Everyone should be familiar with aloe vera.
Bottles of the stuff are so ubiquitous in the world of after-sun care that it’s hard to imagine a summer without aloe.
Even in an all grown up beauty routine, aloe has a major presence as a gentle skin soother.
But the all natural ingredient has just been included on a list that calls into question whether “natural” is synonymous with “safe” for your skin when it comes to aloe vera.
“The pulp of the aloe plant is water-rich, soothing, and hydrating to the skin,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Allure. “It is commonly used for sunburns and [soothing] common irritation because of these properties.” But, according to cosmetic chemists, the plant’s soothing properties may be more fiction than fact.
“Aloe vera has long been regarded as a nice ingredient for healing and moisturization by folklore,” Ginger King, cosmetic chemist, tells Allure. “However, it’s now on Prop 65 in California. That means, to sell your product in the state of California, you must indicate on the label [that the product] contains an ingredient on Prop 65.”
Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, is intended to protect people from chemicals known to cause cancer. Currently, the FDA prohibits or restricts just 11 substances in cosmetic products (though there’s currently a bill in Congress that’s trying to expand the list), meaning all sorts of chemicals and bad-for-your-skin ingredients can technically make it into your beauty products.
Under Prop 65, the state of California must stay on top of ingredients linked to cancer, and companies are required to label any ingredients on the list on product packaging.
But even if you don’t live in California, it can help you become more skin savvy by flagging ingredients that have been linked to side effects and health issues.