No Actual Aloe Vera Found in Aloe Gels From Walmart, Target, CVS: Study

NEW YORK — A new study about aloe vera gel, used to treat sunburns and other skin issues, might make some consumers feel even more burned, especially those partial to store brand products.

Bloomberg hired a lab to test various store brands and it found that the aloe gel sold at stores like Walmart, Target and CVS is lacking one important ingredient — aloe vera.

The report says that all of the brands listed aloe vera juice as a prominent ingredient, but the three specific chemical markers that would indicate the presence of aloe were missing.

The four gels that Bloomberg tested were Wal-Mart's "Equate Aloe After Sun Gel," Target's "UP & Up Aloe Vera Gel," CVS "Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel, and Walgreens "Alcohol-Free Aloe Vera Body Gel."

In three of the samples the lab found none of the chemical markers, but tests did find maltodextrin, a cheap, sugary substitute sometimes used to imitate aloe, according to the results.

The fourth sample had one of the three chemical markers, but without the other two markers it wasn't possible to say whether or not aloe was ever included in the recipe.

Aloe vera brings in a lot of money – according to Bloomberg, the total U.S. market grew 11 percent last year, up to $146 million.

The U.S. Food and Drug administration does not approve the ingredients in cosmetic products, essentially leaving it up to suppliers to make good on their promises.

A representative for Fruit of the Earth, the company that produces the gels, disputed the report, as did Walgreens, CVS and Walmart.

But now there are several class action lawsuits against the four retailers and Fruit of the Earth from customers who believe they were misled.