It sure is heating up out there, yeah? I hope everyone is taking precautions* to keep your skin safe while frolicking in the sun! Despite caution, I am the first to know how easy it is to lose track of time and get burned when having fun outdoors. My Dutch-Irish decent means I am, essentially, translucent and will burn within 3.5 seconds outdoors if I'm not completely vigilant.
For post-sun care, before you go running off to the drug store to purchase "aloe vera gel" filled with who knows how many icky additives**, consider purchasing yourself an aloe vera plant instead. A bottle of "aloe vera gel" averages $7-10 at the market, whereas an aloe vera plant will set you back less than $5 at your nearest nursery; and, lets face it, the plant is way cooler to look at than the bottle! Aloe is hands-down the easiest houseplant to care for: just give it sunshine, well-drained soil, and only moderate water, and your aloe will thrive, rewarding you with an endless abundance of healing leaves!
Aloe is truly a remarkable healing agent for burns, both superficial and serious. Applied topically, the thick gel that oozes from the cut leaves is soothing and pain relieving, and it contains rich concentrations of anthraquinones, B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium, enzymes, and aloin, which promote rapid healing and tissue repair. A thick application of aloe vera gel not only soothes and cools a kitchen burn or really bad sunburn but also quickly reverses the blisters and prevents scarring and tissue damage. Some additional fun facts are that aloe contains a natural sunscreen that blocks 20-30% of ultraviolet rays, and that it perfectly matches the natural pH of our skin, making it a near-perfect skin tonic!
To prepare the gel: Cut a large, firm leaf from your aloe plant. Slice it open; it's best to do this on a plate, because as soon as you slice into aloe, it will begin to ooze its gel. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the inner gel. If you want a smooth gel (optional), puree it in a blender. Store the gel in a small bottle in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least several weeks.
To use: Apply the gel directly to a burn, wound, or skin irritation. It will feel cooling and soothing and will begin immediately to repair and heal damaged tissue. As the aloe dries, it will begin to pull and tighten the skin. This is part of the healing process, but if it becomes uncomfortable, gently rinse the aloe off. Repeat the application several times a day.
If this sounds too high-maintenance for you, you can also leave the gel in the leaf, cutting off only as much as you need for each application. Keep the leaf in a baggie to keep it fresh and to keep the gel from oozing out. Stored this way, the aloe leaf will remain fresh and active for several days or even weeks.
*SkIndulgence offers both a sunscreen lotion and a solid sun stick in the shop!
**The most common is typically alcohol so the gel will appear to soak into your skin faster - its not, btw, its just evaporating - which is actually incredibly harmful for a burn!