I never really understood what was so great about the aloe vera (‘allo Vera!) plant. I’d   seen it mentioned as a key ingredient in so many skin creams and gels and sprays but that was about it.

Back in 2002 I got a lot a bit sunburned and my mother-in-law put me onto using her actual aloe vera plant from her backyard. Sounds gross, I know. But you know how painful sunburn can be, right? When you’ll try anything once if it means it could help?

This is The Thing that helps. A lot.

(While I’m at it, some sunburn treatment advice; never ever ever have a steaming hot shower. Those tales of the hot water pulling the heat out from within your skin is rubbish. I followed this theory on good authority with this big sunburn I had in 2002 and the next day I couldn’t even open my eyes and took 3 days off work. I’ve since quizzed Doctors and St John Ambulance officers and they flat-out said that hot showers are the worst thing for sunburn. I beg you to never pass that old wive’s tale on, as someone who suffered a lot of pain as a result!)

Ahem anyway…!

So if you have an aloe vera plant, (and if you don’t, then go get one!) when you need to cool your sunburn, just cut off a frond or whatever-you-call-it and cut it open and go to town with rubbing it over your skin. You’ll feel the difference straight away.

I’m more of a visual learner, so I have some snaps that will help demonstrate how aloe vera can help you. Kudos to Dan my hand model and chief frond-chopper for my current bout of sunburn (yes, I regularly forget to take sunscreen out with me).

Here is my backyard aloe vera plant – not a very pretty specimen, but is still alive, which is one better than a lot of my plants:


Here is a frond we prepared earlier – cut from the plant a day earlier, the unused part is fine to be kept in the fridge for a day or two:


So all you need to do is cut a length off the frond, say, about 2-3cm:


Then cut lengthways, about half deep into the frond off-cut:


From the centre, cut each way to the outside edge of the frond, but not all the way:


Then you just pull the frond open and voila! Your new skincare solution:


Now you’re free to rub the flesh over your sunburned skin. You can continue this multiple times a day until your sunburn has calmed down, the number of days depending on how sunburned you are.

You don’t have to wash your skin afterwards, but perhaps if you’re going out in public you might like to remove your funky green tinge ;)

Looking online, there are a million-and-one sites sprouting aloe vera for anything from skin abrasions to liver cleansing. I’m not desperate enough to drink aloe vera just yet, but if aloe’s effect on my sunburn is anything to go by, then anything could be possible!

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5 thoughts on “How-to guide: Aloe Vera for sunburn and other skin problems

  1. I love my Aloe Vera plant. I have a massive one in my front garden. I do advise against drinking aloe vera juice though. I was given a big bottle of the stuff about 8 years ago as a supposed cure for my IBS. It is the foulest stuff I have ever tasted. It also did squat for my IBS.

    Riayn\’s last blog post..Putting A Price On Love

    Posted on 12 March 2009 at 10:18 am
  2. I have a whole plethora of aloe plants in my backyard. Great for anything burny or itchy.

    Mistress B\’s last blog post..well that just freakin sucks

    Posted on 12 March 2009 at 10:46 am
  3. Aloe is the best, I burn in like 10 mins even with sunscreen and a fresh leaf of aloe vera turns me from lobster red to not peeling.

    MammaBug\’s last blog post..BIA: Last Chance Harvey

    Posted on 12 March 2009 at 10:04 pm
  4. I had a huge nasty burn from spilling a cup of freshly boiled black tea down my front. Brad whipped out his equipment and sliced up some aloe to put on it. The relief was instant and it saved me from having to go to the hospital. He strapped it to the area as I couldnt stand the pain when I removed it.

    I was instantly converted to the wonderd of aloe.

    GoaldeeBug\’s last blog post..Avenue Q

    Posted on 14 March 2009 at 10:22 am
  5. Just about the only plant I took with me when I moved……it is big, ugly and prickly but I wouldn’t be without it.

    Posted on 7 September 2009 at 8:54 am