Best Aloe Vera Gels

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best aloe vera gels

Nature’s pharmacy is full of plants that provide an amazing array of health benefits and treatments. One such plant is aloe vera, a succulent native to the Middle East, although it’s now cultivated around the world, particularly in dry climates.

Well-known for its ability to soothe sunburned skin, aloe vera has many other health benefits as well. It contains natural antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and compounds that prevent the growth of bacteria. It is a natural moisturizer that refreshes even sensitive skin, and it can also be used to boost the shine and health of your hair.

Before you buy and use an aloe vera product, it helps to know some things about it. For example, is the product you’re considering a gel or a juice? While both can be effective, they are generally used for different purposes. You will also want to find out the percentage of aloe vera in the gel, which other ingredients are included in the gel, and how much you should expect to pay to get an effective product.

To simplify your buying decision, we researched aloe vera gels and created this handy guide.

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Be sure that aloe vera is the first ingredient on the label, not water. The best aloe vera gels contain no added water at all.

Key considerations

Aloe vera gel vs. aloe vera juice

While aloe vera gel is the most commonly used product of the aloe vera plant, many people also make use of aloe vera juice, which is the yellow sap surrounding the gel inside the plant’s leaves. When buying aloe vera, it’s important not to assume the juice and the gel are interchangeable.

The thick, slightly sticky, gloopy gel is found inside the aloe vera leaves and consists mostly of water, though it also contains vitamins A, B, C, and E as well as other natural plant compounds. Aloe vera juice is the yellowish sap that surrounds the gel underneath the leaf surface. Like the gel, aloe vera juice is loaded with vitamins and various plant compounds that can benefit your health.

Unlike aloe vera gel, which is most often applied topically, aloe vera juice is generally consumed as a healthful, albeit unpleasant-tasting, drink. While there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence backing them up, claims for the benefits of aloe vera juice include:

  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved digestive health
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Improved immune system function
  • Reduced systemic inflammation

Benefits of aloe vera gel

With its natural antibacterial, moisturizing, and soothing properties, aloe vera gel is loaded with health and beauty benefits.

Burns: One of the most common uses of aloe vera gel is the treatment of sunburn and other superficial burns. Applying a thick coating of the cooling gel two or three times per day brings quick relief to burned skin, reduces pain and inflammation, and helps prevent infection.

Acne: Smooth a light coating of aloe vera gel over your face or other acne-prone areas once or twice a day. The gel helps heal existing pimples while reducing the development of further blemishes.

Moisturizer: A light application of aloe vera gel helps moisturize dry skin without blocking pores or feeling greasy. It’s especially good as a makeup primer.

Aftershave: Smooth aloe vera gel over freshly shaved skin to prevent irritation or shaving “burn.”

Wounds: Aloe vera’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help heal minor cuts, blisters, and other skin damage quickly and without infection.

Anti-aging: Aloe vera gel contains vitamins C and E, both of which help reduce fine lines, discoloration, dullness, and other signs of aging.

Rub a dab of aloe vera gel onto swollen or sore gums twice per day to help heal the inflammation and pain of gingivitis and other gum disease.

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Features

While there are many brands of aloe vera gel on the market, not all are worth your money. Examine these features when choosing the best aloe vera product.

Percentage: Many aloe vera gel products claim to contain 100% aloe vera gel, but that’s not exactly true. While the product may indeed be made from pure aloe vera gel, it must also contain other ingredients to stabilize the gel. Otherwise, it would quickly degrade into runny liquid. Look for a gel that contains at least 95% aloe vera and preferably 98% to 99% aloe vera.

Preservatives: Because pure aloe vera gel quickly degrades, most commercial gels include some type of preservative. Commonly used preservatives that are considered safe and non-irritating include citric acid, potassium sorbate, vitamin E, ascorbic acid, and radish-root ferment.

Thickeners: Fresh aloe vera gel is thick and somewhat sticky, but it quickly breaks down into a thin gel. That’s why most commercial products contain a thickener. Safer choices include agar, guar gum, seaweed extract, and xanthan gum.

Fragrance: Aloe vera gel has no strong odor of its own and is best without any added chemical fragrances. However, there are products with added essential oils such as lavender, lemongrass, citrus, or jasmine that provide fragrance and additional skin-soothing benefits.

