Updated: Sep 27, 2022
I use it daily as part of my skin care routine. After I was shocked to discover how adulterated my aloe vera gel was, I searched for a more reputable supplier.
How Pure Is My Aloe Vera Gel?
I use aloe vera gel in several DIY self-care and first aid products in my home. My local store was out of stock. So, I considered buying an aloe leaf from the nearest co-op to extract my own gel.
I decided against it because if I’m honest, I wanted the convenience of gel in a bottle. I had to search for a new supplier. The hard reality hit me at this point. All these 100% pure aloe vera gel products were by no means pure. It had never dawned on me to check the purity. Until now.
It was upsetting because the product I used clearly advertises it as “100% Aloe Vera Gel.” I looked at the label, and it did contain aloe vera, but the first ingredient was water. The product also included a bunch of preservatives.
What Is Aloe Vera Gel?
There are more than 400 aloe plant varieties, but the Aloe barbadensis miller is considered the most effective for skin care.
An aloe leaf is made up of three parts. As you cut through a leaf, you’ll see:
The outer green ‘rind’ or skin;
then the thick yellow middle sap that contains latex;
and finally, the center that holds the nutrient-rich gel.
The center section (the gel) is the part of the aloe plant that is used in skin care products. It’s made up of 99% water but is also packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals.
There are over 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids, 20 minerals, and 75 nutrients in aloe vera gel.
Pay Attention to Labels When Buying Prepackaged Aloe Vera Gel
Check the labels. Those sneaky labels are often printed in font so tiny that a fairy might need spectacles to read it. I take my trusty magnifying glass with me to combat the tiny label trick.
You are your skin’s advocate and protector. Judge the product on its ingredient list, color, concentration, and more. Here are a few things to look out for.
In the last few years, aloe vera gel and the products that include it have become very popular. It’s an amazing product, but where there is a great demand we often see a dip in quality to meet the demand. Just because a product makes promises and has fancy packaging, doesn’t qualify its purity.
Color: Pure aloe vera gel is light translucent yellow. It can be clear as colors may vary based on the harvesting season. Some store-bought aloe vera is green which means it has been artificially colored. This is a definite red flag.
Listed Ingredients: Aloe vera gel must be the first ingredient on the label list. The first ingredient in any store-bought item indicates that it is the main ingredient in that product. Some products will show water as the first ingredient which dilutes the effects of the little plant material in the product.
Too Many Ingredients: Aloe vera gel doesn’t need a host of included ingredients. It’s great on its own. So be wary of long ingredient lists.
Smell: Aloe vera gel smells earthy and a bit like garlic. If your products smell sweet or flowery, chances are pretty high that the supplier added a fragrance. Fragrances can cause breakouts or skin rashes for sensitive or inflamed skin.
Percentage of Aloe Vera: If you decide to purchase a moisturizer that claims to contain aloe vera, make sure that the percentage of aloe vera is not lower than 15%–20%. Anything lower than that is ineffective.
Avoid Alcohol: Make sure that there is no alcohol in the product. Alcohol provides a cooling effect on the skin but also dries the skin out. It’s far too harsh. Some folks enjoy that cooling effect. Instead of buying a product with alcohol, buy the no alcohol version and store it in the refrigerator to achieve the same cooling effect.
Name: The bottle may say “Aloe Vera 100% Gel,” but the play on words could be a marketing trick. Although putting “100% gel” after the words “Aloe Vera,” may be a hint that although aloe vera is present, the supplier could also have added other cheaper gels to bulk it up.
Extract vs. Gel: Aloe vera extract is not the same as the gel.
IASC: Look for the IASC (International Aloe Science Council) seal on the packaging. This organization keeps the producer honest and certifies that it offers the highest quality and purity.
EWG.org/Skindeep: Another way of checking the purity of any skincare product, is to type the name of the product into ewg.org/skindeep. The Environmental Working Group website will highlight the safety of every ingredient in the product and if the product was tested on animals or not. They will rate the product on a scale from 1 (best) to 10 (worst).
How Aloe Leaves Are Harvested
My Best Advice is….
Check the label.
The International Aloe Council
U.S. National Library of Medicine; Composition and Applications of Aloe vera Leaf Gel
U.S. National Library of Medicine; An evaluation of the biological and toxicological properties of Aloe barbadensis (miller), Aloe vera
Wilson, Celeste. Isla Verde Spa Training Academy Certificate of Aromatherapy Course.
Wilson, Celeste. National Higher Certificate in Beauty Therapy. The Durban University of Technology.
Parts of this article first appeared in a piece I wrote for Remedy Grove in January 2022