The use of aloe vera dates back to ancient Egyptian times and it has been labeled "the plant of immortality" by the millions who swear by it. Aloe vera is a cactus plant, grows best in dry climates and has been used for centuries for medical purposes.

Aloe vera’s leaves secrete a clear aloe gel, which can be applied to the skin to heal wounds and soothe all sorts of ailments – but just how many benefits can you get out of an aloe vera leaf? Below, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about this powerhouse cactus.

Moisturizing

One of the best things about using aloe vera for moisturizing is that it doesn't leave a greasy layer on the top of your skin. If you use mineral-based makeup, then you should apply aloe vera to your face before getting ready for the day, and you won't have to worry about drying skin.

Sunburn relief

Sunburn is never fun. Plus, as much as you apply sunscreen to your skin throughout your summer holidays, it's still possible to get too much sun and see your skin suffer as a result. Aloe vera is one of the best ways to soothe sunburned skin.

Its gel has powerful healing properties and adds a protective layer to the top of your skin, helping to replenish the moisture that you lose when your skin burns. Furthermore, because the gel also has antioxidant properties, aloe vera can help the skin to heal much quicker and return to its usual self.

Digestion aid

Aloe vera is known to improve digestion and also relieve ulcers in your mouth and stomach because of the nutrients in the plant. To test this out for yourself, buy food and drink that contains aloe vera, put some aloe vera foliage in water, or chew on pieces of the aloe’s leaf.

Anti-aging benefits

Nobody likes the thought of getting older and losing their youthful appearance. When you get older, the chances are that you'll lose your skin's natural elasticity, but aloe vera contains a range of antioxidants that can improve your skin's firmness. Beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C all work together to hydrate your skin and give you a warm and healthy glow.

Treats acne and other skin problems

There are two key hormones in aloe vera gel – auxin and gibberellins. These hormones have anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties, which reduces inflammation on your skin, and therefore the appearance of acne. Gibberellin is a growth hormone, so can be used to promote the growth of new cells and allow the skin to heal if you suffer from scarring.

Promotes good oral health

According to some studies, aloe vera is a helpful aid in the treatment and prevention of gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Aloe vera also reduces symptoms like bleeding, gum swelling and inflammation, and its antiseptic and antifungal qualities can keep your mouth healthy, especially in hard-to-reach areas where brushing usually misses.

Nourishes your body

The solid parts of the aloe vera plant contain more than 75 important nutrients, making the shoot a healthy addition to any balanced diet. Aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, sugars, sterols, amino acids, enzymes, salicylic acid and more – it’s a nutrient-dense food that can easily be added to salads, smoothies, and other items without difficulty.

Reduces the appearance of stretch marks

When your skin is stretched through weight gain or during pregnancy, the chances are that you’ll develop stretch marks. The marks appear because of minor tears in the skin's layers, but aloe vera gel hides these marks by healing the wounds.

Keeps hair healthy

Aloe vera gel contains proteolytic enzymes, which are known to repair the dead skin cells that are found on your scalp. Aloe is also a great natural hair conditioner and can keep your hair smooth and shiny. That's because the gel has a similar chemical makeup to keratin, which is the hair's primary protein, meaning that it can give your hair elasticity and prevent breakage.

Make a hair repair mask using aloe vera gel and coconut oil, applying to your scalp and leaving it to sit for as long as possible. The result will be smooth, strong hair.

Helps you to lose weight

Aloe vera isn’t only useful for the beauty industry – it can be used as part of a balanced diet to help you to lose weight. As the plant is filled with enzymes, amino acids, and sterols, even a small amount can improve your body’s nutrition levels and help you to achieve your weight loss goals. The gel is rich in anti-oxidants, so it can help you to cut out free radicals in your body and boost your immunity levels; it’s also a source of protein, which will aid in muscle development and replenishing energy levels.

There you have it – 10 of the biggest benefits of aloe vera. Whether you choose to take the natural route – that is, buying aloe vera plants and creating home remedies – or choose health and beauty products that contain the ingredient, getting more aloe vera in your life can only be a good thing.