No doubt, aloe vera's got range, and keeping it around is definitely a smart move. But as helpful as it is, one thing that's not so great is figuring out how to keep it from going bad before you have a chance to use it all. Whether you grow your own aloe plant at home or buy it on the shelf from the store, here's everything you need to know about keeping your precious aloe vera fresh for as long as possible.
How to keep store-bought aloe vera gel fresh
If you buy your aloe vera product from a store and it’s already bottled, you have a little more leeway for how long you can store it.
"Store-bought aloe vera gel typically won’t go bad, even if slightly after the expiration date, if stored correctly," says Erin James, certified sports nutritionist and founder of SQUAY Wellness. She suggests keeping yours in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. You'll also want to keep it in a sealed, airtight container to avoid letting any moisture in. Another tip for a store-bought aloe product is to check out the package info for any storage details, as well as an expiration date. "Using these methods, it can last for two to three years," she says.
Another pro tip? "If your home gets very hot during the summer and is filled with sunlight, consider storing it in the fridge," says James.
How to store fresh aloe vera gel
One of the bonus benefits from having an aloe vera plant hanging around the house is that anytime you need some gel, all you have to do is cut a leaf and voilá. But since fresh aloe vera can go bad pretty quickly, you'll have to take extra care to keep it viable.
For best results, try to only cut as many aloe leaves as you need and use the gel immediately. When this is not possible, James says the best way to keep the aloe gel fresh is to store it in the fridge. Aloe vera is most sensitive to light, heat, and temperature—so keep it in a dry place, away from heat, and also make sure no moisture can get into the container.
Wondering how to tell when your aloe vera has passed its usable date? "A bad smell is the first sign that your gel has gone off, especially if you made it yourself," says James. Another way to know if your aloe vera’s expired is if it feels like it's not really working. "If you feel it’s not moisturizing your skin anymore, that’s another sign it has gone bad," says James.
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