Contents - Click a link to skip to the section you want to read
- 1 What is aloe vera gel?
- 2 What are the benefits of aloe vera?
- 3 Best uses for aloe vera gel
- 4 Pure aloe vera gel: buyers guide
- 4.1 What does “pure” aloe vera gel mean?
- 4.2 Beware aloe vera products made from powders and concentrates
- 4.3 Cold-pressed aloe vera gel is best
- 4.4 Should there be other ingredients in organic aloe vera gel?
- 4.5 Country of origin
- 4.6 Is it cruelty-free?
- 4.7 What do you need it for?
- 4.8 Ease of use
- 4.9 Price
- 5 Aloe vera gel products reviewed
- 6 What is the best aloe vera gel?
If you’re already familiar with aloe vera, it may be because you spent too much time in the sun and required some soothing relief. But did you know that high-quality aloe vera gel actually has many practical uses and benefits beyond the cure for a bad burn?
We’re here to shed some light on this potent and purposeful plant product and help you decide which item or brand offers the best aloe vera gel option for you and your specific needs!
However, before we get to our reviews of the best aloe vera products on the market, we’d like to give you a thorough introduction to all things aloe.
So, if you’ve arrived here looking to buy aloe vera gel, you can rest assured that, by the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision.
Ready to get started?
What is aloe vera gel?
It’s been said that the very beginning is very good place to start, so let’s discuss where aloe vera gel comes from in the first place… none other than the aloe vera plant (“Aloe barbadensis” in Latin), also occasionally referred to as the “lily of the desert,” and during ancient times, the “plant of immortality.”
The aloe vera plant is a perennial succulent with yellow tubular flowers and green, fleshy leaves that boast finely pointed edges. The gel, specifically, is a clear, viscous substance that can be found inside these leaves, and it is considered safe by the FDA for topical use on skin and hair.
Note: Some products made from the whole crushed leaf actually contain both aloe gel and aloe latex, a yellow substance found just under the plant’s skin.
One time a suggested oral remedy for constipation, in 2002, the FDA required that all aloe laxative products be removed from the U.S. market (or reformulated) as there was not enough necessary safety data.
While our reviews do not include such items, always read labels and be mindful of the potential for any unregulated aloe products.
What are the benefits of aloe vera?
As mentioned, the benefits of topical aloe vera application extend much further than simply sunburn soothing.
This 2008 article, from the Indian Journal of Dermatology, details how aloe vera contains dozens upon dozens of potentially active constituents that provide immense nutritive and anti-inflammatory properties.
We’ve highlighted several about which we feel you’ll specifically want to know more!
Vitamins & Minerals
Did you know that aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, E (which are also antioxidants that neutralize free radicals), folic acid, and choline? It also provides calcium, chromium copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
The aloe vera plant contains 8 enzymes, one of which, bradykinase, helps to reduce excessive inflammation, while many of the others aid in breaking down sugars and fats.
Amino Acids and Fatty Acids
Aloe vera also provides 20 of the 22 amino acids required by humans (and 7 out of the 8 essential amino acids)! It also offers four plant sterols–cholesterol, campesterol, β-sisosterol and lupeol–which provide antiseptic properties and create additional anti-inflammatory activities.
Aloe vera consists of both monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides (glucomannans/polymannose). Within these, a glycoprotein with anti-allergic properties, called alprogen, and a novel anti-inflammatory compound, C-glucosyl chromone, has been recently isolated from the gel.
Aloe vera contains auxins and gibberellins, growth hormones that help in wound healing by stimulating collagen synthesis (and also have anti-inflammatory capabilities).
Best uses for aloe vera gel
Now that we know a lot more about aloe vera’s composition–the why behind its status as such a potent and powerful anti-inflammatory tool–let’s identify a few major ways we might use aloe vera gel on a daily basis that are also backed by scientific research.
We figured we’d lead off with this one, which you’re probably most familiar with.
Aloe vera gel is commonly known as the go-to substance for soothing bright red, sun-scorched skin as it (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) resumes its regular shade. And, if you apply it prior to UV exposure, it can offer a slight protective effect, too, but we’d always advise you to use a cruelty-free sunscreen in this instance.
Even if you’re not planning a trip to the beach any time soon, aloe vera gel is said to work wonderfully for those unexpected stove zaps while cooking and as a natural aftershave as well.
