Health & Wellness

Investigation finds no trace of aloe vera in popular aloe vera gels

That soothing aloe vera gel you bought to moisturize and heal your skin might be missing a key ingredient: the aloe vera.

Bloomberg News recently hired a lab to test store-brand gels sold at Wal-Mart, Target and CVS. All listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice as either the top or second ingredient, but when the lab tested the products, none showed the chemical markers of aloe, the news outlet reported.

“The three samples contained a cheaper element called maltodextrin, a sugar sometimes used to imitate aloe,” Bloomberg News noted.

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The products tested included: Wal-Mart’s Equate Aloe After Sun Gel with pure aloe vera; Target’s Up & Up Aloe Vera Gel with pure aloe vera; CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel.

The lab also tested Walgreens Alcohol Free Aloe Vera Body Gel, which showed one of three aloe chemical markers. That means “the presence of aloe can’t be confirmed or ruled out,” an independent industry consultant told Bloomberg News.

Fruit of the Earth, the company that makes the gels for Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens, and its supplier, Concentrated Aloe Corp., both disputed the results. Product Quest Manufacturing, which makes the gel for CVS, declined to comment to Bloomberg.

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Spokesmen for Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens told the outlet that their suppliers confirmed “their products were authentic.” Target declined to comment.

Aloe is commonly smoothed on skin as a remedy for burns, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores. Some people also ingest it to relieve osteoarthritis, bowel diseases and fever. Does it actually work? There’s not enough evidence to show whether aloe vera is helpful, the government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health noted.

There’s no watchdog to assure aloe products meet any standards or actually contain aloe, Bloomberg News noted.

“When selecting an aloe product, you need to choose carefully,” warned the website ConsumerLab.com, a New York-based company that has been testing aloe products. “Only 50% of the aloe products selected for testing and review contained what was expected. Some had little or no aloe.”

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