Moisturizers: While aloe vera is a common ingredient in facial and body moisturizers, particularly organic and vegan products, if you are looking for a gel to use as a healing skin soother rather than as a moisturizer, it’s best to stick with as few extra ingredients as possible. Some good additional moisturizing ingredients include manuka honey, cucumber extract, and fruit stem cell extract.

Thickness: Most commercial aloe vera gels have added thickeners to prevent the gel from liquefying, but some brands are still runnier than others. You can sometimes tell how thick the gel is by shaking the container. Many brands indicate the thickness or thinness of the gel right on the container. The effectiveness of the gel isn’t influenced by its thickness or runniness, so it’s merely a matter of personal preference as to how thick of a gel you choose.

Cold-pressed: Many of the best aloe vera gels are cold-pressed, which means the gel was extracted from the leaves without the use of heat. (Heat can break down the plant’s natural vitamins and other beneficial compounds.

Container: Typically, aloe vera gel is packaged in plastic tubes or bottles. Larger bottles often have a pump top. Your choice of container is entirely a matter of preference. If you’ll be toting the gel to the beach or gym, you might find a tube easier to manage. If you’ll be using the gel regularly to soothe irritated skin or maintain your skin at home, a larger bottle would probably be more convenient.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Aloe vera gel can be used to reduce dandruff. Apply it to your scalp two or three times per week, let it sit for half an hour or so, and then shampoo as usual to reduce dandruff and other scalp inflammation.
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Aloe vera gel prices

Aloe vera gel isn’t very expensive, so there’s no reason not to have a tube or bottle on hand in case of sunburn or other skin irritation. A bottle containing 8 to 12 ounces of pure aloe vera gel generally costs between $10 and $20. Watch out for products that cost much less than that, as there might not be 95% or more pure aloe vera gel in the formula.

Aloe vera gel is colorless on its own. If an aloe vera gel product has a green tint, it signifies that color was added to the product.

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Tips

You can use aloe vera gel to make an effective hand sanitizer that will kill most germs, including viruses, and it’s easy to do. While it’s the alcohol that actually fights germs, the aloe vera gel protects your skin from irritation and adds some thickness to the sanitizer.

You’ll need:

  • 2/3-cup of rubbing alcohol with at least 70% alcohol
  • 1/3-cup of aloe vera gel
  • Your favorite essential oil, such as lavender, citrus, or peppermint

Combine the rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel in a clean plastic or glass jar, and shake well to mix thoroughly. Add a few drops of essential oil until the fragrance is to your liking, and shake again.

Use the sanitizer whenever you’re out and about and cannot easily wash your hands with soap and water.

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Many brands of aloe vera gel use organic ingredients, meaning the aloe was grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment and your skin. Choose an organic brand for the purest ingredients.

FAQ

Q. Does aloe vera gel have an odor?

A. Fresh aloe vera sap, a yellowish juice that surrounds the gel inside the leaves, can have a pungent odor somewhat reminiscent of onions or sweat, but the gel itself is nearly odorless. It’s best to choose an aloe vera gel without unnecessary fragrance, although some products formulated with essential oils may smell like that oil.

Q. Can I use aloe vera gel on my pets?

A. Furry friends can benefit from aloe vera gel’s soothing properties. Note that you should only use aloe vera gel on your pet, not aloe vera juice or fresh aloe vera leaves, as the sap can be toxic to cats and dogs.

You can use aloe vera gel to treat hot spots, skin irritations, sunburn, or other inflammation on your dog or cat’s skin. Make sure your pet doesn’t consume the gel through licking, however, as excessive consumption could cause diarrhea or other digestive system upset.

Q. Is aloe vera gel sticky?

A. Once dry, pure aloe vera gel isn’t sticky or tacky, making it an excellent product to use underneath makeup or other complexion-improving products or on skin in need of soothing. It’s also an effective aftershave, helping to prevent razor burn, ingrown hairs, and other annoying irritations. Just smooth a thin coating over your freshly shaved face, legs, underarms, or wherever else you need it, wait a couple of minutes for the gel to dry, and then go ahead and get dressed. The gel won’t stain your clothing or create wet spots once it’s dry.

Q. Is it possible to be allergic to aloe vera gel?

A. While it would be very unusual to have an allergy or bad reaction to aloe vera gel, some people have skin that is more sensitive than others, so if you experience redness, itching, burning, or stinging after applying aloe vera gel, rinse it off as soon as possible, and discontinue the use of the gel.

 

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