As mentioned, since aloe vera gel is packed with vitamins and stimulates collagen production, it’s ideal for helping cuts, scrapes, and bug bites, heal more quickly.
And if you’re here looking for the best aloe vera gel for face and skin use, there’s also evidence to suggest that aloe vera gel may impact more serious skin abrasions and chronic conditions from frostbite to acne and psoriasis.
Moisturizing and Anti-Aging
Even 100% aloe vera gel is mostly made of water, and so it’s a natural means of keeping your skin supple and looking youthful, impeding premature wrinkling and reducing the appearance of scarring. It also can help keep your scalp hydrated therefore decreasing the occurrence of dandruff.
Here’s one woman’s experience using pure aloe vera gel (straight from the leaf; we discuss below) on her face, specifically:
While there’s far more scientific research regarding the benefits of organic aloe vera gel as it pertains to the skin, there is evidence to suggest that (due to its high vitamin content, anti-inflammatory components, and collagen-producing abilities) aloe vera can be helpful in strengthening our hair as well.
At the very least, aloe vera efficiently removes oil and residue from other hair care products, but due to its natural status, it doesn’t harm your hair while it cleans, unlike many of the chemically-laden shampoos and conditioners that line the store shelves.
Pure aloe vera gel: buyers guide
At this point, if you’re thinking that aloe gel may be a worthy investment of your time and money, we’d like to offer you a specific guide to purchasing as a primer before we get to our aloe vera product reviews (coming up quickly!).
What does “pure” aloe vera gel mean?
Across many industries, you’ll find that companies will use non-scientific or non-regulated words to help boost a product’s image and feign the notion of higher quality. “Pure” is one such word in the world of aloe vera that brands will slap on their labels to increase (perceived) value, as well as “natural” aloe vera gel.
That being said, regardless of whatever impressive words you might see in big, bold caps, remain an avid label-reader and staunch company website-peruser. You only want to purchase a product that’s at minimum 99.75% aloe vera gel (ideally, organic and cold-pressed with the other .25% consisting of only food-grade natural preservatives; we’ll get to all of this soon).
Beware aloe vera products made from powders and concentrates
Just as you should be aware of the misuse of buzz words, we’d like to further warn you of using aloe vera products which come from powders and concentrates.
Well, the level of heat required in order to produce and process aloe vera concentrate reduces the effectiveness of bioactive constituents, which leaves the end result bearing scant resemblance to the nutritive wonder and anti-inflammatory powerhouse that is the real thing (or products that come darn close to its natural form).
Regarding powdered aloe vera gel products, not only are these sub-par when it comes to quality, but they may also contain allergic components. In a 2007 study by the journal Food Chemistry entitled “quality and authenticity of commercial aloe vera gel powders,” scientists obtained nine products from leading international suppliers and compared them to fresh aloe vera gel.
Testing showed that the quality of samples analyzed was very inconsistent and extremely poor (e.g. four samples showed a high degree of enzymatic degradation and bacterial fermentation), and at least one of the powdered samples was found to contain Aloin A at trace levels (which is a derivative of aloe latex).
Cold-pressed aloe vera gel is best
We hope it’s clear now that processing aloe vera at high temperatures creates negative consequences, and so, this brings us to a natural segue into our next point: real aloe vera gel that is cold-pressed is the best (by the way, each of our six products that we’ve reviewed below are cold-pressed)!
What is “cold-pressed” exactly?
Well, it means that the entire aloe vera gel production process–from the harvesting of raw material and filleting the leaf to the final steps of filtration–is operated without the application of heat, thus preserving its myriad healthful benefits (side note: yes, you want your olive oil to be cold-pressed, too).
Should there be other ingredients in organic aloe vera gel?
As mentioned, the highest quality organic aloe vera gel for face and hair–even those containing 99.75% organic aloe vera at minimum–will also contain a tiny portion of ingredients that act as preservatives. It is very important to understand that just because the aloe vera ingredient is an organic element, this does not necessarily mean that the other ingredients in the bottle are organic, too… or even naturally derived!
You’ll always want to ensure that the other ingredients in your aloe vera gel are natural and food-grade; though we aren’t consuming this aloe vera gel orally, we’re still absorbing it! In addition to ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and citric acid (also safe), two of the ingredients most commonly found in commercial aloe vera gel are xanthan and potassium sorbate.
What is xanthan?
Xanthan (sometimes called xanthan “gum”) is a complex exopolysaccharide produced by a plant bacterium, and it’s used commonly as a thickener, stabilizer or binding agent in both food and non-food industries.
