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Aloe | Tanning and Using Aloe | Aloe for Suntans

For centuries, the Aloe Vera herb has been used for medicinal purposes. The thick gel inside the plant has been used for a multitude of applications such as skin care, helping heal wounds, blemishes, rashes, and eczema, as well as relieving itching from stings, bites, dandruff and poison ivy. Pets are also able to benefit from aloe’s healing properties. Aloe Vera means “true aloe” and is a non-toxic, odorless skin protector that is non-greasy and allows the skin to breathe and perspire normally. Aloe contains nutrients, vitamins, active compounds, essential minerals and amino acids that reduce inflammation. Fresh aloe gel not only soothes pain, cools the skin, and stimulates blood flow to burns, sunburns, red painful skin and blisters, but also encourages healing to occur between tissue cells. While the most commonly known species of aloe plant is Aloe Vera, there are over 250 different aloe species in the world, mostly native to Africa. To date, research conducted on the outer skin of the plant has yielded no discernible benefits.


Aloe plants prefer to be grown outdoors in indirect sunlight where there is little chance of a freeze. They can also be grown indoors if they receive enough light and are potted correctly. Outdoor plants will tend to flourish more than indoor plants. Young aloe plants are potent enough to use for first aid treatments, but mature plants will yield stronger potency as strength increases with the plant’s age. Some of the older plants may even bloom, producing brightly-colored coral flowers on a tall stalk – the nectar of which is a favorite to hummingbirds! When planting, make sure to use well-drained sandy potting soil – a good quality commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, and/or coarse sand added. A wide pot is better to use because aloe plants have shallow root systems. Make sure the soil is fairly dry before watering and lightly water during the winter months.


Here are some things to watch out for if growing your own aloe plant:


If the leaves lie flat instead of upright – the plant needs more light.

If the leaves are thin and curled – the plant is not getting enough water.

If the leaves are brown – the plant is getting too much direct sunlight.

If the plant is very slow-growing – Your soil or water has high alkaline content, the soil is too damp for too long (not enough light), or the plant is over-fertilized.


Harvest leaves as needed, the plant will quickly seal and heal itself. The leaf will not grow back. Choose one closest to the ground as they are the most mature and most potent. Use a sharp knife when removing a leaf, trimming the thorny edges and slicing across its width. The inner gooey gel is ready to apply directly to the afflicted area. Scratch the surface of the leaf’s cut edge with a clean knife to release more juice. Wrap partially-used leaves in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to several days.


Aloe vera leaves when cut exude two fluids, with differing effects and properties. The yellow/green sap predominantly exuded wherever the green surface of the leaf is cut is an irritant. This contains the latex-like compound, aloin. On the other hand, the transparent fluid exuded by the inner leaf wherever it is cut or crushed, is soothing and said to promote healing.


For successful use of the plant, it is important to ensure that any use employs the appropriate part or parts to suit the purpose.


It is also important to understand and look for this distinction in evaluating any attempt at scientific study of the plant's medical properties. Any study which does not specify which parts of the plant were used, is likely to confuse the issue, rather than to clarify. Any product which does not distinguish these may contain a mixture of both, and therefore would be likely to have compromised usefulness for most purposes where aloe vera is commonly used.


Very important – never put butter or vegetable oils on a burn, this just keeps the heat in. Herbal oils can help prevent scarring and help moisturize as the skin begins to heal, but don't use them as an emergency measure.


When going to the beach or just about anywhere for fun in the sun, just remember to pack your aloe vera along with all your sun tan lotions, hats, sunglasses and protective clothing. And if you are going skiing, it is definitely wise to use moisturizer and some aloe vera. There are many types of suntan aloe vera brands to use. We recommend more organic and natural products.


-Ms. Suntan

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