Aloe vera is a succulent plant species that’s been used as an herbal remedy since the first century AD. Its leaves are a thick, fleshy, grey-green color and the plant is known for its phytochemicals. And all those antioxidants mean it’s great for your skin. Aloe vera produces two substances, gel and latex. Aloe gel is a clear substance found in the inner part of the plant leaf. Most products are made from the whole crushed leaf.

5 Great Topical Uses for Aloe Vera

1. Relieve sunburn. This is probably the most famous use of aloe vera gel. Buy the gel or simply break the leaf in two and apply the insides directly to your skin. Or for a different take, freeze aloe vera gel in an ice cube tray. Soothe and cool the skin with homemade aloe vera ice cubes. 2. Reduce dark spots on face. Aloe has subtle skin lightening properties, from absorption of UV light to moisturizing aging skin. Choose natural topical darkspot creams made with aloe. 3. Relieve dry, cracked feet. Soothe dry, cracked feet by combining 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup corn meal, 4 Tbsp. aloe vera gel, and 1/2 cup unscented body lotion. Rub all over dry cracked feet and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse your feet in warm water. 4. Soothe bug bites. It’s cooling and pain relieving, that’s why aloe vera is great when applied directly to bug bites in a similar way as you would apply it to sunburn. It’s also good for killing potential bacteria and preventing infection naturally while allowing bites to heal faster. 5. Remove makeup. Gently apply the gel to remove eye makeup. Aloe vera is a makeup remover that’s naturally effective without the harsh chemicals of many conventional makeup removers.

Sara Novak is a Natural Health Care Expert for Zax Health. Follow her on Twitter at @sarafnovak.