6 Unexpected Uses for Aloe Vera That Go Beyond Sunburns

iStock
iStock

It’s time to move that tube of aloe vera gel in the back of your bathroom drawer to a prime spot in your medicine cabinet. This versatile plant's gelatinous leaves are good for much more than you think: They can help heal, disinfect, moisturize, and more. Here are a few unexpected ways to use aloe vera.

1. EXFOLIATING YOUR FACE

At one time, the Caribbean island of Aruba was the world’s largest exporter of aloe vera, and two-thirds of the tiny country was blanketed in aloe plantations. Then as now, aloe is used as a natural moisturizer that won’t clog pores. Making your own exfoliating scrub with aloe is easy: Mix one part baking soda (a teaspoon should suffice) to two parts aloe vera gel, which you can find in any drugstore or on Amazon. For a heavier-duty scrub, stir together a quarter-cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon aloe vera.

2. CONDITIONING YOUR HAIR

Adding a dollop of aloe vera gel to your hair post-shampoo will keep your tresses soft, shiny, and flake-free. Aloe may help with seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition that can cause red skin and dandruff, and massage therapists at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort will even rub aloe gel into their clients’ hair during body treatments [PDF]. After checking with a medical practitioner (always a good idea with any skin treatment), you can try pouring the gel directly into your hair, combing it in, and leaving it in for an hour before washing it out. Aloe vera shampoos and conditioners are also sold online if you don’t want to go straight to the source.

3. AIDING YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT

Yes, you can eat aloe vera gel directly from the plant. At the Aruba Aloe Museum, a demonstrator will expertly skin the plant like a fish before allowing guests to take a nibble (it tastes like flavorless slime). If you want to grow and use your own, cut the leaves off close to the base of the plant with a sharp knife, let the bitter brown juice drain out, and then squeeze the gel from the leaf. The plant contains Vitamins A, C, E, and B12, plus folic acid, choline, zinc, and other nutrients. A few studies have suggested that aloe vera gel can reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease, but more research is needed on that front. Ingesting aloe vera juice can also have a pronounced laxative effect, so sip with caution.

4. CLEANSING YOUR SKIN

Aloe contains the anti-oxidant minerals selenium, manganese, and zinc, which neutralize free radicals in the body—thereby helping to stave off some chronic diseases. While the science isn’t clear on whether you can absorb these minerals from aloe-based face washes, they won’t hurt. You can make your own cleanser by mixing 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel with 1 teaspoon of almond milk. If even this simple recipe seems too messy, there are plenty of similar products on the market.

5. HEALING CUTS AND SCRAPES FASTER

Aloe is most famous for its use on sunburns, but it may also help heal cuts and scrapes faster with less chance of infection. A 2009 review in the journal Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia, which evaluated 40 previous studies, found evidence to suggest that aloe vera applied to the skin can treat frostbite, dermatitis, and other cutaneous wounds. Aloe does not protect you from getting sunburns, the authors write, so don't try to use it as a sunscreen.

6. BRUSHING YOUR TEETH

Aloe’s antibacterial qualities also make it a useful ingredient for toothpaste. A 2009 paper in the journal General Dentistry compared a commercially available aloe tooth gel to Colgate and Pepsodent toothpastes and found that the gel was equally as effective in killing several types of oral bacteria, although more study is needed. Aloe also contains anti-inflammatory compounds called anthraquinones. A small 2013 study tested how well aloe vera mouthwash treated gingivitis compared to a more invasive procedure and concluded that the mouthwash helped prevent gum inflammation. On top of that, aloe vera gel doesn’t contain abrasive ingredients so it may be suitable for those with sensitive teeth. Be sure to check with your dentist before switching up your oral care regimen.

The 10 Best Memorial Day 2020 Sales

iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth
iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth

The Memorial Day sales have started early this year, and it's easy to find yourself drowning in offers for cheap mattresses, appliances, shoes, and grills. To help you cut through the noise and focus on the best deals around, we threw together some of our favorite Memorial Day sales going on right now. Take a look below.

1. Leesa

A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
Leesa

Through May 31, you can save up to $400 on every mattress model Leesa has to offer, from the value-minded Studio by Leesa design to the premium Leesa Legend, which touts a combination of memory foam and micro-coil springs to keep you comfortable in any position you sleep in.

