Aloe vera gel has some of the most diverse uses out of any plant, from treating burns to helping with constipation. It’s one of the most common ingredients in many of my home DIY products I make, and best of all it can be grown in your own home garden! No more need to purchase it from the store, 100% pure aloe gel is just a few steps away… from garden to kitchen 😉
Aloe vera gel can be used as a treatment for acne scars and craters; simply rub gel on affected areas 2-3 times a day. However it can take a while to fully take effect, with some anecdotal reports saying improvements were noticed after 1 1/2-2 years, and only when this treatment was applied consistently, day in, day out.
The gel can also be rubbed into the scalp to promote hair growth, applied as a face mask, used after the bath/shower as a moisturiser, used in lotions, in makeup; like in homemade mascara and eyeliner (I’ll be sharing the recipes for these soon!), etc.
I wanted to share this ‘how to’ today as… I’d recently learnt that I’d been removing the gel from aloe leaves wrong all these years!! I was watching Plastic Free Mermaid’s YouTube video on how to extract aloe gel properly from the plant, and along the way I came to realise that the “correct” way to remove the gel was not at all my way of extracting aloe gel (I used to cut the aloe leaf down the middle and just scrape out the gel with a spoon), but her way/the right way was SO MUCH EASIER.
So, to pass on her wisdom so you, too, won’t have to go years extracting aloe gel “wrong” 😉 , here’s how to remove the gel from an aloe vera plant properly, PLUS, how to make homemade aloe vera gel with it, PLUS, how to make a homemade DIY face mask using this fresh gel! Enjoy!!
Extracting Aloe Vera Gel from the Plant
- Check your aloe vera plant before starting.
Before beginning, check that your aloe is a mature plant. How do you know? A mature and healthy aloe plant has large, green leaves: they should be about 8 inches (20 cm) long. Aloe plants grow from the centre outward, so when picking the leaves opt for the outermost leaves – look for the oldest, largest, and richest of the leaves to use.
- Cut off the aloe leaves you’ll be using.
This will depend on how much aloe vera you’ll be needing. To remove the leaf, use a sharp knife and cut the leaf at the base of the plant. Note: the leaves do not grow back, but by only cutting a small portion of the plant, you’ll allow the remaining plant to continue growing and overtime, it’ll produce more aloe vera leaves for you to use in future!
– Make sure that your knife is sharp to ensure you cause minimal damage to the plant as you remove the leaf.
- Clean away the yellow liquid from the cut aloe vera leaf.
You may notice once you’ve brought your aloe leaf inside, that a yellow substance has begun to ooze from the cut. This can create a bit of a mess if left unchecked. This yellow liquid is a sap called aloe latex. It’s not part of the aloe vera gel, which you’ll see is clear and thick in appearance, and you don’t want it to mix in with the gel, as it can contaminate it. Aloe latex contains laxative properties that can upset your digestive track if consumed. So, to stop the liquid oozing everywhere, point the leaf vertically, the cut end facing down, into a bowl to allow the substance to continue to drip out. Using a pitcher, pour water over the leaf and use your fingers to clean the leaf from top to bottom, directing the water into the bowl.
- Cut off the top section of the leaf.
You’ll see that towards the top end of the leaf, it becomes much thinner. Because of this thinness, it will take more time trying to get the gel from this portion than it’s actually worth. Instead, cut this portion off and pop it in the compost.
– You may need to repeat the previous step and rinse the top portion as it may now also be oozing out the yellow liquid.
– Also, depending on the size of your aloe vera leaves, you may find it easier when it comes to extracting the gel that cutting the thick portion of the leaf into additional pieces may make it easier, either along the leaf’s length, width, or both ways (into cubes, perhaps).
- Cut away the spikes.
This is an important step. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been cut by these spikes when using the gel from my aloe leaves (and it hurts… a lot). So, before you can get to the gel centre, remove the hard, spine edges on either side of the leaf. Carefully cut them away, sliding the knife down the edge of the leaf, keeping your hands a safe distance away as you do so to avoid accidentally injuring yourself during the process.
– Make sure to cut as close to the spikes as possible to avoid losing some of the gel in the process.
- Remove the top and bottom leaf ‘skin’ layers.
The leaves have a flat side, and a curved side. Begin with the flat side. Lay your leaf flat on a cutting board, and carefully slice away the skin of the aloe vera leaf, pushing your knife down into the chopping board as you slide it along the bottom, and push the top of the leaf down onto the knife to make it as flat as possible. Your knife should be in between the gel and the green skin outer layer. Flip over and repeat this process for the top layer.
– Note: if you’re worried about cutting yourself in this step, you can choose to use a fruit peeler instead of a knife, and just peel away the skin.
- Making the smooth aloe gel.
At this point, you should have slabs of clear aloe vera gel. If you notice any bits of leaf left on them, trim them off. Be sure to rinse the aloe vera gel itself 2-3 times when you’re finished to make sure there’s no aloe latex residue left on it. Now, to make the smooth aloe gel you see in those tubes at the store, pop the gel into a blender. Blend until it’s frothy and liquefied, which should only take a few seconds. At this point, your gel is ready to use! If you plan on storing it, keep the gel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or alternatively, you can freeze the aloe gel in small batches – for instance, in an ice cube tray – to have small amounts at the ready. Frozen aloe gel can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
– Note: use a spoon to scrape up any excess gel left over along the skin.
DIY Aloe Face Mask
Now that you have your fresh aloe gel all ready to go, here’s a simple face mask that’s great for acne, or can simply be used to help nourish and hydrate skin!
- Aloe vera gel (I used the gel of one leaf – about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp pure raw honey
- 1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp rosehip oil
- In a bowl, start with 2 (or more, if needed) tablespoons of pure raw honey, 1 tablespoon of pure aloe vera gel, and mix together until combined. The mixture should be easy to spread, but not runny. Next, mix in 1/4 tablespoon of ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of rosehip oil and apply the mask to your face. Once on, relax and sit back while the mask does its thang for 5-10 minutes. Gently clean off using a damp cloth.
As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor before trying or using any new products. It’s important to check with a doctor before taking this or any new product, especially if taking any other medicine or supplement or if pregnant or nursing. Before use, test a small amount of aloe vera on skin before using, to make sure there is no allergic reaction to it.
Extracting aloe gel from plant + face mask tutorial
Have you used aloe vera before? How did it go? Share below! We’d love hear!
Lots of love,
Thakur, Ritu, MA. (Updated: October 1, 2020). How to Extract Aloe Vera. WikiHow. Retrieved from https://www.wikihow.com/Extract-Aloe-Vera
Cronkleton, Emily. (December 12, 2018). How to Use Fresh Aloe Vera. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-use-aloe-vera-plant
Shoemaker, SaVanna, MS, RDN, LD. (October 4, 2019). How to Make Aloe Vera Gel. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-make-aloe-vera-gel
Watson, Kathryn. (Updated: March 7, 2019). How to Use Aloe Vera for Acne. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/aloe-vera-for-acne