The best aloe vera gel

Jennifer Blair

If you’ve ever gotten a burn in the kitchen or spent too much time in the sun, you’ve probably heard about the virtues of aloe vera gel. Derived from a plant, it is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and other ingredients that help moisturize and calm the skin and even prohibit bacterial growth.

Choosing an aloe vera gel for your medicine cabinet can be difficult, though. You have to decide between aloe vera gel and juice and also figure out the percentage of aloe vera you want, among other factors.

The following tips will help you choose the best aloe vera gel for your needs. If you’re hoping for an option that works without leaving a sticky residue behind, Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel has been a fan favorite for years because it’s made from 100% pure aloe and absorbs quickly into the skin.

What to know before you buy aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel vs. aloe vera juice

Aloe vera gel comes from the part of the aloe part that’s most widely used, but aloe vera juice is also extracted. Aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice aren’t the same, so it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

Aloe vera gel is thick and somewhat tacky. It contains a high percentage of water and vitamins A, B, C and E. Aloe vera juice is the yellow sap that surrounds the gel inside the plants’ leaves. It also contains many vitamins that have health benefits.

Aloe vera gel is usually applied topically, while aloe vera juice is usually taken orally. As such, it doesn’t really improve your skin’s health but may benefit your overall health, such as reducing joint pain, boosting your immune system or reducing cholesterol levels.

Aloe vera gel benefits and uses

Aloe vera gel offers moisturizing, soothing and antibacterial properties for the skin, so there are plenty of ways to use it.

  • Burns: The most common way to use aloe vera gel is to treat burns, including sunburn. It helps cool the skin, reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Moisturizer: Aloe vera gel can work well as a moisturizer for dry skin. It doesn’t block the pores or leave behind a greasy residue and can even serve as a makeup primer.
  • Acne: Aloe vera gel’s antibacterial properties make it an effective acne treatment. It can help with both existing and future breakouts.
  • Wounds: Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make aloe vera gel an effective treatment for wounds. You can spread a thin layer on cuts, scrapes, blisters and other injuries.

Aloe vera gel features

Percentage of aloe vera

You may see some aloe vera gels that claim they are 100% aloe vera, but even gels made from pure aloe vera contain other ingredients to help prevent the gel from liquefying. High-quality gels typically offer at least 95% aloe vera, but the best formulas feature 98% to 99%.


Aloe vera can break down quickly, so mass-produced gels usually contain a preservative to help prolong their shelf life. The preservatives should be non-irritating, though, so look for aloe vera gels that use potassium sorbate, citric acid, ascorbic acid or vitamin E.


When it’s first extracted, aloe vera gel is fairly thick and sticky, but it breaks down into a thin gel quickly. Most formulas contain a thickener to give a better consistency. The best thickeners for aloe vera gel are seaweed extract, guar gum, agar and xanthan gum.

Even with a thickener, there’s some variation among aloe vera gels in terms of consistency. However, a gel’s performance isn’t affected by how thick or thin it is, so it’s more a matter of personal preference.


Aloe vera gel is mostly scentless on its own and is purest when it doesn’t contain any artificial fragrance. However, you can find some gels that use natural fragrances from essential oils like lavender, jasmine or citrus to give a pleasant fragrance – and even provide some benefits for your skin.


Some aloe vera gels contain additional moisturizing ingredients so they’re as hydrating as possible. Make sure that there aren’t too many extra ingredients, though, and stick to natural moisturizers like cucumber extract, manuka honey or fruit stem cell extract.


Cold-pressed aloe vera gel is usually of higher quality because no heat is used to extract the gel from the plant. Heat can degrade the vitamins and other beneficial ingredients, which lowers the gel’s quality.


Most aloe vera gels come in a plastic tube or bottle. Some larger bottles feature a pump to make the gel easier to dispense.

Aloe vera gel cost

Aloe vera gel is usually pretty affordable. You’ll typically pay $10-$20 for 8-12 ounces of aloe vera gel. However, you should avoid gels that cost less than $10 because they often contain less than 95% aloe vera gel.

Aloe vera gel FAQ

Is it possible to have a reaction to aloe vera gel?

A. Aloe vera is generally very gentle and soothing, so it’s unlikely to cause an allergy or reaction. However, if your skin is highly sensitive, it’s possible you may experience some irritation. Rinse off the gel and stop using it immediately if you notice any burning, stinging, itching or redness.

How sticky is aloe vera gel?

A. Aloe vera gel can sometimes feel a little sticky when it’s first applied, but it dries down without any tackiness. It even layers well under makeup or other skincare products.

Which aloe vera gel should I get?

Best of the best aloe vera gel

Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel: available at Amazon

Our take: A pure formula that features fresh, organic ingredients and can provide many benefits for your skin.

What we like: Features 100% pure aloe that’s harvested in the USA. Also contains seaweed extract to help the gel absorb more easily. Works well to treat burns and wounds and as an overall skin treatment.

What we dislike: Isn’t the best option for sensitive skin.

Best bang for your buck aloe vera gel

Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel: available at Amazon

Our take: An excellent soothing option for sun-damaged skin that needs some help healing.

What we like: Doesn’t contain any alcohol or artificial colors to limit skin irritation. Soothes sunburn extremely well. Effective for moisturizing dry skin. Even works well to reduce frizzy hair.

What we dislike: The bottle’s cap is prone to breaking.

Honorable mention aloe vera gel

Sky Organics Cold-Pressed Aloe Vera Gel: available at Amazon

Our take: An extremely lightweight aloe vera gel that works well for daily use. 

What we like: Has a soothing, refreshing feel on the skin. Contains vitamin C for its antioxidant properties. Doesn’t contain any artificial colors or fragrances. Formula is 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

What we dislike: Has a somewhat thin consistency, so it can make a mess.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.