Aloe Vera Gel Bought At Walmart, Target, CVS Might Not Actually Contain Aloe Vera

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There’s nothing quite like slathering aloe vera all over a burning, uncomfortable sunburn. But does that aloe vera gel on the drugstore shelf actually contain any aloe vera?

Perhaps not, according to an in-depth report from Bloomberg News that says samples aloe vera gel products purchased at Walmart, Target, and CVS showed no trace of the plant in multiple lab tests. This, 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, and instead contained a cheaper substance called maltodextrin. A product sold at Walgreens did have one of the markers, but not the other two, so the presence of aloe can’t be confirmed or ruled out

How could this happen? Simple: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve cosmetics before they hit the shelves, so it’s up to suppliers to make good on their promises. As such, there government has never fined a company for selling fake aloe.

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

Target declined to comment to Bloomberg, while Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens Boots Alliance and their suppliers confirmed that their products were authentic aloe products. Fruit of the Earth and its supplier also disputed the report.

Consumers have already taken note of this aloe vera controversy: several law firms have filed lawsuits against the four 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.

The retailers and Fruit of the Earth have denied the allegations.

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