Island Remede

“Flawless.”

That was the word my mother used to describe my skin the last time I saw her (last December, for a too-brief window of time just before Christmas. I miss you, mom!) I would never describe myself in such glowing terms, but she was right – I had nary a blemish, and my breakouts were mercifully brief and easily controlled. Then I decided to stop taking my regular birth control pill. There were myriad reasons; weight gain, general apathy, chronic forgetting… but much to my husband’s chagrin I abandoned all things Ortho. Within six months I was a total pizza face. I’m sure a doctor could try to convince me that the pill had nothing to do with my ridiculous breakouts, but I know the truth. My hormones were totally out-of-whack again. When Aunt Flo came a-visiting, she came with a renewed vengance, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen. Ugh.

And the kind of breakouts I was getting were closer to cystic acne – swollen mountains with no white head in sight. I’d try to pop them and they would hurt and leak clear fluid. Nice. At 27, these weren’t the kind of skin issues I expected to be wrangling. All of the topical formulas I tried weren’t helping. Then my Mom reminded me of the natural miracle that worked when I was a teenager – Aloe.

Caribbean people have been eating the stuff (and rubbing it on their skin) for years. Everyone knows about the external benefits of the aloe plant – it’s a popular cure for sunburns and other skin inflammations. But I think Western audiences are starting to catch on to what other cultures have known for a while – the pith of the plant has undeniable medical properties if ingested. (However, unlike the Japanese, I think the idea of aloe flavored food is Gross with a capital G). I was always told that eating aloe “purifies the blood,” or “cleans you out.” It is true that the plant is known as a purgative, and an immunity booster, but the wild claims that it can prevent cancer and blood disorders are as yet unsubstantiated. Plain and simple, I occasionally eat aloe because it has made a noticeable difference to my skin.

You don’t need to go to a health-food store to buy expensive aloe vera juice, either. Here’s how you do it. If you have an aloe plant (and you should, few plants are easier to grow or more useful around the house), make sure it’s the kind with solid green colored leaves and not with white specks. I have no idea why the dark green is the go-to aloe plant, all I know is what I’ve learned from generations of vain Trinidadian women. =)
Cut the leaf off near the base, and slice away the green exterior. Swallow a chunk of pith – you don’t need anything larger than an inch. I know, I know. Sounds gross, right? Actually yes – the pith of an aloe leaf is slimy and gross and bitter. That’s why the calypsonian Sugar Aloes gave himself the name – because he had a sweet voice and bitterly honest lyrics. When I was younger, my mom would cut it and feed it to me in a spoonful of condensed milk to mask the flavor.

Eating aloes plain is the equivalent of eating solidified mucus. For God’s sake, don’t chew it. Swallow it down with a big glass of juice or something.

Then rub the slimy side of the leaf all over your face. It dries to the same texture as an egg white, or peel-off mask. I wash it off after wearing it for about 20 minutes. After using aloe over the weekend, I was able to carefully pop my problem pimple, and I re-applied aloe to reduce scarring.

Wikipedia advises contacting your doctor before ingesting aloe – apparently high doses can cause vomiting. But like I said – don’t eat aloe every day, don’t eat alot of it at a time. All you need is a small sliver. For example, I’m currently taking a small spoonful of aloe every day for three days. Then I’ll take a break for a week. In terms of external use, some people use it every day, and I know for a fact that it’s helped to clear up my skin in the past. Hopefully it will do the same now that I’m dealing with adult acne. I’ll keep you posted!

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Comments

  1. thx for reminding me of this
    i got some vera juice under my sink that i was using for my skin AND hair and didnt think twice of it after i started using KISS MY FACE. i jump products whenever i hear of a another good natural one from my napp sistas…

    coco butter sticks are good too!

  2. 70ssoulchild says:

    Thanks for the tip, Afrobella. I grew up using aloe vera on my body, my parents had a huge plant in our backyard, but I wish I had known to rub in on my face. It would’ve saved me many a huge zit on my forehead on picture day in high school! I’m going to get a plant this weekend.

  3. Watch_and_Learn says:

    Girl, I am getting ready to go in my backyard and lather myself up with some aloe vera!!!! I REALLY hope this works cuz I am at my wit’s end trying to figure out how to maintain my acne situation. I was always told that I’d grow out of it but DAMN, I’m almost 25 and still dealing with zits!!

    If this works, I’ll name my 1st born after you!!!

  4. Watch_and_Learn says:

    Lil’ Bella!!!!