Since we established that bacteria are non-sentient (and thus, vegan), as long as you don’t have a specific allergy, xanthan is quite harmless (when consumed in tiny doses).
However, xanthan can be derived from animal products (e.g. acid whey), and while we assure you the products we review below are 100% cruelty-free, be sure to do your homework.
What is potassium sorbate?
Potassium sorbate is a chemical additive used to preserve the shelf life of various foods (and other products across many industries) by halting the growth of mold.
It’s synthetically produced from sorbic acid and potassium hydroxide, and it’s deemed safe for use by the FDA (as it doesn’t accumulate in the body) up to 25 mg per kilogram of body weight per day.
While allergies do exist, few cases of intolerances have been reported, and these are much more common in response to cosmetics that contain the additive rather than due to its presence in food (or food-grade) products.
Country of origin
Aloe vera evolved in the Arabian peninsula (the name derives from the Arabic word, “Alloeh,” meaning, “shining bitter substance,” while “vera,” in Latin means, “true”), and it quickly spread from Asia to the Mediterranean by way of trade routes. In addition to its utility, the plant’s popularity grew due to its ability to thrive in a wide variety of temperatures (similar to kale) as long as it receives adequate sunshine.
In these modern times, aloe vera plants are primarily grown in states of the southwestern U.S. (such as Texas), Mexico and Central America, as well southeast Asia. Where your aloe comes from will be a matter of choice, but many will feel more comfortable purchasing a homegrown product.
Is it cruelty-free?
We must always ask ourselves this question, no matter the product in pursuit.
Unfortunately, many aloe vera brands (none that we’ve reviewed) do still test on animals, especially when it comes to gauging toxicity levels and effectiveness in treating burns (or a lack thereof; which they began doing as early as the 1940s)
Again, while it’s important to be a savvy sleuth when it comes to misleading labels and not-so-natural preservatives, please don’t forget about this important element of our cause, as well!
What do you need it for?
We realize that each of us might be in need of aloe vera gel for a different condition or purpose. For example, you may looking to buy aloe vera gel as a moisturizer as opposed to burn relief, while others might be more interested in aloe vera’s potential to reduce dandruff and strengthen their hair.
Since certain formulas will be better suited to different conditions, be sure to keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind as you browse potential brands (and pay close attention to our reviews)!
Ease of use
Since natural aloe vera gel can be lumpy and sticky, it’s important to find a product that’s easy to apply and will be readily absorbed by the skin. You’ll notice, in our aloe vera gel reviews, that we sometimes describe it as “watery.”
This is because the more natural a product (meaning, the fewer artificial thickening agents it contains), the thinner it’s going to be. If you haven’t yet checked out our recent reviews of natural vegan baby shampoo and body wash and/or vegan lubricants, you’ll find a similar trend with these products).
Reduced viscosity is especially important if you’re looking for the best aloe vera gel for face and hair application; the last thing you’ll want after applying your aloe vera products is a lingering stickiness or greasy complexion!
Here’s how one woman prepares her own aloe vera gel at home and fashions it to be more readily absorbed during application:
According to traditional logic, the higher the product’s quality, the more it should cost, and we highly consider this notion of overall value as we reviewed these products.
You’re going to find that many of these aloe vera gels are somewhat close in quality, and so, in this context, a defining factor, such as price (vs. portion size), carries even more weight than usual.
Aloe vera gel products reviewed
Now that we’ve determined why aloe vera gel is worth our while–and what’s most important when considering which aloe vera gel to buy–let’s take a peek at the brands we sampled and figure out which is the best aloe vera gel for you.
NaturSense aloe vera gel
Our first review is of NaturSense aloe vera gel. This 12 oz. bottle is 99.75% organic aloe vera gel (certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the USDA National Organic Program). We like that this company makes it very clear that remaining 0.25% of their product is dedicated to food-grade ingredients designed to make the gel spread more easily and last for up to 2 years without refrigeration.
Grown in the USA, we also appreciate that NaturSense mentions how the color and hue of aloe vera gel will shift based on the season in which it is cultivated and harvested (it’s lightest in the spring and darkest in the winter). Their gel is also “charcoal-filtered for purity,” which essentially means they’ve instituted an additional measure to decolorize the leaf and ensure any of the toxic constituents found in aloe latex have been removed.
