Legend tells us that two Egyptian queens - Nefertiti and Cleopatra - relied on aloe vera to keep their youthful complexions.
The queens drank and bathed in extract derived from the plant. Now, lovelies including Sydney-born model Miranda Kerr, consume it.
The clear fluid that comes from the pulp of its meaty leaves abounds in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Processed by the cosmetic and health product industries, aloe vera is said to be the world's most widely used medicinal plant.
Touted as a super food and miracle cure, it certainly is versatile, with a host of commercial applications - not least juice and gel.
Former magazine publisher Oscar de Vries founded his Narrabeen-based aloe vera shaving business a decade ago with $400,000 raised through private investors. De Vries sells his Oscar gel through Woolworths, Coles and Priceline, among other stockists persuaded by his adamant pitch of quality minus a premium price tag.
"You just keep going until you get in," he says.
He started the business, which takes his first name, because he hated shaving with standard gel that caused razor burn. He has since sold hundreds of thousands of skin-friendly aloe vera shaving products, making modest money, given how many hours he works.
But next, de Vries, who runs his business with his significant other - Qantas flight attendant Alison Cosgrove - plans to expand distribution in Australia and intensify marketing in countries including the Netherlands.
There, the Dutch-born entrepreneur has signed one of its biggest retailers, Etos, the Dutch equivalent of Priceline. Again, his method was persistence.
De Vries expected the door to slam in his face, but then he ventured an observation. "I pointed out that they did not have one single natural shaving prep - just the usual me-too chemical rubbish," he says.
He was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of the response.
Eventually, de Vries hopes to crack the US market, buoyed by inquiries from US travellers, who bought his gel here. Its benefit, he says, is that it hydrates your skin more effectively than mainstream shaving preparations based on cheap chemical ingredients.
Aloe vera is often called organic or 100 per cent pure. One Australian aloe vera juice dealer, Nature's Sunshine, frames its offering as free of herbicides and pesticides and "stringently tested and Certified Organic by the International Aloe Science Council".
Keying into Australia's blossoming $579 million organic industry through marketing an unadulterated version of a substance that already breathes health seems smart - especially because global demand for organic products is rising with increasing health consciousness and growing environmental concern, according to research group IBISWorld.
Health industry veteran turned publicist Molly Reynolds confirms that aloe vera's all-natural, wholesome character is a powerful drawcard. Everyone hates chemical additives, she says.
Aloe vera is exceptionally attractive and versatile, she says, noting that its uses range from body lotion to "extremely healthy juice product".
"The name aloe vera really sells itself because almost everyone - health-conscious or not - knows it is a good thing," she says.
Independent chemist Ron Robinson is equally enthusiastic. Noting that, for centuries, aloe vera has been used to heal skin wounds and treat skin conditions, Robinson says science backs those uses. Studies show that aloe gel may effectively treat a range of complaints, from dandruff to grazes, minor burns, psoriasis and radiation-caused injuries.
Aloe vera is very popular, especially during summer, Robinson says. Buyers are often outdoor types and personal crusaders against the ageing process, keen to curb signs of sun damage. So a good way to market aloe vera is just to lace anti-sun products and anti-ageing treatments with it, he says.
Or, as traders do, you could peddle it as a laxative and stomach soother. The alkaline juice with many fans can do wonders for irritations, including irritable bowel syndrome, it is widely reported.
To mask its soapy taste, vendors add flavourings ranging from coconut to grape and peach.
If you are seriously entrepreneurial, you could try growing the spiky succulent yourself. After all, it thrives in poor soil, needing minimal watering because its fluid-packed leaves make it drought-tolerant and therefore suited to Australia's climate.
Aloe vera's low-maintenance tilt means it works especially well in commercial and government plantings.
Commonly, it is featured in gardens and homes, to dramatic effect – the cactus-like lily cuts a stunning contrast with dainty, domestic plants including ferns and African violets. Clearly, in the right space the part-time beauty product that seduced two African queens has its own jagged charm.