One of the very best perks about growing Aloe vera plants is those plump leaves full of gel and juice which you get to harvest. I’ve been growing this medicinal plant for years and love that it not only looks good (especially when planted in a terra cotta pot) but has so many fabulous properties. Today, I’m sharing with you all the details on how I use, cut, and store Aloe vera leaves.
My Aloe Vera Pot (which you see below) will be ready for some serious harvesting in about 6 months. Right now I’m buying large, single leaves which you can find in the produce section at Natural Grocer’s, an international market, a Mexican market, Whole Foods, etc. Each large leaf costs around $2.00 and lasts me about 2 weeks.
They grow fine a bit tight in their pots but mine really needs a bigger one soon. I’ll have to solicit some help for this repotting job!
Table of Contents
How to Cut Aloe Vera Leaves
I cut off a desired Aloe Vera leaf with a sharp knife and then remove the “spiny” sides. For the aesthetics of the plant, I cut the leaf off as close to the base of the plant as I can. If you partially cut a leaf, it’ll scar over resulting in an unnatural and unattractive look.
I leave the leaf whole to store it. This way I only have to cover one cut end to keep it as fresh as possible. I cut off portions as needed that way I don’t waste any of that good Aloe vera gel.
For topical applications, I use it leaving the skin on. I rub it on as is or squeeze out the clear gel and juice. When put in smoothies, I prefer to take the skin off. I cut the flesh into chunks being careful not to scrape too close to the skin.
There’s a yellowish latex next to the skin of the leaf that usually oozes out and I don’t use it. There are sources that say to avoid it so I do. Do a little research and make up your own mind on this one. There are also mixed reports on consuming the skin also so you can decide what’s best.
I just cut this Aloe leaf off of my plant. You can see the yellowish latex dripping out of the fleshy leaves.
Aloe Vera Guides you’ll find helpful: How To Care For An Aloe Vera Plant, Growing Aloe Vera Indoors, Planting Aloe Vera In Pots + The Soil Mix To Use, Aloe Vera Propagation: Removing Aloe Vera Pups, Aloe Vera Pups Planting & Care Tips, and Aloe Vera 101
Best Ways to Use Aloe Vera Leaves
1) Tackle Skin Irritations
If I have any skin irritation (rash, bug bites, sunburn, etc) I rub the cut Aloe vera leaf all over it. Because I store it in the fridge, the cool goo that oozes from the thick leaves feels oh so good.
2) Apply Gel to Face and Neck
After I apply the gel and it dries a bit, I put moisturizer or oil over that followed by sunscreen. Always sunscreen on my face – I live in the Arizona desert after all!
3) Appl Gel to Hair and Scalp
Once a month I’ll slather Aloe vera all over my hair and scalp making certain I get the ends good and saturated.
I’ll leave it in for an hour or so and sometimes overnight before shampooing it out. I have dry, fine hair and although this doesn’t make it soft and silky (let’s be real here!), it does make it feel a lot more moisturized.
4) Create a Face Mask
I squeeze the gel out into a small bowl and mix it with clay to make a mask.
I leave it on for 10 – 30 minutes and then rinse off with cool to warm water. The clay is purifying and the Aloe is moisturizing so it’s a great (and oh so cheap!) way to pamper your face and neck.
The jar of clay lasts me 2 years and my Aloe vera produces leaves like crazy making this a very cheap beauty hack.
5) Apply Gel to Feet
I rub the Aloe Vera leaves on the heels of my feet too.
I’ve never paid too much attention to ugly cracked heels because I’ve never had them before moving to the desert. Up until now, that is. The dry, hot desert has taken its toll. I love to wear sandals and go barefoot almost all year long. After 2 years of shoeless life here, the cracked heels set in. Oh boy, are they painful!
Just before hitting the hay, I plaster on the Aloe vera gel and juice all over my feet and then put on thin cotton socks. Not the most glamorous way to sleep but it does help.
6) Reduce Puffiness Under the Eyes
The leaves can also do wonders for the puffy skin under your eyes.
Sometimes the eyes get puffy and sore whether it’s due to allergies, the wind, not enough sleep, or a wee too much beer. I cut a couple of pieces of Aloe (leaving the skin on) and put them in the freezer for 5 minutes or so.
Then I just sit back, put my feet up and place the chunks under my eyes. 5 or so minutes of that refreshes the eye area and makes me feel all “depuffed”. It feels oh so delightful in June when the temps are hitting the 100F mark!
7) Add Aloe Vera Gel to a Smoothie
When the mood strikes, I’ll throw a few chunks of the gel in my smoothie before blending. It’s very hydrating, especially in the summer.
There are varying opinions on how much fresh gel to consume on a regular basis, so I don’t consume it very often.
Cutting, Using & Storing Aloe Vera Leaves Video Guide
How to Store Aloe Vera Leaves
You want to keep your Aloe vera leaf as moist and fresh as possible. What I do is simple: wrap the cut end in tin foil, tie it with an elastic band, put it in a large plastic shopping bag, wrap that tightly and then tie it with another elastic band.
I put the leaf in the refrigerator and cut off pieces of the leaf as needed, each time wrapping the end.
I’ve found that cut Aloe leaves stay fresh for about 2 weeks or so in the refrigerator. Keeping them any longer than 3 weeks will cause the leaves to get a bit “funky, funky”. As with most everything, freshest is best.
If you’re going to use the leaf up within 1-3 days, you can leave it out on the counter (if the temps aren’t too warm). You could also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap but I don’t have any. A large shopping bag works just fine and I like to reuse it as much as I can.
You could cut the leaf up into usable portions and store it in a glass container with a tight lid. You might find this to be a better way to store and use it. I’ve always stored it with success the foil/bag way since I first used a leaf. We’re creatures of habit after all!
What You Should Know About Aloe Vera Leaves
When you first cut off or into an Aloe vera leaf fresh from the plant, the odor given off can be a bit pungent. Don’t worry it’s just the nature of this useful beast – there’s nothing wrong with it. It’ll eventually go away. I’ve found that Aloe leaves you buy in the store don’t have this “funky” smell because they’ve traveled and aged a bit.
Once you’ve rubbed the gel on your chosen body part, you can use your fingernails to poke out a bit more of the juice (you’ll see this in the video). Good to get every last drop I say!
As an experiment, I cut a couple of pieces of Aloe vera, wrapped them tightly in foil, and put them in the freezer for 5 days. The results weren’t too good for me. The skin was mushy and the gel and juice were watery. I’ll stick with storing them in the fridge.
I love the way Aloe vera looks growing as a houseplant or in the garden. But I especially love its wonderful properties and how healing and soothing it is. Time for you to give an Aloe vera leaf a try!
Update: I originally wrote this post at the end of November 2018 and updated it in early March 2022. I’ve since moved to a new home and the Aloe Vera plant you see below has grown and the pups have produced pups.
Gardening guides for your reference:
- Indoor Succulent Care Basics
- How To Sharpen & Clean Garden Shears
- A Beginner’s Guide to Repotting Plants
- How Much Sun Do Succulents Need?
- How Often Should You Water Succulents?
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Nell, the founder of Joy Us garden, was born into a gardening family and grew up in Connecticut’s countryside. After living in Boston, New York, San Francisco, & Santa Barbara, she now calls the Arizona desert home. She studied horticulture & garden design, working in the field all her life. Nell is a gardener, designer, blogger, Youtube creator, & author. She’s been gardening for a very long time & wants to share what she’s learned with you.