How to Preserve and Use Aloe Vera Gel as Natural Skin Care
How to prepare fresh aloe vera gel from aloe vera plant (for topical applications)?
- Harvest a whole leaf from the aloe vera plant (pluck with hands and make sure that the aloe gel well sealed in the leaf and not exposed to air – this can keep the aloe gel fresh longer this way)
- Remove the skin from the leaf and rinse the aloe gel with clean water to get rid of the yellow substance from the leaf which can irritates the skin
- Squeeze the gel from the aloe gel pulp or blend it in a blender
- Store appropriately or use immediately
How to preserve the aloe vera gel then?
After much research, I read somewhere that Forever Living patented the method to stabilize the aloe vera gel. Their large scale of production and heavy machinery is not something we can afford at home. But there are some workarounds though may not be as effective, but sufficient for own use:-
- Add citric acid or citrus juice (such as lemon juice) to the aloe gel
- Adding vitamin E oil to the aloe gel
- Freeze the aloe gel
- Keep aloe gel in vacuum pack/ air-tight container and store in fridge or freezer
- Preserve/ use the fresh aloe gel within 1-2 hours after harvesting from the plant (harvest the leaf in whole to keep the gel within the skin until you’re ready to use or preserve it)
All the above methods are meant to prevent/ slow down oxidation of aloe vera gel. Aloe vera gel shows signs of oxidation when it is starting to turn pink or brownish.
Depending on how long you wish to store the fresh aloe gel, you may not need to do all the above methods. I kept freshly harvested aloe gel (skinned, juiced and stored in air-tight lotion pump container) without any additives in the fridge and the aloe gel lasted 2 weeks before turning pink.
I'm using the aloe vera gel as a natural toner and it really helps with the acne by the way! Because it is meant for use on the face (I have acne prone skin and often go outdoor for gardening), I do not use citrus juice (make skin photosensitive) or any other additives. I make a small quantity that I can finish in a week to reduce the risk of germs growing
When frozen to cubes (without additives) then kept in air-tight container, the aloe gel stay green for a long time (I never kept them more than a month so I can’t really say how long it can last without showing signs of oxidation – at least a month though).
How to use the aloe vera gel as natural skin care?
Aloe vera gel helps:-
- reduce dandruff
- promote healing of minor wounds and burns
- soothe sunburn and dry skin
Aloe vera gel can be used as it is on hair, face and body as:-
- skin/ facial toner (pour 1tsp on palm and pat lightly on face or skin)
- hair/ face/ lips/ body skin hydrating mist (filter the juiced aloe gel into a mist spray bottle and spray on hair, face or body to hydrate)
- hair mask (apply about aloe gel onto the hair while massaging the scalp and rinse off)
- face/ body mask (leave on face/ body for 15 minutes and rinse off if necessary. Also works well with other ingredients such as cucumber for a cooling and hydrating effect)
If you are into soapmaking, aloe vera gel makes great water substitute in soap recipes. When used in making soap, it is believed that some of the properties of the aloe vera gel might be lost during the harsh process of soapmaking but some of the healing properties are well preserved in the soap instead – therefore it is still capable of making a great Aloe Bar.
The skin felt more hydrated when using the Aloe Bar soap which is made with aloe vera gel as compared to using soap with the same recipe but made with just distilled water. Stay tuned for the Aloe Bar Soap making recipe!
How to choose aloe vera gel?
The best and freshest aloe vera gel you can get is...from your garden! If you do not have an aloe vera plant, grow one today - doesn't take much space (a pot is good enough) and it is easy to grow as long as it gets lots of sun.
If you must purchase aloe vera gel, you have options of fresh ones in the supermarket, bottled ones in the personal care section, consumable ones in the health food section or organic food section. There are lots of commercial aloe vera gel available in the market since aloe vera is a highly marketed item in health, beauty and personal care.
When purchasing bottled aloe vera gel (for external use), I realized there are some products with misleading label saying "Aloe Vera 100% Gel". Looking at the content, it seems that the label actually meant 100% synthetic gel with aloe vera extracts added. This type of "aloe vera gel" may not be suitable for homemade products (at least it can't be used to make soap) but still it is safe on the skin. So, read the labels before you decide to purchase.
These are some of my favorites (recommended by their customers).