The 10 Best Aloe Vera Gels of 2021, According to Dermatologists

Dermatologists’ favorite ways to soothe and care for irritated skin

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Sun Bum Cool Down Gel at Ulta

"The vitamin E-enriched gel is alcohol free and great for easing the pain of a sunburn."

Best Budget: Fruit Of The Earth Aloe Vera Gel at Walmart

"It's budget friendly enough to buy in bulk and comes in a massive 24-ounce size."

Best Organic: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel at Amazon

"In addition to being 99 percent aloe vera gel, it uses a natural ingredient as a thickener."

Best Natural: Bloomscape Hedgehog Aloe Plant at Bloomscape

"Go right to the source with this natural aloe plant."

Best for Acne: Badger Unscented Aloe Vera Gel at Vita Cost

"This aloe vera gel is simple and doesn't include ingredients that might cause someone to break out."

Best for Sensitive Skin: Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Gel at Green Leaf Naturals

"It leaves no sticky residue and it's okay for all skin types."

Best for Face: Holika Holika Aloe Soothing Gel at Amazon

"It absorbs into the skin fast and does not leave behind a sticky residue."

Best for Sunburns: COOLA ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion at Walmart

"To the product’s base of organic agave and aloe vera, Coola adds antioxidant and vitamin-rich enhancements."

Best Moisturizing: Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion at Ulta

"This one keeps skin from drying out because it has cottonseed oil, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil."

Best Drugstore: Jason Aloe Vera Gel at Amazon

"A budget-friendly drugstore option from a time-tested brand that's been around for more than six decades."

Why use aloe vera gel? According to dermatologists, it has tons of healing properties—and tons of applications for the whole body. “Aloe vera is a powerful plant,” explains Dr. Naana Boakye, dermatologist and owner of the New Jersey-based Bergen Dermatology. “It has various medical and cosmetic applications due to all the vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. Due to all these properties, the aloe vera gel is considered anti-inflammatory and [it has] antimicrobial properties.”

Aloe vera gel works for other skin irritations, and even as a natural hair gel. But most commonly, people look to it to soothe skin after too much sun exposure. “Since skin that is sunburned or has had a bit too much sun is very sensitive, I generally tell patients to look for moisturizing lotions or gels that contain pure aloe vera and to avoid any that have any irritating ingredients or are overly fragranced,” explains dermatologist Papri Sarkar. Products that are high in things like glycerin and allantoin will help your skin pull in water and keep it there.”

 With feedback from these and more dermatology pros, here are the best aloe vera gels.

Our Top Picks

01 of 10

Best Overall: Sun Bum Cool Down Gel

Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Gel

Courtesy of Ulta

Sun Bum’s Cool Down Gel is an ideal all-around pick: it’s reasonably budget friendly, alcohol free, and super moisturizing. The vitamin E-enriched gel is great for easing the pain of a sunburn and preventing peeling. You get healing tea tree oil in addition to the aloe. Fans also love this amazing product for relief for other everyday gripes like insect bites and dark under-eye circles.

02 of 10

Best Budget: Fruit Of The Earth Aloe Vera Gel

Fruit Of The Earth Aloe Vera Gel

Courtesy of Walgreens

This well-loved product gets five-star reviews for performance—but it’s budget friendly enough to buy in bulk. (In fact, despite its teeny price tag, it comes in a massive 24-ounce size.) This non-oily gel is 100 percent aloe vera, without alcohol or added fragrance. Like other aloe vera products, this Fruit of the Earth gel creates a protective barrier to keep skin moisturized without leaving behind any sticky residue.

03 of 10

Best Organic: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel

Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel

Courtesy of Amazon

Jill Canes, nurse practitioner and the founder of Face Forward Medical Aesthetics recommends Seven Minerals Aloe Vera Gel, and she’s far from alone: this is the number one bestseller in the category with close to 40,000 nearly perfect reviews. “In addition to 99 percent aloe vera gel, it uses a natural ingredient as a thickener—seaweed extract,” she says. “It's easily absorbed into the skin and does not leave a sticky residue.” It’s grown in Texas and harvested from freshly cut aloe leaves, not powder, so it’s one of the purest and strongest available.

04 of 10

Best Natural: Bloomscape Hedgehog Aloe Plant

Bloomscape Hedgehog Aloe Plant

Courtesy of Bloomscape

We’re not being cheeky here, but it’s the truth: there’s no more pure aloe vera option than the clear gel substance taken right from the plant itself, and we heard the experts recommend this route over and over. Dr. Wazir said, “It is best to use natural aloe vera gel from the leaf of an aloe vera plant.” Dr. Boakye agrees, “To be honest, my motto is to go right to the source and to use less processed products. I would purchase the plant and use the gel.” So consider purchasing a live plant and extract your own natural gel when needed.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Best for Acne: Badger Unscented Aloe Vera Gel

https://www.vitacost.com/badger-unscented-fair-trade-certified-aloe-vera-gel?

Courtesy of VitaCost

This affordable gel contains 96 percent aloe. “This one is simple and doesn't include ingredients that might break someone out,” Dr. Sarkar says. “It's also unscented so it's less likely to cause irritation for those who are sensitive to fragrance. Like all aloe vera gels, I recommend putting this in the fridge, so you can put it on cold so it's even more soothing.”

