IF I had a penny for every time I get asked “why don’t you use Aloe Vera in your skincare products?” ……. i’d be rich!!
Here are my reasons:-
Reason 1 – While the fresh juice of the Aloe Vera plant is excellent for treating sunburn, acne, aging, stretchmarks etc, the truth of the matter is that unless you actually pull the leaf straight from the plant and squeeze the gel directly onto your skin, there are definitely preservatives added to it to keep it fresh. The gel starts to break down, and will go rancid fairly quickly. It therefore requires preservatives/parabens to maintain it’s integrity.
Reason 2 – According to EU Cosmetic Labelling Regulations, cosmetics ingredients lists do not have to declare “incidental ingredients.” Incidental ingredients refer to chemicals, such as preservatives, that are used to preserve individual ingredients as supplied (to the cosmetics maker) by the ingredient manufacturer. For example, if Company A sells aloe vera juice containing a paraben preservative to company B and company B uses the aloe vera juice in a face cream that is sold to consumers, Company B does not have to declare the paraben preservative that Company A added to the aloe vera juice on the label or anywhere else.
Cosmetics manufacturers are required only to list preservatives that they add to preserve the final, finished product! There may be ingredients in your product that are not on the label besides those lurking in well-known hiding places like “fragrance” or “parfum”. These are the so-called “incidental ingredients.”
Reason 3 – Aloe Vera is a juice, not a gel, that comes from a plant and juice goes off/rancid. Like water, aloe vera juice is a happy place for bacteria and needs to be formulated with a preservative to keep it from going off.
Aloe vera gel is created by mixing it with a thickening agent like xanthan gum and a preservative.
Aloe vera powder is soluble in water, which always needs a preservative!
Pure oil does not need a preservative, but aloe will not dissolve or mix in oil.
What this means is, no matter how you shake it, aloe needs a preservative. The only way you wouldn’t need to add a preservative is if you mix it with a super high concentration of alcohol, and then you definitely do NOT want to put that on your skin!!
Long Story Short – if you’re reading an ingredients list and you see aloe vera but no preservative, one (or a combination) of two things are true:
- The preservative (and possibly other additives) is there but hasn’t been disclosed; or
- This formula is not properly preserved. Please keep in mind that mold and other bacteria form before it’s visible to the human eye.
To be clear, this is NOT a slight on aloe. Aloe is a magical, medicinal plant with many healthy and helpful uses. I would suggest buying a good quality established plant or two and keep them at home for your own personal use! But that’s just my opinion.
I’ve taken a snapshot of ingredients listed on a “well known high street chain” of Aloe Soothing Day Cream. See how many you recognise? See the spreadsheet for a full breakdown of each one.
|Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer||To bind to both water and oil to create a smooth consistency , it is also used as a stabilizer, to increase the viscosity of a product and to form a film when applied topically.|
|Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice||Aloe vera from plant – needs a preservative to prevent it deteriorating and turning rancid|
|Avena Sativa Kernel Extract||Is an extract of the kernels of oats used as an Antioxidant; Skin-Conditioning Agent & an Emollient; Skin-Conditioning Agent – ABRASIVE|
|Bisabolol||Bisabolol is extracted from Chamomile and used as a skin conditioning agent, It allows other products to be well absorbed by the body following dermal application, due to which, it may also increase the dermal penetration of other chemical ingredients.|
|Butylene Glycol||Butylene glycol is a chemical compound derived from Petroleum — a colorless organic alcohol used as a solvent (helps other products dissolve in water), as a viscosity-decreasing agent (to thin creams and gels so they’re easier to use), and as a conditioning agent.|
|Cetearyl & Cetyl Alcohol||Cetearyl Alcohol is used in cosmetics as a stabilizer, to thicken an emulsion and keep it from separating, as a foaming agent, and contains emollient properties which leave skin soft and smooth. Although it’s true that it does enhance absorption of ingredients, however the alcohol also destroys the skin’s surface and the very substances that keep your skin healthy over the long term.|
|Cetearyl Glucoside||An emulsifier used in oil in water formulations. It helps skin and hair retain moisture, and gives a velvety after touch. Formed by the condensation of cetearyl alcohol (fatty acid) with glucose. It can be naturally derived (from coconut/corn oil) or chemically synthesized.|
