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In the Caribbean, aloe vera is a common plant that can be found in many backyards. Aloe vera has been used for centuries and is and becomes more popular every day due to its plethora of uses. Those uses include food, cosmetics and herbal remedies.

It is cultivated worldwide, primarily as a crop for Aloe gel, which comes from the leaf.

The green thorny cactus-like plant is known for its bitter flesh, which is where the gel is found but don’t let the taste deter you from the wonders it can do for your skin.

Its natural anti-fungal properties prevent infections, expedite healing and soothe inflammation on the skin, while its astringent properties prevent sebum production and the gathering of dirt, disallowing an environment for acnes to breed in the first place.

Here are some of the ways aloe vera brings the best out of your skin.

Adds moisture

Because aloe vera gel is mostly water, it helps to hydrate the skin without that post-application greasy sensation. It helps lock moisture into the skin, while also acting as a glue that makes the top layer of skin cells stick together, ultimately smoothing and softening your skin.

Fights acne

Besides having serious antibacterial skills, aloe vera gel contains salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant that helps to unclog pores, making it especially helpful if you deal with pimples and blackheads. Bonus: It also acts as an anti-inflammatory on the oil glands

Slows signs of aging

Aloe stimulates fibroblast activity, which increases collagen production and elastin fibers that make the skin less wrinkled and more elastic. Meanwhile, zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores, and antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help prevent the formation of free radicals meaning molecules that can do a number on your cells.

Prevents and sometimes fade dark spots

Aloe vera gel prevents tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for skin discoloration, from doing its thing, essentially suppressing UV-induced hyperpigmentation and the skin-damaging effects of sunburns. This mechanism may also help in the prevention of dark spots, while the various antioxidants it contains such as glutathione peroxide may fade sun damage that’s already formed.

It’s a light exfoliate

The salicylic acid aloe vera contains acts as an exfoliator, helping to gently slough off dead skin cells, says Dr. Mark. It also contains lignin, a substance which can enhance the penetrative effect of other ingredients into the skin.

Soothes sunburn

Aloe vera gel contains compounds called polysaccharides that encourage skin repair and new skin cells. The gel also contains a pain reliever called carboxypeptidase, which may be why aloe vera is so soothing.

Relieves skin irritation                                                       

Inflammation underlies many skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and lichen planus, according to statements made by Jennifer Gordon, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas. Aloe vera gel contains compounds, such as acemannan, that suppress inflammation by controlling the enzymes that trigger it. Persons are advised to make sure to do a patch test before putting it on inflamed skin, as aloe vera can cause allergic contact dermatitis in some people.

To make the power of aloe vera even more effective research shows that it can be combined with other simple, natural ingredients that will help to give you better, brighter skin. Here are simple combinations.

Aloe vera and lemon mask

These two ingredients make a perfect team to eliminate acne thanks to the antibacterial properties of aloe vera and lemon.

In a bowl mix a few tablespoons of aloe vera with the juice of a lemon. Mix until the two ingredients are united and apply it on the skin of the face, affecting the spots and scars. Leave on for 15 minutes and then remove the mixture with warm water.

Aloe vera and honey mask

In a bowl mix a spoonful of honey with an aloe vera. Mix everything until there is a homogeneous mass and apply it all over the face. Leave on for 15 or 20 minutes and then remove the mask with warm water.

Aloe vera, milk, honey and turmeric mask

In a small bowl add a spoonful of aloe vera gel, a spoonful of milk, a spoonful of honey and a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Mix all the ingredients until there is a homogeneous mass. Apply on the previously washed face for 20 minutes, then remove the mask with warm water.

Aloe vera toner

In a pot boil some water and add some pieces of aloe vera, previously cut from the plant. Let it boil for about 15 or 20 minutes and then remove the pot from the heat to cool the mixture. Strain the water with aloe vera and put the liquid in a bottle with diffuser to use whenever you want as a tonic to clean or refresh the face.