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In a world where beauty fads come and go faster than you can say "sheet mask," aloe vera is as about as tried and true as they come. But according to a troubling new report from Bloomberg, your favorite skin salve might not contain any actual aloe vera. What the...?
Using an independent lab, Bloomberg tested four different generic aloe formulations: 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; and Walgreens Alcohol Free Aloe Vera Body Gel. Despite the names and the fact that aloe was listed at the tops of the ingredient lists, none of the products tested showed any traces of aloe barbadensis leaf juice—the technical term for the skin remedy. In fact, most of the products tested were totally bereft of aloe’s three chemical makers—acemannan, malic acid, and glucose—but instead contained a cheap dupe called maltodextrin, which is sometimes used as a substitute for the real deal.
As it turns out, the Food and Drug Adminstration doesn’t have a ton of regulatory power when it comes to cosmetic products, so there’s no one watching out to make sure products really contain what they claim to contain. For their part, the manufacturers have disputed Bloomberg’s findings. Still, independent experts cited in the article say the results suggest there likely isn't much aloe vera actually making its way onto shelves.
Before you panic, you should know that the imitation stuff probably isn’t harmful, according to the report. But if you’re a purist, you can always expand your succulent garden and opt to grow your own.