Aloe vera is a plant that grows primarily in hot, dry climates. Its medicinal properties are recognized by many cultures across the globe. The sap secreted from aloe leaves is used for a variety of health purposes including as a digestive tonic, for healing wounds and sunburns, and moisturizing the skin. Its astringent properties make it an excellent substance for pampering your pores.
The best source of pure aloe extract is from the plant itself. It's easy to obtain, simply by cutting the tip of a leaf and squeezing it to encourage the sap to ooze. You can also buy bottled aloe juice from health food and specialty stores. Some commercial products are mixed with other ingredients and are not as highly concentrated in pure aloe juice as you might like. Aloe acts not only as an astringent to tighten pores, but also moisturizes and soothes sun-damaged skin. It helps reduce swelling from acne sores and removes toxins released through the skin.
Straight Aloe Gel
Use aloe gel straight as a facial mask. Its natural astringent and emollient properties will help cleanse and reduce pore size as well as moisturize your skin. Simply squeeze the gel from one or two leaves and rub it gently with your fingers across your face. Leave it on for about 15 minutes until it dries and then rinse well with cool water and pat your face dry.
Aloe and Egg White
Egg whites are an excellent base for a toning mask and are found in many homemade facial formulas. Their skin-tightening properties help to reduce pore size and extract oils and other impurities from the skin. Mix the white of one egg with 1/4 cup of aloe gel or aloe juice and smooth the mixture on your face. Allow it to dry fully until your skin feels tight. Rinse your skin with cool water to remove the mask and pat dry with a soft towel.
Aloe and Cucumber
Aloe gel and cucumber makes an excellent mask that helps to add moisture and reduce facial swelling. Cucumber is very soothing to the skin. It helps hydrate and nourish the skin and acts as an astringent, drying oils and cleansing pores. The pH in cucumber is the same as the skin, so it helps restore the skin's acid mantle, according to the book, "Natural Beauty at Home". Remove the seeds and peel from the cucumber. Mix thoroughly in a blender, 1/4 medium cucumber, 5 fresh mint or basil leaves, 1/4 cup aloe gel or juice. Beat 1 egg white separately until it has stiff peaks and then fold it into the cucumber mixture. Apply to your face and leave the mixture on for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat your face dry with a soft towel.
After applying any type of facial mask, be sure to moisturize your skin. Most masks remove oils from the skin and your face may feel tight afterwards. Apply your favorite moisturizing cream to retain moisture and soften skin. Add a few drops of pure aloe gel or aloe juice to your moisturizer to continue to benefit from its medicinal properties after your mask is complete.
Jean Bardot is a freelance writer and natural health practitioner. She started writing in 1994 and has contributed articles to publications such as "Similimum" and the "IFH Journal." She has a Bachelor of Science in public health from the University of North Carolina and a Master of Science in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health.