How to Be the Best Plant Parent to Your Skin-Saving Aloe Vera Tree

Since moving into my studio apartment, I've told people I live alone. In fact, I actually have a secret boarder, and his name is Kevin. He is a little prickly, loves to spread out, and takes up the only window in my place. That's because Kevin is an aloe vera tree.

Kevin requires a lot of maintenance and care — I tell people he's preparing me for motherhood. I have to water him, clip him, and sing to him. (The carbon dioxide my breath omits helps him grow.)

Taking care of an aloe plant is a little bit of work, but it's not a one-way street. Along with keeping me company, Kevin provides a plethora of skincare assets. Even Drew Barrymore is a fan of his kind. Here are a few ways aloe vera can help your skin.

  • It calms redness: If you pop open an aloe vera stem, some pus-like goo will come out. It may not look pretty, but it's a natural anti-inflammatory. That means it helps to depuff, soothe redness, and kill bacteria. If you pop it under your eyes, it will reduce swelling that comes with seasonal allergies or staying up too late. Similarly, it will quench dry skin. The antibacterial element kills surprise zits that have already started to come to a head.
  • It brightens: Got hyperpigmentation? Aloe plants naturally contain vitamin C, which works to brighten dark spots over time. Apply gobs of the stuff to your acne scars before bed, and you'll see a difference with continued use.
  • It treats dry scalp: If you've got a blender and an aloe stem, you've got a DIY scalp treatment. Pop the goop from a stem into your blender, and pulse until it's a spreadable liquid. Rub it into your hair and scalp at night, then wake up and rinse. You'll feel dandruff- and flake-free, and your hair will shine.
  • It soothes sunburn: OK, we probably know this already, but it bears repeating: aloe will soothe the sh*t out of a sunburn. Of course, the best way to treat a sunburn is to not get one in the first place, but if you do, rub the plant's innards on your burn for near-instant relief.

To be the best plant parent ever, be sure to give aloe vera the conditions it needs to survive. These are desert plants; as such, they demand tons of sunlight and won't survive if you don't give them prime window real estate. Be sure to put yours in a planter that has holes, which will drain water (this $18 Amazon option is a good bet), as aloe doesn't like to sit in wet conditions.