Sometimes it happens—you forget to put on sunscreen. I know, you’d think at this point in my life it’s routine. Yet, there are days I dash out the door and forget. As I get older I’ve noticed that my skin is more sensitive to sun exposure, even on days when I do wear sunscreen. When my skin is feeling tender from a day in the sun, I soothe it with an aloe spray.
Aloe Vera is a genus of over 500 succulent plants with a rosette of thick, fleshy leaves. Each leaf is full of a slimy tissue that stores water. This slimy, water-filled tissue is the “gel” where the healing properties of the plant lies. The gel contains a rich compound of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. Aloe Vera gel is widely used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry. It has many benefits including: antioxidant and antibacterial properties, accelerates the healing of burns, improves skin and reduces wrinkles, reduces constipation and heals mouth ulcers.
- 1/2 cup Aloe Vera gel
- 1 oz of vitamin e (optional)
- 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
- 1/4 cup witch hazel
- 5 tbs of water
- bowl and spoon
- spray bottle
For this recipe you can use fresh aloe pulp if you have it. If not, store bought pure aloe gel (such as this one) will suffice. Aloe Vera gel is well known for its ability to soothe topical pain from burns – and sunburn especially. It is also loaded with vitamins and minerals which accelerate skin cell regeneration to speed healing. (You can read all about the myriad health benefits of Aloe Vera gel in this article.)
I used vitamin E tablets I had in the cupboard. This ingredient is optional, but it can help with moisturizing skin, especially after sun damage. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which – like Aloe Vera gel – greatly improves skin’s ability to heal. Vitamin E may also help to prevent skin cancer which is known to result from frequent overexposure to damaging UV radiation. (You can purchase liquid vitamin E oil here.)
The witch hazel is also a beneficial ingredient to help to reduce pain and inflammation. Its anti-inflammatory power will also aid your skin in healing and it’s a perfect compliment to aloe. When purchasing witch hazel, be sure you are getting a high quality organic witch hazel (like this one). Many products – especially those found on the shelves in large chain retail stores may be labelled as witch hazel. However, most are actually diluted with isopropyl alcohol which will dry out your skin and slow down the healing process. (You can learn more about the amazing health benefits of witch hazel in this article.)
As far as essential oils go, the choice is yours. I added lemon purely for its smell. I wanted a bright citrus scent. You may use whatever scent you like, however. Peppermint oil with its cooling properties would be a good addition.
Add Vitamin E to Aloe
I used about 10 Vitamin E capsules. I pierced each capsule with a needle and squeezed the contents into the aloe gel. (It’s a bit messy, but I already had them lying around and couldn’t justify buying an entire bottle of Vitamin E oil just for this project.)
Add Essential Oil
As I mentioned earlier, the essential oil is used purely for scent. Since it’s warm out, I chose a citrus scent.
(Remember that citrus essential oils like lemon do increase skin’s sensitivity to UVA radiation for up to 36 hours after application. Not that you’ll want to go out and expose burned skin to more sunlight anyway. Just be careful!)
Add the Liquids
Add the witch hazel and water. Stir to combine. I switched to a fork at this point to help break up the gel. If it seems too thick, go ahead and add some water a tablespoon at a time. Pour it into your spray bottle. I did try to use a funnel for this step, but the mixture was still too thick. I ended up using a turkey baster! If you have a medicine syringe that will work too.
How to Use
You may think the mixture is too thick to spray, but fear not, it works. Spray the gel anywhere on your body that needs relief for sun damage. Keep the bottles in the refrigerator for an extra cooling treatment for a bad sunburn. The gel will completely absorb into the skin without any sticky residue.
Enjoy your time outdoors!
Want to enjoy your fun in the sun without all of the unpleasantness of sunburn? Check out the following three articles for the whole scoop on how to protect your skin from damaging UV rays!