One of the very best perks about growing Aloe vera 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 and store aloe vera leaves.
I’ve seen articles with titles like “40 ways to use aloe vera,” “20 ways to use aloe vera,” and so on. I have 7 ways I use it on a fairly regular basis. My Aloe vera pot will be ready for some serious harvesting in about 6 months but 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 or Whole Foods. Each large leaf lasts me about 2 weeks.
My newly repotted plants. I’ll have a bounty of Aloe vera in no time!
How to Cut Aloe Vera Leaves
I cut off a desired portion of the Aloe vera leaf, remove the “spiny” sides & then cut that chunk in half. For topical applications, I use it this way leaving the skin on. I rub it on as is or squeeze out the clear gel & juice. When put in smoothies, I cut it into chunks being careful not to scrape too close to the skin.
There’s a yellowish latex next to the skin which usually oozes out & I don’t use it. There are sources which say to avoid it so I do. Do a little research & make up your own mind on this 1. And, don’t consume the skin.
I just cut this leaf off of my plant. You can see the yellowish latex dripping out.
How to Use Aloe Vera Leaves
1) I use the leaves to tackle skin irritations.
If I have a skin irritation (rash, bug bite, etc) I rub the cut aloe vera leaf all over it. Because I store it in the fridge, the cool goo feels oh so good.
2) I rub it on my face & neck once or twice a week.
After 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) Once a month I’ll slather Aloe vera all over my hair & scalp making certain I get the ends good & saturated.
I’ll leave it in for an hour or so & sometimes overnight before shampooing it out. I have dry, fine hair & although this doesn’t make it soft & silky (let’s be real here!), it does make it feel a lot more moisturized.
4) I squeeze the gel out into a small bowl & mix it with clay to make a mask.
I leave it on for 10 – 30 minutes & then rinse off with cool to warm water. The clay is purifying & the aloe is moisturizing so it’s a great (& oh so cheap!) way to pamper your face & neck.
5) 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. Up until now, that is. The dry, hot desert has taken its toll. I love to wear sandals & 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 & juice all over my feet & then put on cotton socks. Not the most glamorous way to sleep but it does help.
6) The leaves can also do wonders for the puffy skin under your eyes!
Sometimes the eyes get puffy & 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) & put them in the freezer for 5 minutes or so. Just sit back, put your feet up & place the chunks under your eyes. 5 or so minutes of that refreshes the eye area & makes me feel all “depuffed”.
7) 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.
See how I cut, use & store Aloe vera leaves:
How to Store Aloe Vera Leaves (plus how long they stay fresh)
You want to keep your Aloe vera leaf as moist & 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 & then tie with another elastic band.
I’ve found that Aloe leaves stay fresh for about 2 weeks or so. Keeping them any longer than 3 weeks the leaves get a bit “funky, funky”. As with most everything, freshest is best.
If you’re going to use it up within 1-3 days, 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 & I like to reuse as much as I can.
What You Should Know About Aloe Vera Leaves
When you first cut off or into an Aloe vera leaf freshly cut 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 leaves you buy in the store don’t have this smell.
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 & put them in the freezer for 5 days. The results weren’t too good for me. The skin was mushy & the gel & juice were watery. I’ll stick with storing them in the fridge.
There’s that juicy gel oozing out that we all want.
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. How do you use Aloe vera?