Living in Tunisia has spoiled me. We arrived last summer to our new home, and for the first time in my life, I had a garden. It was well established, and thriving in a dreamy climate that allows everything to grow green and rich. I call it our oasis. I love our yard. It has everything I could ask for. Bushes with hibiscus that seem tropical, and give me gratitude to see something so exotic blooming so naturally. Flower shaped succulents. Every herb you can dream of. Our garden is complete with three rose bushes, essential for making my organic rose water. (Grab that recipe here)
We have fragrant jasmine that smells like a dream in July and August, and fully utilized for recipes and our afternoon tea. There’s even a study lemon tree that has climbing potential for my daughter, Payton, and yields more lemons than you could ever use in the winter months. If that weren’t enough, our pear tree is starting to ripen.
One of the plants I have gradually become fond of is our aloe plants. They were planted in a window box in our front yard. When I arrived I thought I would replace them with some red florals. They looked wild and uninviting, with its thorny pointed and long winding green leaves. Some red flowers contrast so gorgeously against our Sidi Bou blue windows. But, once I realized that it was aloe growing in our front yard, I decided that I will continue to harvest aloe leaves, to get the most of it’s magical plant properties, and take full advantage of it’s topical benefits.
Aloe gel is widely known and used for it’s healing and hydrating properties. Filled with vitamins + minerals + amino acids + antioxidants, it is popular and powerful as an “after sun” care ingredient. We all know that sun exposure is damaging to our skin, and aloe is common go to for a holistic regime in treating burns, including sunburns.
In the summer, I find my skin needs a weekly clay mask. My go to clay for this summer inspired mask was a French Green clay powder, which I purchased locally. It is highly absorbent and derived of decomposed plant matter. A clay mask is so beneficial in the warm months of the year, as clays absorb oils, toxins, and other impurities from your skin. I decided to combine aloe, green clay, and some cooling ingredients, such as organic cucumber seed oil and mint essential oil to this mask. I am using it once a week as a highly cleansing, nourishing treat for my skin, which provides a cooling sensation. If you ask me, it is the perfect summer self care regime in my Friday night bath. Some new evidence suggests that aloe vera may even have anti-aging effects on the skin, which never hurts in your non toxic skin care regime, either 😉
After doing a little research, I learned that it’s best to harvest aloe with a knife instead of picking it with your hands, to avoid damaging the plant. After cutting the leaf from the plant, I held the cut end down towards the ground to allow the aloin run out of its leaf. Once drained, I rinsed my leafs and cut it’s sharp serrated edges. From there, I used a sharp knife to remove the skin, until just the translucent gel is exposed. I scooped out the gel, set aside a table spoon of my fresh aloe to be mixed with my green clay for a garden fresh face mask. If you do not have an aloe plant, you can purchase high quality organic aloe gel in health food stores, or here.
I am storing this mask in our fridge, for some additional cooling properties, and in gorgeous glass and environmentally friendly bamboo top glass jar. I love these cosmetic jars, as they are not only beautiful for gifting, but they are glass without a plastic lid. We do our best to avoid storing anything that goes in or on our bodies in plastic, and avoid it the best that we can for it’s environmental implications.
If you make this mask, I’d love to see how cute you look it in (the color is such a rich green, both of my kids got a kick out of me testing it) and know what you think. Lots of love + enjoy this summer sun.