Summer is here and the intense heat draws the moisture from our faces.Everyone has heard that aloe vera is good for treating burns or sun-damaged skin. It has been said to help with wrinkles, scars, acne, and even diaper rash. In fact, the flesh of this succulent is loaded with anti-inflammatory properties and polysaccharides. So it offers a host of almost miraculous benefits for injured skin. However, you don’t need skin damage to discover the benefits of aloe; just think of how great it could be when used as a nourishing facial mask.

In the Southwest, it’s quite common to find the hardy aloe vera plant in gardens or in the wild. It’s a staple in most garden stores, plant nurseries and many health food stores and can also be purchased online.

With a single, thick, aloe leaf, here's how make your own miracle mask in minutes:

1. With a sharp knife, separate a full leaf from the base of the plant.

2. Next, cut the bottom 2 inches (the thickest, juiciest part) off the leaf. This is what you will use for the mask.

3. There will be pointed “teeth” along both edges. Slice down one side removing just the teeth. Now cutting into the leaf from this side, slice it open along its length. You should end up with the 2-inch section of leaf open like a book. It will be wet with fresh aloe vera gel inside.

4. Apply the gel onto your freshly washed face.Take care with the corners of the plant around eyes and other tender areas.

5. As you allow the aloe gel to dry, you will feel a tightening and firming of your skin (like expensive beauty products). Once it has fully dried and the goodness has been absorbed, rinse your face and apply your favorite moisturizer. You’ll be surprised how smooth your skin feels.