Aloe Vera Gel Vs. Aloe Straight From the Vine

Aloe vera is a skincare powerhouse and it’s not just for treating and healing skin after a bad burn. Think about it for a second, is aloe vera is the first thing you reach for to soothe and heal a sunburn, that must mean it’s pretty powerful stuff, and indeed, it is. So why not use it regularly in your skincare, instead of limiting its power for burns? Instead of using it to lessen the damage, use as a preventative agent.

Aloe is full of all the things you want in a good skincare product after all, it’s rich in antioxidants, enzymes and Vitamins A and C. It also has a mild exfoliation effect as well, which is why it’s important to not use too much at a time or it can dry the skin out. These incredible properties make it especially good for acting as a preventative to aging, (keeping wrinkles from forming and halting the spread and deepening of fine lines, it’s also great for acne, and of course, skin damage and burns) Here’s a sciency article if you would like to read more on its incredible powers. I also whip out aloe vera anytime I go too ham with a new exfoliator, I find that just as it helps soothe and heal sunburned skin, it helps my skin bounce back after an overly aggressive exfoliation session.

Another use for aloe that I’d be remiss not to mention is how great it can be as a primer. I like using a little drop (about a pea size) over my skin as the last step of my skincare and right before makeup (or if I’m going out without makeup, I use it alone and usually dust over with a powder SPF). It makes the skin look super smooth and tightens and smoothes over pores like a champ. Makeup looks incredible over it too. You can use it before, after or as your primer in fact.

So now that it’s been established that aloe vera is without a doubt incredible and a must have in any skincare routine worth mentioning, I have some good news, aloe vera is affordable as fuDGE. (In fact, depending on the fudge you are buying, it may even be cheaper).

My two favorite ways to acquire it are the following and I will break down their differences below.

The first and easiest option is from Holika Holika, I buy it on Amazon where I can get their cuter than cute aloe plant shaped bottle with 250 ml in it for $9.98. I adore this one because it contains 99% fermented aloe vera leaf juice, the fermented form of aloe vera maximizes its effects and most importantly, it makes it feel deeply moisturizing without any stickiness. The other ingredients are extracts of lotus, bamboo, cucumber, watermelon, cabbage leaves and centella asiatica. And of course, it’s without any nasties including the ever popular benzophenone, propylene glycol, BHT, animal ingredients, artificial coloring or mineral oils.

And now for the second option, aloe vera, directly from the source itself. Actual aloe leaf. You can get it from most health food stores and it’s about as inexpensive as it gets. Honestly, as good as the Holika Holika aloe is, nothing quite beats it fresh from the leaf. It’s a similar feeling of say, drinking coconut straight from the nut (why does that sound inaccurate bordering on wrong?) verses having it from a can. It’s just a little more magical. Also, since you have to keep fresh aloe in the fridge, it’s cold and oh mah, goodness, words can’t even describe how incredible that feels on the skin.

It’s senseless for me to tell you that either form is superior as far as skincare benefits go, a quick google search (or a long protracted study through boring science journals) will reveal the same thing: “proofs” that one form is better than the other, and none seem to be super conclusive. On the one hand, you’ve got the super fresh and “natural” form, the leaf itself, then there’s the fermented juice, which I will say, does have those other extracts to enhance it’s already fab properties. I have used both forms for years and will say, I cannot see any evidence that either is better.

I make my decision based off of factors of convenience instead. The Holika Holika is just easier to use and since I’m pretty freaking lazy, this means I’m more likely to actually use it. While I love the luxuriousness of the leaf, it requires a bit of time to prepare, as in, I have to get up…walk to the fridge, open the heavy door, take it out, cut the leaf and scoop some aloe, carry it in my hand or prepare a dish and then walk all the way back to the bathroom to put it on. My god, I’m exhausted just from writing all that. (Alexa, cancel my gym appointment and order me a glass of sauvignon blanc while you draw my bath).

In my ideal world, I would have both forms of aloe on hand always. I would use the aloe leaf at night and anytime I want to treat myself to “spa time”. I would use the Holika Holika in the morning and under makeup. It depends on the aloe leaf itself, but I have found that sometimes the leaf form can be slightly sticky so it can be best for night use.

Also, one tiny thing, the Holika Holika gets major cuteness points, and it always smells amazing. I mean, the leaf smells good too (unless you’re bad and let it sit for too long in the fridge…but I have never done that, so it’s only that I imagine it would).

So now you have it, two incredible forms of aloe vera. Don’t agonize over which to get, just flip a coin and when it’s in the air, you’ll know which one your heart truly desires. Or, just go with the cheaper option first to try it out like I did. But that coin flip thing, it’s for real.

Hannah Flack
Hannah Flack

I am a USC grad with a passion for beauty, health and science. I reside in beautiful California with my husband and puppy (@sebastian.thecavalierking).

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