip out to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona just a week ago. While we were waiting for the Prickly Pear tour to start, we were perusing all of the desert plants.
There was chaparral, prickly pear, ocotillo, aloe vera, and more. I told my kids that the aloe vera plant is a wonderful way to support healthy skin, and they seemed intrigued that you could harvest and squeeze the aloe vera out to use in various DIYs.
We brought home a few aloe vera plants, and just a few days later, we stopped in at the grocery store to pick up some flour for baking. One of my boys screamed with excitement when he found “aloe” leaves there in the produce section and so we brought a few home to use in soap (and a homeschool lesson!)
How is Aloe Vera Gel Used?
Aloe Vera plants are so easy to grow and maintain – even if you have a brown thumb. Having them readily available gives you the opportunity to use fresh aloe vera gel when needed.
Aloe is great for supporting skin – it soothes pain, reduces inflammation from minor burns, but also works well in the following areas:
- Anti-inflammatory and cooling properties make it wonderful for sunburn relief
- Aloe is rich in antioxidants and minerals that can speed healing
- Aloe vera can be used to aid in chronic skin problems – psoriasis, eczema and even acne
- Lavender Body Wash
- Homemade Foaming Body Wash
- Foaming Hand Soap
- Peppermint and Rosemary Cooling Foot Cream
- Cooling After Sun Spray
- Foaming Shave Cream
- Hand Sanitizer
- Homemade Hair Gel
You can also use aloe vera internally – it helps support digestion and provides your body valuable vitamins and minerals.
Where to Find Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants are easy to grow and maintain at home, in fact, they are similar to the cactus plant. You’ll need well drained, sandy soil with minimal watering.
If you aren’t up for caring for one at home, sometimes you can find cut aloe vera at the grocery store in the produce section. Not all grocers will have aloe vera leaves available, so you may have to check around.
How to Harvest Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera leaves are very long, and slightly curved at the end. The edges are very sharp, but the flesh inside the upper and lower leaves is very thick.
- aloe vera leaf
- food processor
- air tight container or mason jar
- sharp knife
- cutting board
Cut the end of the leaf (open end, not pointy tip) about 1/2 inch. Then cut the leaf into 6 inch sections to make it easier on yourself.
Place your knife just inside the edge of the skin. , and move that knife down the edge to the end of the leaf.
Repeat that on the other edge of the leaf.
Carefully pull apart the top from bottom. You’ll have gel on each side. Carefully slide your knife to get that flesh off of each side, and put in a clean bowl.
Repeat for each section, slicing off the aloe vera and placing in the bowl.
Take the contents of the bowl and place in the food processor. Blend until smooth. It will smooth – it will froth at first, and that is OK. Keep blending until it’s completely pureed.
Pour into your container, and allow the froth to go down, then tightly cover and refrigerate.
If you don’t plan on using that aloe within a day, it’s best to place in the refrigerator.
What color is Aloe Vera Gel?
Natural aloe vera gel ranges in color from clear to slightly yellow. Commercial aloe vera gel is often times green as they have commercial dyes added.
(*You’ll want to look at the ingredients for RD BLUE and RD YELLOW, as combined, they result in a “green” tint to the gel).
Aloe vera gel tends to oxidize quickly once it is exposed to air (as you cut), therefore the gel is likely to turn clear to pink to red in a matter of minutes — much like ours did above. Aloe vera plants that are exposed to a high level of sun or are grown in poor soil can result in red aloe vera gel.
However, it has also been shown that certain nutrients change color as they convert from one form too another. In this case, vitamin B12 (pink/red) may indeed be greater in this aloe vera gel, though it hasn’t been extensively studied.
It is always best to cut and harvest aloe vera on an as-needed basis, as it is not suitable for long term refrigeration. If doing things on an as-needed basis is not possible, consider harvesting and freezing until needed.