DIY: Soothing Aloe Vera Gel

Friday, September 07, 2018

DIY: Soothing Aloe Vera Gel

Previously, I created a cooling aloe vera body spray which helps me survive the scorching summer season in the Philippines. This time I decided to create a soothing aloe vera gel which can be used as a light face and body moisturizer. My inspiration for this DIY is the famous Korean product Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel

First of all, I want to mention that it is not possible to formulate a 100% pure aloe vera gel. As you might have already noticed, most store-bought aloe vera gel’s label indicates 90-99% purity. There is a good explanation for this. Aloe vera extract (a.k.a Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice) that is obtained from the actual plant has a thin consistency. Therefore, in order to make a gel out of it, you need to add a thickener. It is also necessary to add a preservative since aloe vera extract (being an aqueous botanical extract) is very prone to microbial contamination. Both thickener and preservative made up about 0.5 – 2% of the aloe vera gel formulation, that’s why it’s impossible to have 100% store-bought aloe vera gel. In particular, my aloe vera gel formulation is made up of 93.3% aloe vera extract. If you really want 100% pure aloe vera gel, then your only option is to use the extract fresh from an aloe vera plant.

For my aloe vera gel recipe, I use a sugar-based natural thickening agent called xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is quite challenging to use because it forms lumps as soon as you add it to water (aloe vera extract is water-based). The trick I learned from my cosmetic formulation class is to dissolve first the xanthan gum in glycerin before adding the water. You also only need a tiny amount of xanthan gum to make a gel. However, take note that the more xanthan gum you use, the thicker and stickier the gel will be.

For the preservative, I use Preservative EHGP (Phenoxyethanol & Ethylhexylglycerin), also known as Euxyl PE 9010. It is a paraben-free, formaldehyde-free broad spectrum (oil soluble) preservative that is effective against bacteria, yeast and mold. However, it is a synthetic preservative. You may replace it with natural ECOCERT approved preservatives like Preservative Eco. I have a hard time finding a local supplier of Preservative Eco so I’ll just stick to Preservative EHGP for the meantime.

Since aloe vera gel is basically a water-based product, I also use Polysorbate 20 to mix the oil-soluble ingredients (e.g. essential oils) into the gel. If you don’t want to use Polysorbate 20 because it’s a PEG-derivative, then you can replace it with natural solubilizer (e.g. decyl glucoside).

DIY: Soothing Aloe Vera Gel
My aloe vera gel has a light, thin-gel consistency

Let’s proceed with the recipe.

Ingredients
(Makes approximately 50 gram)

PHASE A

1 g          Glycerin
0.3 g       Xanthan gum

PHASE B

46.7 g       Aloe vera extract

PHASE C

1.3 g       Polysorbate 20
0.4 g       Peppermint essential oil
0.2 g       Lavender essential oil
0.4 g       Preservative EHGP (Phenoxyethanol & Ethylhexylglycerin)

Special Equipment



Instructions
  1. Phase A: On one container, mix xanthan gum in glycerin until well dispersed.
  2. Add phase B into phase A a little at a time and mix well until a gel consistency is formed.
  3. Phase C: On a separate container, mix Polysorbate 20 with essential oils and preservative (oil-soluble).
  4. Add phase C into the gel mixture and mix well.
  5. Adjust the pH between 5 to 6 (if necessary) with citric acid 20% solution.
  6. Transfer the gel mixture into your desired container.
Notes
  • Don’t be surprised if the aloe vera gel is not crystal clear in appearance. It’s because using xanthan gum results into a semi-opaque gel.
  • You can use pH test strips to check the final pH of the solution. If the initial pH is a little bit high, you need to lower the pH to the range of 5 to 6 using citric acid 20% solution. Add the citric acid solution drop by drop using a pipette, then test again the pH. Repeat this step until you reach the target pH.
  • In order to make 20% citric acid solution, all you need to do is to dissolve 20% citric acid powder into 80% warm water. For example, you can dissolve 2 grams of citric acid in 8 grams of water.
  • If you have a milk frother (for small batch size) or an immersion blender (for large batch size), then you can use them to easily incorporate the xanthan gum into the liquid solution. However, when using those tools, be careful not to introduce too much air (bubbles) into the gel.
  • If you have sensitive skin, I recommend that you do a skin patch test on your inner arm when you use this recipe. What works for my skin might not work for your skin.
Where to buy the materials
  • I bought the Polysorbate 20, aloe vera extract and Preservative EHGP from Craftology Essentials.
  • Glycerin can be bought from most drugstores. I bought mine from Mercury Drugstore.
  • For essential oils, you may refer to this list of essential oil suppliers in the Philippines.
  • Xanthan gum can be bought from this online seller.
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