06 of 10

Best for Sensitive Skin: Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Gel

Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Gel

Courtesy of Green Leaf Naturals

Use this thin aloe vera gel formula for face, body—even hair. It leaves no sticky residue and it’s okay for all skin types. And since it doesn’t contain latex, it’s safe for pets, too. “The Green Leaf Naturals Aloe Vera Gel has 99.75 percent aloe vera gel and is free of chemicals or thickeners,” Canes explains. “It's very lightweight and gets absorbed by the skin quickly.”

07 of 10

Best for Face: Holika Holika Aloe Soothing Gel

Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel

Courtesy of Ulta

This fan-favorite product has many desirable features: it’s affordably priced, 99 percent pure aloe, and a great head-to-toe option that works equally well for face and body. “Oily/combo skin here [and] this is the first moisturizer I’ve used that didn't make my skin more oily or cause a breakout,” one reviewer notes. “I use it morning and night after washing my face. It’s been perfect for moisturizing and also any time my skin feels irritated.” The gel isn't organic and does have a fragrance, but it is free from chemicals such as parabens, mineral oil, propylene glycol, alcohols, and artificial colors. It also contains natural extracts from plants such as watermelon, bamboo, corn, and cucumber.

08 of 10

Best for Sunburns: COOLA ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion

COOLA ER+ Radical Recovery After-Sun Lotion

Courtesy of Sephora

For sunburn—as well as any other dryness or redness—fans love this ultra-moisturizing lotion made with organic aloe vera and lavender oil. To the product’s base of organic agave and aloe vera, Coola adds antioxidant and vitamin-rich enhancements, including rosemary extract, lavender oil, sunflower oil, mandarin peel, and cedarwood. It contains no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Best Moisturizing: Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion

Sun Bum Cool Down Hydrating After Sun Lotion

Courtesy of Amazon

Sun Bum’s after-sun lotion is made with aloe and vitamin E for serious hydration in a non-greasy formula that absorbs easily. It’s also alcohol free so it’s non drying. “This one keeps the skin from drying out because it has cottonseed oil, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil,” Dr. Sarkar says. “I wouldn't use it in acne prone areas or the first few days of a sunburn, but for patients without a predisposition to acne and prone to dryness, this is a good choice.”

10 of 10

Best Drugstore: Jason Aloe Vera Gel

Jason Aloe Vera Gel

Courtesy of Walmart

Reviewers love this budget-friendly drugstore option, from a time-tested brand that’s been around for more than six decades. Fans say it is non-greasy and absorbs quickly. The 98 percent aloe product comes in a 4-ounce tube. “This one is primarily aloe vera gel, and it's not sticky but still soothing on the skin,” Dr. Sarkar notes. “It contains allantoin, panthenol, and glycerin to help rehydrate your skin.”

Final Verdict

Sun Bum’s Cool Down Gel (view at Ulta) is our best all-around pick: It’s affordable enough to keep plenty of inventory on hand around the house and effective enough to make a major difference for skin irritations—sunburns and beyond.

What to Look For in Aloe Vera Gel

Order of Ingredients

First and foremost, dermatologists recommend looking at the ingredient list in an aloe vera gel. This may sound obvious, but make sure the first ingredient is indeed aloe vera gel. “Ingredients are usually listed in order of concentration so you want to make sure you're getting a high percentage of aloe vera,” Canes advises.

Added Ingredients

Scan the ingredient list for alcohol, which Dr. Wazir doesn’t recommend because it dries out the skin. Further, she recommends, searching the list for added fragrances, and “avoid buying gels with synthetic fragrances,” which may contain parabens and phthalates.

Aloe Vera Percentage

Canes recommends that aloe vera gel products contain more than 70 percent gel. “There’s no such thing as 100 percent aloe vera gel because it does require some additional ingredients to maintain its shelf life, but the higher the better to ensure there are no other additives,” Canes says.

Color

Ideally, Canes recommends, you’ll choose an aloe vera gel that is clear. “Often, colored or bright green aloe vera gel contains many other additives to give it its color and fragrance,” she says. Dr. Wazir echoes the sentiment. “Aloe vera gel with a bright green color contains artificial colors,” she says. “Pure aloe vera gel is transparent.” So a good rule of thumb is the clearer the purer.

Shelf Life

Dr. Wazir also suggests looking for a product with shorter shelf life. While that might sound counterintuitive, she explains, “Shorter shelf life means a purer product.”

FAQs

How often should you apply aloe vera?

For sunburn, Canes recommends applying aloe vera gel at least twice per day. Wazir recommends a slightly different usage protocol for other skin concerns: apply it to the “affected area of the skin [such as] acne, eczema, or sunburn after cleansing it,” she says. “It can also be applied to the whole face and neck before bed.”

How should aloe vera be stored?

You can store aloe vera gel at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Storing aloe vera gel in the fridge will make it feel extra cooling when it hits sunburned skin.

Can you use aloe if you have sensitive skin?

Probably. But if you’re feeling unsure, ”do a patch test before you apply aloe vera to your sunburn to make sure you don't have any adverse reactions to the gel,” Canes advises.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Alesandra Dubin has fair skin and enjoys extended time in the sun at home in Los Angeles and during her frequent travels—and occasionally overdoes it. She’s also especially prone to intense reactions to bug bites, which contributes to her further experience with aloe vera gel over many years of experimentation.

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