Sometimes, the basics are what work the best for beauty ailments. Why spend money on all kinds of beauty products only to find that some of them work? Reliability is key, which is why we’re returning to an inexpensive garden cure for all of your summer beauty bothers: aloe vera! Simply whip up one of these aloe-infused remedies for gorgeous skin and hair all season long.
Tip: You can find fresh aloe leaves at grocery or health-food stores. To remove the gel, simply cut off all the leaf’s sides and bottom segment, then scrape out the gel with a spoon. Just be sure to use your harvested gel quickly and keep it in the fridge — it lasts only about 24 hours on the counter and five to seven days in the fridge.
Tame frizz with an aloe leave-in.
Saponins in aloe hydrate hair so it doesn’t seek strand-swelling moisture from summer’s humid air. Plus, these compounds seal hair’s cuticle, locking in moisture, and leaving hair looking super-sleek.
Try It: Add ½ tablespoon of aloe vera gel and 1 cup of water to a spray bottle; shake to combine. Mist evenly onto damp or dry hair, then comb through with a brush. (After you finish using the mixture, clean your spray bottle to avoid buildup in the nozzle. Add three parts vinegar and one part water to the bottle, then spray it into a sink.)
Soften rough patches with an aloe scrub.
Unique compounds in the plant restore hydration and lock moisture into dry, rough patches of skin. And when aloe vera is mixed with sugar (the granules exfoliate dead, dry cells), skin is left looking and feeling baby-soft in a flash.
Try It: Combine ¼ cup of aloe vera gel and 2 tablespoons of sugar. While showering, massage onto damp skin for one minute, then rinse.
Strengthen your locks with an aloe conditioner.
While there is no scientific proof that aloe vera restores thinning hair, certain nutrients in it are beneficial for strengthening hair. Vitamins, minerals, and a plant compound called aloenin in aloe may nourish and stimulate hair follicles. Plus, when paired with fatty acid–rich coconut oil (it “plumps” strands), hair will look instantly thicker.
Try It: Apply 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil all over damp hair and let sit for 15 minutes; rinse.
Slim a double chin with aloe ice cubes.
The combination of the plant’s circulation-boosting compounds and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce swelling caused by excess fluids to alleviate chin bloat. And applying the gel in ice form (the chill helps tighten skin) makes the jawline appear more chiseled, stat.
Try It: Pour aloe vera gel into an ice cube tray and freeze overnight. Pop out one cube, rub it along the jawline for two minutes, and let the residue absorb.
Smooth cellulite with an aloe massage.
While aloe vera has not been proven to remove cellulite, it may help reduce its appearance temporarily. Aloe’s moisturizing properties and aloenin content plump skin to “fill in” dimples. And massaging it in with a dry brush may improve circulation to remove the trapped fluids and toxins that emphasize cellulite.
Try It: Rub a palmful of aloe vera gel on legs, then use a dry brush in upward strokes, starting at the feet and working up to the thighs, for two minutes per leg.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.