  5. Awe the wisdom of Our West Indian heritage, i was born and raised in The Common Wealth of Dominica and we too know the benefits of Aloe vera, except i didn’t get the condensed milk.

    p.s. I love sugar Aloes

  6. Watch_and_Learn, I’m not making any promises like Lindsay Lohan in those Proactive commercials. But a combination of eating right, exercising, using products that help to control excess oil and bacteria, and following an aloe regimen seems to be working for me. Fingers crossed! We always spend money on expensive ointments and products, and sometimes the best medicine is right there in your backyard.

  7. My daughter has severe eczema and I get the bottled 100% pure aloe vera gel from the health food store. It makes her skin really soft. Maybe I will have her ingest a teaspoon or so every now and then, it says on the bottle that it can be eaten.

  8. afrobella this is the first time i am reading your site and i have to say that this aloe vera posting is really good…….i aways hear my people talking about its benefits but i never tried it….ive got crazy oily skin and i hope this helps thanks……..

  9. Thank you for this post! I’m going to try it myself. My husband raves about aloe, he is from the West Indies as well(Bahamas). I’ll come back with results even!

  10. I wonder what are the chances of getting a plant up here in London?

  11. U know I have forgotten about the wonders of the aloe vera plant. My mother used that on me when I was a young child and I was born and raised in the USA. I will go back to o’ natural products to better my skin than buying over price products that do nothing for my skin, but dip deep in my wallet and banking accounts. I will be picking up a plant this weekend:).

  12. earthtone says:

    I’ll be buying aloe vera this weekend!

  13. During a trip to St. Lucia I took a bath in the sulfur springs at Soufriere. This is when I learned about the benefits of applying sulfur to the skin….so when I had a recent break out and realized that the products containing salicylic acid just made my skin more inflamed I did some research and found a product containing Sulfur at my local walmart. It is wonderful for spot treatments and my face is now starting to recover. It is called Dr. Throwers Heritage quick drying acne treatment. Apparently Clearasil sells an adult acne formula containing sulfur also but my local walmart did not carry this.

  14. Would this work for men with extremely oily skin?
    Hit me back with an email.

    As a matter of fact, any skin care for men (with oily skin and constant breakouts)?

  15. Very informative!

  16. jerseybred says:

    I bought some Aloe Vera over the weekend, I think I will rub some on my skin. I swallowed it and its does not have a taste to it. The one I bought is called Fruit of the Earth, 1 quart for $5.99.

  17. I enjoyed your post regarding the Aloe. My Mom used to keep an aloe plant and we treated burns with it. Regarding treating oily skin with breakouts, I also suggest using Witch Hazel as an astringent, dabbing pure Tea Tree oil directly only on the head of the pimple, and keeping clean pillowcases. Also the CLEAN & CLEAR® ADVANTAGE™ Acne Spot Treatment (http://www.cleanandclear.com/products/acne_treat/acne_spottreat.shtml) product you wrote about in another post does work wonders for me overnight. I know that this may be hard, but I also suggest dietary changes like limiting carbonated beverages, fried foods, and chips to help combat the oiliness and clear up the skin.

  18. bootylikejlo says:

    my name is xochilt. well i had severe sun damage on my face i hope the plant works!

  19. Have any of you considered Blue Light Led treatments. Led lights are becoming less expensive.

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  20. Im so glad to hear this. I have the plant and rub it on my face but I cannot stand the bitter taste…even without chewing…any suggestions? can I dip it in honey first? lol

  21. I, too, had the increased appetite and forgetfulness thanks to Ortho. I was off hormones for a while and now am on YAZ with much better results. The only side effect so far seems to be the ability to get mad.
    Thanks for the tip on eating aloe. It does wonders for my hair and sunburns, but I never thought to put it on acne. Even at 30, I still have the occasional Mount Vesuvius pop up. Now I can fight it on two fronts.

  22. thanks for sharing this with a broader audience. i’ve never heard of ingesting aloe, but you have me convinced to grow an aloe plant in the house. i have west indian relatives and one in particular used to have aloe plants among her house plants. nice post!

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Thaddeus responded to my Island Remede post about the magical powers of aloe vera with the following question: Would this work for men with extremely oily skin? Hit me back with an email. As a matter of fact, any skin care for men (with oily skin and constant breakouts)? [...]

  2. [...] far I’ve written two Island Remède posts, the first on aloe, the second on coconut oil. And the last time I wrote one, my brother Dominic contacted me to say [...]

  3. [...] of tremendous help to me — although not by internal ingestion. Castor oil has proven to be an island remede par excellence, and the holy grail my hair so desperately [...]

  4. [...] great at-home or easy on-location spa treatment (and island remede) — beach sand. Ever since I was a wee one, mama bella would sit where the water lapped gently [...]

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