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This Succulent Does Not Suck

Many Uses of Aloe

Back in the 80s, my mom kept an aloe plant on the kitchen windowsill. When she burned herself on the stove, she’d lop off part of an aloe leaf, rip it open, and use the cool gelatinous innards as a soothing balm.

What could be better? A decorative houseplant providing medical assistance. Intrigued, I explored other uses for aloe.

When winter rolled around and my skin was dry, I slit open a leaf and rubbed it all over my hands and face. It felt great. Later at school, people were staring at me—but as soon as I made eye contact they’d turn away. My face was yellow. Not a cool lemon-chiffon yellow or a majestic gold, but a sickly jaundiced ochre, the hepatic tint of liver failure.

The first rule of aloe: there’s some sticky, yellow liquid inside the plant. Separate that from the clear gel, at least if you’re going to spread it on your face in a non-Halloween capacity.

Or, buy your aloe. Not as fun as raising it from childhood, but you’ll avoid the cirrhosis-of-the-face look.

For over 20 years I’ve been using 100% natural, no-color-added, alcohol-free aloe for a wide variety of grooming and household needs…

Hair Gel

Aloe works almost exactly the same as hair gel, but there’s no sticky residue the next day and, because there’s no alcohol, your scalp doesn’t get dry. In fact, your scalp is moisturized with every use. More bang for your buck.

Caveat: aloe doesn’t provide x-treme hold, but this isn’t 1977 and you’re not going to a Stranglers show with a 20” mohawk, so it doesn’t matter.

Emollient

Aloe is great for the skin. It can soothe burns, help repair a sunburned back, or be used as a daily moisturizer. Aloe can relieve red, flaky or itching patches. If you apply it to cuts and scratches, they’ll heal more quickly and scarring will be alleviated.

Cleanser

I once flew from Japan to Ohio for a job interview. Terrible idea, I know. Sadly, I got the job. I devoutly believe in packing light, so my grooming kit was basically a stick of deodorant and a bottle of aloe. After moisturizing, styling, and realizing I should have brought a razor, I noticed my black brogues. They looked like I’d walked all the way from Japan. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I squirted a glob of aloe on each shoe and buffed away. After a few minutes they were as good as new.

It works on leather, pleather and most synthetic materials. I’ve used aloe to gussy up belts, couches, jackets, bicycle seats, a Casio keyboard, plastic toys and hundreds of other objects.

Gastrointestinal Tonic

Yes, you can drink it. But not the stuff they sell for sunburns. Go to a pharmacy or health food store and buy the potable variety. It helps with acid reflux, heartburn, digestion and overall health. I’m sure you can find unsubstantiated studies to prove that aloe cures erectile unpleasantness, whooping cough and slightly-sore elbow syndrome, but who knows. What I do know is that a few swigs of drinking aloe have fixed my stomach many times. The guy at GNC wearing a homemade caftan of chia seeds and dandelion leaves will try to sell you on apple cider vinegar but, from my experience, aloe works and tastes a whole lot better.