Find it: Leesa

2. Sur La Table

This one is labeled as simply a “summer sale,” but the deals are good only through Memorial Day, so you should get to it quickly. This sale takes up to 20 percent off outdoor grilling and dining essentials, like cast-iron shrimp pans ($32), a stainless steel burger-grilling basket ($16), and, of course, your choice of barbeque sauce to go along with it.

Find it: Sur la Table

3. Wayfair

KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Sale on Wayfair.
Wayfair/KitchenAid

Wayfair is cutting prices on all manner of appliances until May 28. Though you can pretty much find any home appliance imaginable at a low price, the sale is highlighted by $130 off a KitchenAid stand mixer and 62 percent off this eight-in-one GoWise air fryer.

And that’s only part of the brand’s multiple Memorial Day sales, which you can browse here. They’re also taking up to 40 percent off Samsung refrigerators and washing machines, up to 65 percent off living room furniture, and up to 60 percent off mattresses.

Find it: Wayfair

4. Blue Apron

If you sign up for a Blue Apron subscription before May 26, you’ll save $20 on each of your first three box deliveries, totaling $60 in savings. 

Find it: Blue Apron

5. The PBS Store

Score 20 percent off sitewide at Shop.PBS.org when you use the promo code TAKE20. This slashes prices on everything from documentaries like Ken Burns’s The Roosevelt: An Intimate History ($48) and The Civil War ($64) to a Pride & Prejudice tote bag ($27) and this precious heat-changing King Henry VIII mug ($11) that reveals the fates of his many wives when you pour your morning coffee.

Find it: The PBS Store

6. Amazon

eufy robot vacuum.
Amazon/eufy

While Amazon doesn’t have an official Memorial Day sale, the ecommerce giant still has plenty of ever-changing deals to pick from. Right now, you can take $100 off this outdoor grill from Weber, $70 off a eufy robot vacuum, and 22 percent off the ASUS gaming laptop. For more deals, just go to Amazon and have a look around.

7. Backcountry

You can save up to 50 percent on tents, hiking packs, outdoor wear, and more from brands like Patagonia, Marmot, and others during Backcountry's Memorial Day sale.

Find it: Backcountry

8. Entertainment Earth

Funko Pops on Sale on Entertainment Earth.
Entertainment Earth/Funko

From now until June 2, Entertainment Earth is having a buy one, get one half off sale on select Funko Pops. This includes stalwarts like the Star Wars and Batman lines, and more recent additions like the Schitt's Creek Funkos and the pre-orders for the upcoming X-Men movie line.

Find it: Entertainment Earth

9. Moosejaw

With the promo code SUNSCREEN, you can take 20 percent off one full-price item at Moosejaw, along with finding up to 30 percent off select items during the outdoor brand's summer sale. These deals include casual clothing, outdoor wear, trail sneakers, and more. 

Find it: Moosejaw

10. Osprey

Through May 25, you can save 25 percent on select summer items, and 40 percent off products from last season. This can include anything from hiking packs and luggage to outdoorsy socks and hats. So if you're planning on getting acquainted with the great outdoors this summer, now you can do it on the cheap.

Find it: Osprey

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

IKEA Has Released Instructions on How to Build a Range of Cool Forts at Home

Mosquito-free camping, brought to you by your own living room furniture.
Mosquito-free camping, brought to you by your own living room furniture.
evgenyatamanenko/iStock via Getty Images

If the current quarantine has you itching to transform your living room into a cozy stronghold of sheets and couch cushions, IKEA is ready to help you make that happen.

The Russian branch of the company has partnered with creative agency Instinct on six indoor fort designs comprising household items like couches, blankets, books, and chairs. The illustrated instructions are easy to follow and even easier to modify based on what you have available at home. If you don’t have a string of lights (or aren’t quite willing to dig out your boxes of Christmas decorations), you could always illuminate the interior with a simple desk lamp; and binder clips can be used instead of clothespins in a pinch.

Pålatka, which loosely translates to tent, consists of a pair of blankets clothespinned together along the top beam of a portable garment rack and held in place on the floor with several heavy books. For anyone looking to simulate the feeling of taking shelter from a passing thunderstorm in a small cave, we recommend Norå, where you drape a blanket over the back of an armchair and toss a few fluffy pillows underneath for added comfort.

As Lifehacker’s Meghan Moravcik Walbert points out, the concept of throwing a sheet over a chair and keeping it in place with books isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s just simple enough that it might not have crossed your mind—especially if you haven’t constructed a furniture fort since childhood.

And, since burying your nose in a book is a great activity for fort-dwellers, here are 11 book series to binge-read.

[h/t Lifehacker]