When we applied this product, we found that it has a very thin consistency and dried almost immediately, which means that it’s readily absorbed. The thinness also means that only a very little bit of this product will go a long way. Some of us also found that this product, when compared to others on our list, is also fairly odorless. So, if you love aloe vera gel but aren’t a giant fan of the sensation or scent, then this may be an option for you.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Good absorbency
- Relatively odorless
- Transparency with ingredients
- Highly affordable, yet high quality
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- May be a little too “thin” for some
Earth’s Daughter Organic Aloe Vera Gel
Our next review is this aloe vera gel by Earth’s Daughter. Shipped in a 12 oz. bottle, this product is 99.75% organic, with no added color, fragrance or alcohol. We really appreciate how, on the bottle’s label, the company specifically warns consumers that many aloe vera gel manufacturers will make false or misleading claims regarding the purity of content; Earth’s Daughter offers total transparency.
Their Aloe Barbadensis is certified organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture, and we also like that Earth’s Daughter offers the consumer quick and conclusive reasons why each of the remaining .25% of their non-organic ingredients have been included. Items such as the aforementioned potassium sorbate (as a guard against bacteria) or Xanthan (to help the Aloe coat your skin better).
Even further, Earth’s Daughter mentions that they use an FDA certified laboratory to bottle their gel. They also lab test and date code each batch to assure freshness and safety.
As far as function, this aloe vera gel spreads easily and dries quickly, offering effective absorption without leaving the skin greasy or oily, so do keep this in mind if thickness and application sensation is of importance to you. Coming out of these winter months now, many of us are still suffering from dry skin, and you’ll notice an instant soothing sensation after using this gel.
Even more, others reported improvements with scarring and getting rid of dandruff. We’re already impressed by this product, but we also really appreciate that Earth’s Daughter offers a 60-day money-back guarantee if the consumer isn’t completely satisfied with his or her purchase. Big thumbs up for this one.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Easy to apply
- Dries quickly
- Instantly soothing
- Freshness and safety assured
- Transparency with ingredients
- Clear explanation of each ingredient’s purpose
- Money-back guarantee
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- Nothing at all!
Seven minerals aloe vera gel
This aloe vera gel from Seven Minerals comes in a 4 oz. bottle that sports a “USDA organic” label on the front. This product does not contain xanthan or potassium sorbate, and the company makes it clear that it must be refrigerated upon opening.
As a whole substance, this gel contains only five ingredients, including organic grapefruit seed extract, agar-agar (red algae), citric acid, and ascorbic acid. We also like that Seven Minerals mentions more than once that they offer a money-back guarantee, giving consumers a whole six months to test their products.
This product is effective on both hair and skin, relieving dryness and itching wherever applied, and one person has even reported a reduction in their wrinkles! As far as hair, users may see an improvement with dandruff and notice less hair loss after showering.
While some felt it too thin, and one reported an issue with “clumping,” in general, this aloe vera gel is like the others in that its natural state makes it thinner and more easily absorbed than the kind you’ll find that contain fillers and additives.
But, here’s what we really can’t overstate: this aloe vera gel is one of the most expensive products on our list. Their bottles are only a third of the size of some competing brands, yet it comes at a higher cost. In our humble opinion, this aloe vera gel doesn’t offer enough additional quality to merit such a hefty jump in price.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Works well for both skin and hair conditions
- Natural ingredients
- Pure aloe vera
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- Very expensive
- Requires refrigeration
Amara beauty aloe vera gel
Amara Beauty’s offering is another 99.75% organic aloe vera product. While it’s free of fragrance, chemicals, added color, and alcohol, this 8 oz. bottle contains .25% of the usual natural preservatives, such as citric acid, potassium sorbate, ascorbic acid, and xanthan.
As with many others on our list, some may find it a little “watery,” but we hope at this point, consumers understand that thickness is the trade-off for an all-natural, safe-to-apply skin product.
We can also report aid when it comes to both hair and skin ailments, namely improvements with facial acne, bug bites, general dryness and itchy scalps. While a few have felt a slight burning sensation when applied to the face, others experienced no such sensation and discovered it actually also functions nicely as a makeup and dirt remover. Additionally, some mention the gel’s smell was rather acidic, but most weren’t bothered by the aroma.
