I grew up in Florida during the 80‘s when sunscreen was only just becoming a “thing.” I spent most of my childhood in my grandmother’s swimming pool playing Aqua Man and Mermaids. Let’s face it, sunburn happened. While sunscreen had not yet firmly established its stronghold, the ancient aloe plant had. Aloe was everywhere in my childhood. Kitchen burns and lobster red noses were treated alike.
I remember several episodes of my mother cutting off a spiny chunk of aloe, pulling a knife down its green belly, and spilling out that foul-smelling goo. I was fascinated. In my mind my mom was some sort of medicine woman. (Hey, I was a fanciful child.) So last night, when my husband came home with one of those lobster red noses, you better believe I went straight into the kitchen to play medicine woman myself. And though he complained, (as I probably did as a child), he had to agree that he felt better.
Aloe is a magical medicine plant. Ok, maybe it’s not magic, but it does contain all sorts of healing components that make it a valuable plant to keep around. There are more benefits and ingredients than I can list here, and scientists are still studying why and how Aloe works. Ahem, magic. What we do know is that some of those healing components include salicylic acid, the same pain-relieving ingredient found in aspirin, as well as glycans and gibberellins which reduce inflammation and allow the skin to heal faster. Aloe also contains anti-oxidants like Vitamins C and E which help combat the long-term damage that sunburn can cause.
So here we are on the first day of summer and the sun is beckoning. I wanted to talk about aloe, because thirty years later, sunscreen seems to be going through a new round of having to prove itself. And while I won’t get into that here I will encourage you to be smart this summer. However you choose to protect yourself, be it a safe sunscreen or covering up, make sure you have a magical aloe plant in your windowsill, just in case. Besides, I may just come up with some aloe-centric-skincare recipes for you to try!
Happy summer, folks!