Bloomberg hired a laboratory to analyze four store-brand aloe vera gels that listed “aloe barbadensis leaf juice” as the first or second ingredient after water. These are the products they tested:
- Walmart Equate Aloe After Sun Gel with pure aloe vera
- CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel
- Target Up & Up Aloe Vera Gel with pure aloe vera
- Walgreens Alcohol Free Aloe Vera Body Gel
None of them had acemannan, a key component of aloe that is believed to give the plant its beneficial properties. The actual plant can contain up to 15% acemannan.
Aloe vera gels from Walmart, Target, and CVS contained a cheap sugar called maltodextrin that is sometimes used to imitate aloe.
Walgeens aloe vera contained one of three chemical markers for aloe — malic acid — but no other evidence, which means the presence of aloe could not be confirmed or ruled out.
Aloe vera gels are mostly used for medical reasons like soothing sunburns or irritated skin, but they are regulated as “cosmetics” by the FDA. The agency has never fined a manufacturer for selling fake aloe, according to Bloomberg.
After the scandal erupted last year, several class action lawsuits were filed for false advertising. Lawyers say many other products are also in violation — Fruit of the Earth 100% Aloe Vera Gel, GNC Aloe Vera Skin Gel, Walgreens Advanced Hand Sanitizer with Aloe, and more.
Fruit of the Earth is a Texas-based company that makes aloe vera gels for Walmart, Target, and Walgreens. The company said they use organic, fair-trade aloe from Guatemala. They disputed Bloomberg’s findings, but would not say how much aloe was actually in their gels.