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Say 'hello' to aloe vera

Widely used in cosmetics, this wonderful plant has regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties.

31 AUGUST 2010

Perhaps you've already been introduced to this marvel of the plant world, in which case it will come as no surprise to hear that aloe vera is one of the star ingredients of many cosmetic products, and, indeed, there are whole product ranges based around it. The little natural wonder is no newcomer to the beauty stage, though: evidence suggests that it was already being used to care for and beautify the skin over 3,000 years ago.

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There are more than 300 species of the plant, but not all of them provide the gel we know as aloe vera – the wonder-working gel with a whole range of properties beneficial to both healthy and damaged skin.

  • Regeneration and anti-inflammation
    Natural aloe vera extract is excellent to soothe irritated or burnt skin as it has great regenerative and anti-inflammatory qualities. The secret is that it reaches deep into the skin because of its vitamin content – A, B1, B2, B6, B12 – plant sugars, glucomannan, pentose, hexose and galactose.
  • After-sun benefits
    Thanks to its calming effects, the plant is widely used in after-sun products and treatments for skin irritations. It also helps to destroy dead cells, regulates the pH of the skin and  eliminates toxins. On top of all this, it also has moisturising properties, which makes it effective for dry skins.
  • An ally against stretch marks
    A further area in which it aloe vera useful is in the battle against stretch marks, as it can help with prevention and concealment.
  • A friend to your hair
    Hair and skin are closely related, so maybe it's not surprising that your locks can benefit from this wonder plant: many shampoos include it to revitalise and add shine, strength, and flexibility.

These are just some of aloe vera's cosmetic properties, but there are also studies that suggest its medicinal properties make it effective against intestinal problems and inflammation of the eyes.

One final suggestion,
while there's still a little summer left: why not keep some aloe vera gel in the fridge ready to apply after you've been in the sun: your skin will feel cool, refreshed and moisturised.

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