After Sun Talents
When summer arrives, we can enjoy the warm sunshine on our skin – best only in moderation. If you’ve been in the sun too long, plant power can come to the rescue: aloe vera gel and nettle extract provide sun-irritated skin with refreshing care. What can we learn from Aloe Vera and Small Nettle ?
Many people are already familiar with the unpleasant stinging sensation caused by touching the hairs of the small nettle (Latin name: Urtica urens) and its cousin, the large stinging nettle (Latin name: Urtica dioica). And yet it is precisely the small nettle, an otherwise inconspicuous plant that grows in gardens and meadows, which can help us, if our skin has been exposed to too much sun or tormented by insect bites. In order to understand the benefits of the small nettle, it’s best to compare it with the large nettle. The small nettle, an annual plant that grows to a height of only 50 cm, surprisingly stings much more than its larger cousin. Every plant has both male stamens and female pistils. It carries both separately – the female flowers at the top and the male flowers below – but they usually do not bloom at the same time.
The large nettle, on the other hand, grows up to two metres high and is perennial, spreading with the help of its extensive underground root network. There is a clear difference between the male plants, with stamens, and female plants, where the fruits grow.
A comparison of these two species reveals that everything is much more concentrated in the small nettle than in the large nettle. It seems as if the smaller species does not consume enough energy for a complicated fertilisation apparatus and strong vegetative growth, but instead focuses everything on the small, single plant.
At Weleda, we harness these properties by using small nettle extract in our Burns and Bite Cooling Gel – in a formulation together with aloe vera gel – to soothe and calm irritated skin.
Aloe vera (Latin name: Aloe barbadensis) is a true survivor. This succulent of the lily family thrives in the otherwise hostile deserts of North Africa and Sudan, for example. With its thick, watery leaves it offers a counterpart to its dry, warm habitat. Aloe vera creates space for watery elements, heals dryness and provides balance.
The power of aloe vera rests within its leathery, pointed leaves. Its leaves, which have short, jagged tooth-like edges, are composed of three layers. The inner, thickest layer consists of a colourless gel. It is sterile, pH-neutral and soothing and cooling to the skin. When the skin lacks its healthy, invigorating moisture in the presence of excessive heat, aloe vera proves itself to be a master of equilibrium, establishing renewed harmony. Water alone could not achieve this, for it would cause the skin to swell and then dry out in the long run.
In order to obtain the valuable gel of organically grown aloe vera for our Weleda After Sun Lotion, the outer layer of the harvested leaves is first peeled off, for it contains irritating substances. Only the contiguous piece of gel – the inner fillet – is processed, by being pressed and filtered. In our Burns and Bite Gel, aloe vera gel provides a pleasant coolness and harmonises the skin’s natural moisture balance after sunbathing.