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The sunburns and bug bites that come after a beach or hiking trip are never fun. But luckily, you can soothe your skin with a generous slather of aloe vera gel, which alleviates itching, redness, and dryness. Aloe vera plants are full of antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, as well as glycoproteins that reduce inflammation and prevent skin from peeling. Besides treating skin affected by harmful environmental factors, aloe vera can also be used to soothe chronic skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.
Since aloe vera gel is something that you put on your body, it's important to do your research before you buy. In general, products that are labeled organic, cold-pressed, and fragrance-free are your safest bets for avoiding irritation. "Organic" means the plants are grown and manufactured without dangerous chemicals and pesticides. "Cold-pressed" refers to the process of removing fibers without the use of heat, which allows the gel to retain its nutrients and natural components. And "fragrance-free" means the product is free of artificial scents that can dry or irritate the skin.
In this guide, we run through a range of different aloe vera gel products for different skin types, conditions, and budgets.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Majestic Pure Aloe Vera Gel
Majestic's Aloe Vera Gel contains 99.7% natural cold-pressed aloe vera, with no color, fragrance, or alcohol. It's also cruelty-free, vegan, certified organic, and grown and made in California. You can use the aloe vera to soothe and treat itchy, dry, sunburnt, or irritated skin, or put it on your cuticles and hair for a healthy shine. The gel from Majestic is also a more watery consistency that many commercial gels because it is free of filler chemicals.
While not the least expensive item on this list, the bottle does come with a generous amount of 16 ounces of product for $18, so you can easily share it with friends and family on your next trip. It also has a pump for easy dispensing.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel
This product from Seven Minerals consists of 99% organic aloe vera, also including citric acid for balancing skin pH, potassium sorbate and ascorbic acid for preservation, and seaweed extract for thickening. The vitamin C helps brighten your complexion and accelerates the healing process for conditions like burns and bug bites. The preservatives, which are food-safe, are included for a guaranteed two years of freshness without refrigeration required. The unique ingredient here is seaweed extract. Most gels use xanthan or carbomer as a thickener, but seaweed is more natural and dries quicker. When the gel dries, it won't feel gooey or sticky.
Best Budget: Fruit Of The Earth Aloe Vera 12 oz Gel Pump (2-Pack)
Fruit of the Earth is a great budget-priced aloe vera gel that does its job to soothe sunburned or irritated skin. While it isn't organic, the product consists of 100% aloe vera extract with no alcohol, fragrance, or artificial colors. Plus, it won't leave a dent in your budget. This gel comes in a pack of two 24-ounce pump bottles that will last you well beyond your summer vacation, soothing bug bites and irritation year round. Like all aloe vera products, this Fruit of the Earth gel creates a protective barrier to keep skin moisturized without leaving behind any sticky or oily residue.
While it receives positive reviews and is very affordable, this gel does, in fact, include some extra additives in its ingredients list that aren't necessarily the best for sensitive skin. It is excellent for treating incidental skin problems but is not necessarily something that you want to put on your face every day as a daily moisturizer.
Best Spray: Earth's Daughter Organic Aloe Vera Hydra Mist With Cucumber Oil Bundle
Earth's Daughter Organic Aloe Vera Hydra Mist comes in a convenient spritz bottle. It is 99.8% organic and consists of all-natural ingredients — there are no added chemicals or thickeners and it is not diluted with water. It's also free of added colors, fragrance, and alcohol, which can harm the skin after sun exposure. It does, however, include cucumber oil for extra soothing on bites and sunburns. As an aloe vera product, it spreads easily, dries fast, and never feels greasy. This set comes with two bottles, one with eight fluid ounces, and another with two fluid ounces. You can leave one on your bathroom counter and the other in your travel bag for on-the-go spraying. To keep the mist fresh, Earth's Daughter recommends storing it in the fridge.
Besides being a great summer travel item, Earth's Daughter Aloe Vera Mist also comes in handy as a beauty product. It keeps the face refreshed without causing makeup to run and works as a cleansing facial toner.
Best for Sensitive Skin: NaturSense Organic Aloe Vera Gel
NaturSense's Organic Aloe Vera Gel comes from a cold-pressed aloe leaf extract that is also charcoal-filtered. The result is a very pure gel. The product consists of 99.75% organic aloe vera with the other 0.25% being food-grade preservatives to keep the gel fresh. It's also cruelty-free, gluten-free, fragrance-free, color-free, aloin-free, and paraben-free. Because the serum is natural, it's suitable for use on sensitive skin for a range of different conditions like eczema and psoriasis. It also works for healing cuts and sunburns, hydrating and soothing the skin. NaturSense's gel is gentle enough for both adults and children. It's safe down to the bottle, which is BPA free.
Almost 80% of the 1,525 customers who reviewed this product gave it a five-star rating. Many with sensitive skin conditions, such as rosacea and atopical dermatitis, wrote glowingly about how soothing the product felt and how quickly it dried.
Best for Acne: Amara Organics Aloe Vera Gel from Organic Cold Pressed Aloe
Summer, one of the prime seasons for outdoor vacations, often means increased facial and body acne due to higher temperatures and more sweat production. Aloe vera is a good home remedy for reducing the redness and pain of acne. Amara Organic's serum consists of 100% natural, 99.75% organic, cold-pressed aloe vera with no added color, fragrance, or alcohol, all of which can irritate skin. The remaining 0.25% comes from natural preservatives to keep the product from spoiling. The thin consistency applies smoothly and spreads easily, feeling extra hydrating on top of the skin. Reviewers love that it doesn't dry out their skin like many acne products and doesn't feel greasy like many moisturizers. Besides acne, it is gentle enough to use as an aftershave treatment and for itchy pets.
Best with SPF: COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream
While Cosrx's Aloe Vera Sunscreen isn't the gel in its purest form, it does contain the leaf extract in its product. Sunscreen is something that you will want to have with you when you're spending a day out in the sun. Deemed a "holy grail" product by many, the soothing sun cream protects your face skin against UVA and UVB rays with SPF 50 while simultaneously hydrating and moisturizing it with aloe vera. In product reviews, people also mention that it won't budge beneath makeup, and the aloe gel makes the cream lightweight and soothingly anti-inflammatory. Additionally, the Korean brand Cosrx has a reputation for making affordable products for acne-prone and sensitive skin — many reviewers mention that it did not cause them to break out, unlike other chemical sunscreens.
Best Moisturizing: Holika Holika Aloe 99% Soothing Gel
Coming in a novel leaf-shaped bottle, the Holika Holika Aloe Vera Gel consists of 99% fermented aloe vera leaf juice from South Korea's Jeju Island, soothing your skin and reducing redness with its cooling properties. It absorbs into the skin fast and does not leave behind a sticky residue. The Holika Holika gel is a lightweight, high-quality product to incorporate into your morning routine as a daily moisturizer and also comes in handy for relieving sunburn and soothing dehydrated skin.
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.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular aloe vera gels on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different gels overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 40 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 2 of the gels themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.