Like a lot of people growing up, I got sunburns pretty regularly as a kid. That’s what happens when you’re pale and you burn much more easily than you tan. But I learned early on to appreciate it the year my mother bought an aloe vera plant.
Aloe vera is a succulent. It’s pretty easy to grow and very useful. You can grow it indoors on the windowsill or outside in a pot or on the ground. It likes sandy soil, like many succulents. If you get frost, keep it indoors.
Any time you scrape or burn yourself it can help. And of course it helps delightfully with sunburn.
All you have to do is snip off one of the leaves and break it open. The gel on the inside is truly marvelous. It cools the burn or scrape quickly.
It can be a bit challenging getting the gel out. You can cut the leaves open and just rub directly on your skin, but the plant has some small spikes along the edges that may scratch you. Not badly if you’re using it gently, though. If using fresh leaves, avoid the yellow part inside the leaves. This can be irritating to the skin.
I like to recommend the plant over the commercially prepared aloe vera gels for a few reasons. The first is that I’ve always had the best luck with the gel straight from the plant. The effect just seems to be stronger to me. That could, of course, just be an illusion, but it is what I believe.
I also like that if you treat it right, you can just keep the plant growing, rather than having to buy new bottles all the time. It saves some waste.
And of course, if you use it straight from the plant you know exactly what you are getting. No worries about the other ingredients added to the stuff in the bottle labeled “aloe vera”.
Some people also take aloe vera internally from prepared capsules. There are a variety of claimed benefits to this. I’ve never tried it myself and so cannot speak from experience.
For me, the cooling effect this has on sunburn is the big reason I like to make sure to have a plant on hand during the summer. I always hope to not need it, but when a burn happens to myself or someone in my family, it’s nice to have a way to relieve the discomfort.