|Cyclohexasiloxane & Cyclopentasiloxane||A Silicone – another skin conditioning agent and emollient. Like all other silicones, this ingredient has a unique fluidity that makes the product easily spreadable. When applied to the skin, it gives a silky & slippery feeling to the touch and acts a mild water repellent by forming a protective barrier on the skin. It can also fill in fine lines/wrinkles, giving the face a temporary “plump” look. While there’s no evidence pointing to the adverse effects of this ingredient on human life, low concentrations have been shown to harm aquatic life.|
|Disodium EDTA||A preservative, used to stabilise or to enhance the foaming action of the product. One reason NOT to use products containing Disodium EDTA, is because it is a ‘penetration enhancer’. Although it doesn’t absorb particularly well into the skin, it disrupts the surface of skin cells so that other chemicals can get in more easily – ie other chemicals in your product, and chemicals in your shower water, etc.|
|GLYCERIN||Glycerin is a humectant, designed to bring moisture in and retain it. SAFE as long as its naturally derived.|
|Isononyl Isononanoate||A SYNTHETIC skin conditioning agent and emollient|
|Lauric Acid||Lauric Acid is the main fatty acid in coconut oil as well as palm kernel oil. It is used in beauty products and skin care because of its moisturizing abilities, and is also recognized as an acne-fighter thanks to its anti-microbial properties Source. ** It is a known irritant and has potential carcinogenic properties.|
|Myristic Acid||A fatty acid found in nutmeg, palm oil, coconut oil, butter fat. It is used as a fragrance, emollient and as a lubricant, due to its high rate of absorption by the skin. Myristic Acid is highly comedogenic (tending to cause blackheads by blocking the pores of the skin). It means that if this ingredient is present in any product, it is very likely to cause pimples on acne prone skin. Even if your skin does not break out easily, you need be careful with products containing this ingredient.|
|Myristyl Alcohol||Myristyl Alcohol is a fatty acid alcohol used as an emollient in cosmetics and skin care products. According to research, it is primarily used to inhibit a formula from separating into its oil and liquid components. However, Myristyl Alcohol can be drying, as can most fatty-alcohols.|
|Myristyl Glucoside||Myristyl glucoside is a surfactant, meaning it breaks surface tension in liquids, allowing things to become clean. Derived from palm kernel oil, corn sugar, or coconut.|
|Myristyl Myristate||Myristyl Myristate is also used to improve the aesthetics of emulsions. It takes the emulsion from grey to bright white while giving it a smooth glossy appearance.|
|Palmitic Acid||Palmitic Acid is a fatty acid, it is used in beauty products and cosmetics for a variety of properties, including as a fragrance ingredient; cleansing agent; emulsifying agent; and emollient. It is approved for use up to 13% and is not considered a primary or cumulative irritant, nor sensitizer, although it does create foam and can be drying.|
|PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate||PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are commonly used as cosmetic cream bases. They are also used in pharmaceuticals as laxatives. It doesn’t easily degrade and can remain in the environment long after it is rinsed down the shower drain.|
|p-Anisic Acid||A natural plant acid with proven soothing effect to inflamed and irritated skin, it also helps to maintain the skin’s acid balance which increases protection against microbial infection.|
|Pentylene Glycol||A synthetic skin-replenishing agent and solvent. It is a mild irritant and can cause contact dermatitis in some people.|
|Sesamum Indicum Seed Oil||Sesame oil, is an effective natural skin treatment because it moisturizes and fights free radical damage to promote the production of collagen and elastin while also reducing the look of lines and wrinkles by preventing dryness|
|Sodium Hydroxide||Also known as lye, sodium hydroxide is a highly alkaline ingredient used in small amounts in cosmetics to establish and hold the pH of a product. It’s also used as a cleansing and denaturing agent. In high concentrations, it’s a significant skin sensitizer.|
|Stearic Acid||Stearic Acid is a fatty acid found primarily in animal derivatives, but in vegetable fats as well. It is used in a variety of cosmetics and personal care products, as a fragrance ingredient, surfactant and emulsifier.|
|Stearyl Alcohol||A fatty alcohol used as an emollient and thickener in skin-care products. Fatty alcohols are not irritating and, in fact, can be beneficial for dry skin.|
|Trideceth-6||This ingredient is a synthetic emollient and emulsion stabilizer. This ingredient may contain traces of Ethylene Oxide, which is a suspected carcinogen.|
|Xanthan Gum||A thickening agent. This natural thickener is also used to create a gel-like consistency in cosmetics and can be added to certain foods, like salad dressing.(Wiki). This thickening agent gets its name from the strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process, Xanthomonas campestris. Xanthan Gum is gluten-free.|