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Your Aloe Vera Gel May Not Contain Any Aloe At All

Equate Aloe Sunburn Relief Gel
November 28, 2016 Reviewed by Marta 2 Comments

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you submitted your personal care or beauty products to lab testing? Would you find that the contents were indeed as described by the manufacturer? Or that the most fundamental claims about the ingredients were false? Well, that’s what Bloomberg News did and they found that major drugstore chains, including Walmart and CVS, were aloe-washing.

Aloe vera gels sold by Target, Walmart and CVS were found by an independent lab contracted by Bloomberg News to contain no aloe whatsoever. And a fourth by Walgreen contained an amount too small to call either way. The three aloe gels found to contain no chemical markers of aloe were Walmart Equate Aloe After Sun Gel, CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel and Target Aloe Vera Gel. The one by Walgreens, the Aloe Vera Replenishing Body Gel, had one aloe chemical marker. Cosmetic Design, a trade publication, has said that the three drugstore chains found with aloe-free products are expected to face class action claims.

I took a look at these products — with the exception of Target’s since it doesn’t publish the ingredients on the website — and they are all, as you can see below, remarkably similar. They all proclaim aloe in the name of the product and aloe is listed as either the first or second ingredient. So a consumer could be forgiven for thinking that they were buying something that actually contained aloe.

The similarity of the ingredients lists also reveals another industry trick: white labeling. This is where brands get a ready made product from a manufacturer and slap their own label on it. In the past, Truth In Aging has exposed some of the product twins that can go by different names and even very different price points. See my article Are You Paying Double for the Exact Same Product?

In the aloe case, all these products are made for these big drugstore brands by Fruit of the Earth, which, unsurprisingly, has its own-branded, remarkably similar “aloe” gel product. I’ll be keeping an eye on aloegate as I wonder if any more beauty products will come under the microscope.

Walmart Equate Aloe After Sun Gel Ingredients
Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Polysorbate-20, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Benzophenone-4, Blue #1, Yellow #5, Fragrance.

CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel Ingredients
Aloe Vera Gel, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea.

Walgreens Aloe Vera Replenishing Body Gel Ingredients
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Water, SD Alcohol 40, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Benzophenone 4, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Fragrance, Yellow 5, Blue 1

Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera 100% Gel Crystal Clear Ingredients
Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Gel, Triethanolamine, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Carbomer 940, Tetrasodium EDTA, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea

  • November 29, 2016

    by Chris

    Jane:

    Consumers should look for products bearing the International Aloe Science Council seal.

    However, some products contain IASC certified gel, but have not filed the paperwork with the council in order to get permission to print the seal on the product packaging.

    Most products list an 800 number on the package and a consumer can phone and find out quickly if the aloe used in a product is in fact certified by the IASC.

  • November 29, 2016

    by Jane

    Consumers who are concerned about whether aloe vera products are authentic can look for aloe products that have the certification seal of the International Aloe Science Council (IASC). Products that bear the IASC seal are produced with aloe vera that meets the quality and purity standards of the IASC and are manufactured in facilities inspected by the IASC for adherence to good manufacturing practices. A list of products certified by the IASC is available at www.iasc.org under the "Certification" tab.

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