Banana Boat Aloe Gel
BANANA BOAT ALOE GEL
Having trouble finding aloe on the ingredient list? The sun hasn't blinded you. It's buried under petroleum-based mineral oil and fatty fillers. (Hawaiian Tropic at least has aloe as the first ingredient). Admittedly, it has some natural stuff like aloe, coconut oil and cocoa butter, but preservatives include formaldehyde-releasing imidazolidinyl urea and estrogenic parabens, some of which are outlawed in body care products for kids under three in Denmark.
FRUIT OF THE EARTH 100% ALOE VERA GEL
I must've had one too many margaritas. The label says "100%" in giant bold letters, which I quickly inferred to mean 100% aloe. Not so. It's just 100% gel. The little asterisk on the back of the bottle explain that this product has other stuff like triethanolamine (which is frequently contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines) as well as formaldehyde-releasing preservatives like DMDM hydantoin and diazolidinyl urea. Now, that's clever labelling.
LILY OF THE DESERT
Coming in at 99 per cent, this one's got the highest percentage of aloe after the plant itself. The certified organic aloe comes from Texas (where Lily's headquartered) and Mexico. It says it contains an added aloe isolate that boosts its healing polysaccharides. While the company does offer great preservative-free juices, the phenoxyethanol preservative in its topical jelly isn't recommended for baby bottoms (according to the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety).
These days lots of health store brands say they're 98 per cent aloe, but this Danish brand is held up a notch above the rest. Its 98 per cent certified organic Mexican aloe gel gets scooped from inside the leaves (rather than just mashing them up whole). It's also patented its "Activaloe" process designed not to destroy beneficial polysaccharides through sloppy aloe pasteurizing. Avivir still uses thickeners and preservatives like everyone else, but no major red-flagged ones.
ALOE VERA PLANT
Okay, so it's not exactly portable, but nothing beats an aloe vera plant in your home ready and willing to deliver tissue-healing, anti-inflammatory properties on the spot. Just break off a tip, rub onto crispy summer burns, cuts, bites and rashes and - voilà - the planet will heal itself.