Amara Beauty offers a “Manufacturer’s Guarantee,” meaning they’ll give the consumer a full refund, no questions asked and no returns necessary, and while the product is reasonably priced and works well, for the level of quality, this 8 oz. portion is still a bit underwhelming compared to similar quality products that provide the consumer with an additional 4 oz. supply.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Easy to apply
- Works well on a number of conditions
- Packaging is straightforward and easy to understand
- Money back guarantee
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- Smaller size than some others on our list
- Slightly acidic smell, noticeable to some more than others
Green leaf naturals aloe vera gel
This 8 oz. bottle of aloe vera gel from Green Leaf Naturals is 99.75% organic. It, too, is free of all the bad stuff and contains .25% of natural preservatives (i.e., citric acid, ascorbic acid, potassium sorbate and xanthan). Additionally, this product comes from aloe vera plants in Texas (and, like Earth’s Daughter, it’s certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture).
One difference we found, is that Green Leaf Natural very much encourages DIY use with their products. Whereas some of the other company’s websites were focused centrally on commerce (with quite outdated content), Green Leaf Natural has a very active blog that includes more of this theme of using aloe vera for “lifestyle enhancement.”
The gel offers a pleasant, faint aloe smell and, like most products in our reviews, it’s thin and easily absorbed. However, it does seem to be just a tad thicker than the rest.
It’s great at easing immediate itchiness associated with dry skin and scalp patches, but it doesn’t offer the same moisturizing effect as some of the other brands. So, if you’re looking for an aloe vera gel with this as the primary aim, you might want to keep this in mind.
Although this is a smaller portion than provided by some of the competing brands, the price reflects this aspect (the company also offers 3.3, 12, and 16 oz. options, too. All of which are available via the link above).
Green Leaf Naturals also has a money-back guarantee in place and they offer a full refund or a replacement product.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Easily absorbed
- Pleasant smell
- Good range of sizes available
- Money back guarantee
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- Not as moisturizing as other brands
Seven minerals aloe vera gel (with seaweed)
Time for the second aloe vera gel from Seven Minerals on our list. This one is 99.75% aloe and also includes seaweed extract (as a natural thickener), citric acid (which helps stabilize pH), ascorbic acid (as a source of vitamin C), and potassium sorbate (provides mold prevention). So, even though this is an extremely high quality product, it is not quite as natural as the other Seven Minerals aloe vera gel that we reviewed (above).
However, this product is a bit thicker (due to the seaweed extract), which some will prefer. It also does not require refrigeration (due to the potassium sorbate), and offers the consumer a far larger amount for his or her dollar (not to mention, Seven Minerals actually offers a bulk option in this gel… 1 gallon!) So, again, these aspects might actually be preferable to some; it all depends on what you’re looking for in your aloe vera gel.
Although thicker and more “jelly-like” than its rivals, this aloe vera gel still isn’t “thick” by any means and absorbs quickly without leaving a sticky residue. It works well at reducing redness from sunburn and is perfect for use after shaving, and one user also mentioned relief from dry scalp.
As far as the smell, the seaweed extract is definitely noticeable, and if you’re not a fan of the aroma, it may even impinge, so please bear this in mind when considering this aloe vera gel.
WHAT WE LIKE:
- Seaweed extract will suit those with xanthan allergies
- Very absorbent
- Feels great on skin
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
- Seaweed extract has a distinct smell some may not get along with
- Thicker than other products, although some will prefer this
What is the best aloe vera gel?
Now that we’ve assessed each of our six products and brands, and stacked them up against one another based on our most important consumer criteria, we’d like to name Earth’s Daughter the best aloe vera brand on the market.
We’ve arrived at this conclusion for several reasons.
Firstly, with so many factors being similar, or even identical, across these brands and products–from where the aloe plants are grown to the amount and kind natural preservatives included to overall effectiveness on skin and hair conditions–we really had to take note of a traditional topic when it comes to consumption: product value. And by this, we specifically mean what you get for what you pay.
Earth’s Daughter offers an extremely high quality product in a well-sized bottle and at a fair price. It may not be the cheapest on our list but, all things considered, the value for money is exceptional.
Furthermore, in an industry notorious for making misleading claims regarding true organic status and natural state of products, we also value how Earth’s Daughter informs the consumer of this fact right on their bottle; in a world of profit-mongering, this transparency is truly refreshing and appreciated.
We’re so glad you came to us for assistance as you hunt for the best aloe vera gel for you! We hope this has been a helpful overview of options and information, and as always, leave us a comment below should you have any further questions!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention.
She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living. Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
Lisa lives in Sussex with her husband and their three-legged wonder dog, Mable.