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An aloe vera plant in a pot.

Aloe-vera gel is perhaps best known as a sunburn treatment, but the plant offers a host of other benefits. A succulent, it stores moisture in its leaves in the form of a gel that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a popular choice for home remedies.

To harvest gel from your plant, slice off an outer leaf near the base and place it upright in a clean jar to let the yellow resin drain out. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the green portion of the leaf to reveal the gel, then scoop it into the jar and use within a week. You can also choose a store-bought gel, but opt for an organic product containing at least 99 percent aloe vera to avoid excessive additives and dyes.

Before applying aloe topically, consider testing it on a small patch of skin to check for a negative reaction.

1. Heals cuts and burns.

Because of its anti-inflammatory compounds, aloe may soothe cuts, burns, bug bites, and other minor topical irritations. Simply dab a bit on the affected area for some relief.

2. Moisturizes skin.

Aloe-vera gel contains vitamin E and vitamin C, which are both commonly used in skincare products for their nourishing and protective antioxidant properties. Apply as you would other moisturizers.

3. Boosts digestion.

Aloe is also an effective laxative, and its antibacterial properties may inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in your digestive tract. Add 1/4 cup aloe-vera gel to your favorite smoothie recipe to reap these benefits.

4. Removes makeup.

Its moisturizing merits and thicker consistency make aloe a good natural makeup remover. Apply the gel and use a cotton pad to wipe it away; repeat as necessary.

This article originally appeared in Experience LifeLife Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

Kaelyn Riley

Kaelyn Riley is an Experience Life associate editor.

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