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MISSING: Aloe Vera

We all know the feeling: crisped, crinkling skin tightening up as we get out of the shower and regret trusting the cloud cover that day on the beach. You begin to take on the shade of the lobsters you just left at the shoreline as you reach into the medicine cabinet for the only thing that can save you – the aloe vera gel.

There’s nothing quite like slathering aloe vera all over a burning, uncomfortable sunburn, but what exactly is in that bottle? Nobody really knows…

According to a report from Bloomberg News, samples of aloe vera gel products purchased at Walmart, Target, and CVS showed absolutely no trace of the plant in multiple lab tests, despite the fact that all of the products involved listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice, aka aloe vera, as either the first or second ingredient after water.

A lab hired by Bloomberg tested four gels: Walmart’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. A company called Fruit of the Earth made the gel products for Walmart, Target, and Walgreens.

The three chemical markers for aloe were absent in the products from Walmart, CVS, and Target, but instead held a much cheaper substance called maltodextrin. The product sold at Walgreens did have one marker for aloe, but not the other two, making the actual presence of aloe un-found.

The Consumerist asks the question, “how could this happen?” But the answer is simple – the FDA doesn’t approve cosmetics before they are supplied to stores, so it’s up to the suppliers to make good on their promises.

“You have to be very careful when you select and use aloe products,” Tod Cooperman, president of, which has done aloe testing, told Bloomberg.

Consumers have already taken note of this aloe vera controversy as several law firms have filed lawsuits against the retailers and Fruit of the Earth after separate tests showed a lack of the ingredient in the companies’ private label brands. They’re all seeking class action status and restitution for customers who they claim were misled.

“No reasonable person would have purchased or used the products if they knew the products did not contain any aloe vera,” attorneys wrote in a complaint filed in September in Illinois on behalf of plaintiffs represented by 10 law firms.

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