A Closer Look at Aloe Products
There is a great deal of confusion regarding Aloe products. The number one point of confusion is regarding the viscosity of aloe products. Consumers expect Aloe Juice to look and feel like Aloe Jelly. Many consumers believe that the thick jelly on the market came straight from the plant itself. But in reality the jelly like product is made by adding a thickener. The most common thickening agent is a combination of Carbomer (a.k.a. Carbopol) and TEA (Thiethanolamine), however there a few on the market that use a gum like Xanthan or Guar Gum.
Carbomer and TEA are chemicals that work in conjunction to create a synergetic force that both thickens and changes the surface tension of any water based product, thus creating a jelly. The viscosity confusion, I believe, is created by two factors. One being that consumers are most familiar with the clear or green Aloe Gel products commonly sold on the market. The front of the label says that it is Aloe Gel and not everyone reads the ingredient list. The second cause for confusion is that if you ever cut a piece of an aloe leaf, the inside (fillet) appears to be gelatinous and thick. However, the thickness comes from the pulp and fiber that is removed when aloe is processed. Even if the fillet is left intake with the pulp and fiber the required preservation method would thin out the finished product. Be aware that there are also some thick Aloe Gel products which contain acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer in addition to Carbomer and TEA. Read labels and ask questions.
In reality, pure Aloe Juice has the same consistency and viscosity as water. Aloe Juice is created by reconstituting freeze dried, cryo-dried, or spray dried aloe powder with deionized water to a single strength equivalency (SSE). Once the Aloe Powder is reconstituted the finished product requires preservatives in order to remain stable. While there is Aloe Juice on the market that is simply pressed, Aloe leaves the resulting juice is unstable and not thick like Aloe Jelly. A fresh unpreserved Aloe Juice needs to be treated like any other food grade juice that you purchase at the grocery store. It requires refrigeration and has a short shelf life. This short shelf life makes it unfriendly for cosmetic purposes. We have tested the preservative free aloe juice products on the market and they tested positive for bacteria and mold. If you make a product using this unpreserved aloe your product becomes unstable, despite preservatives added to the finished product.
We have run tests using many different methods of preservation using the unpreserved aloe juice and all of them have failed. The simple fact is that you must start your formulas with stable ingredients. The only way around using preserved Aloe Juice is to formulate using Aloe Powder, Aloe Oil or Aloe Butter and then use a preservative system that is stable and acceptable to you for your finished product. At Yellowstar*Essentials we have chosen to preserve our Aloe Juice with Potassium Sorbate and Citric Acid (to adjust the pH). We believe that this is the safest and gentles method we could use. Be aware that there are other aloe juice products that contain glyceryl polymethalcrylate and propylene glycol.
Aloe Oil and Aloe Butter are created when the constituents of aloe are extracted into a carrier oil. The aloe plant does not naturally create an oil or butter. Using Aloe Oil or Aloe Butter in a formula is a great alternative to Aloe Juice because the butter and oil do not require preservatives. When creating a product that does not have a water phase, formulating with Aloe Oil and Aloe Butter allows aloe to be added simply to your product.
Aloe Butter is created by extracting aloe into coconut oil. Our Aloe Oil is created by extracting aloe into soy bean oil with added vitamin E to enhance the shelf life and antioxidant properties of the finished product. Be aware that there are some Aloe Oil products that contain mineral oil on the market. There are hundreds of different formulas and processing methods in which aloe is available on the market. It is no wonder that there are many people who believe they are allergic to aloe. In reality they are most likely allergic to an added anti-caking agent, preservative or thicken agents used in different forms of aloe. There are no ingredients on the market today that are 100% hyper allergenic because allergies are complex and varied. With that said it still is more likely that people are allergic to something other than the pure aloe. If you wonder if you are truly allergic to aloe the very best method to determine if aloe is the culprit is to snip off a piece of an aloe leaf and do a patch test.
A Closer Look at Fractionated Coconut Oil
Fractionated coconut oil has an indefinite shelf life and is light, non-greasy, non-staining, liquid oil. It is great for use in massage, toiletries, aromatherapy and soap. Fractionated coconut oil is a very good choice for use with essential oils, as it helps carry therapeutic oils under the skin. Fractionated coconut oil can be used in creams, lotions, bath oils, bath salts and soap. Fractionated coconut oil is especially useful in face creams where light oil is desired. It is a good substitute for sweet almond oil if you are concerned about rancidity or a short shelf life. My favorite use for fractionated coconut oil is as a base for a massage oil because it does not leave the sheets rancid smelling.
Many people are familiar with whole coconut oil which is a solid a room temperature but do not have experience with Fractionated Coconut oil. But if you haven’t tried it you are missing out on a truly great product carrier (fixed) oil product.
All carrier oils consist of a class of molecules called fatty acid triglycerides which means they contain three, long-chain fatty ester groups. Most all plant derived carrier oils consist entirely of what are called “unsaturated” fatty acid triglycerides which means they have one or more carbon-carbon double bonds in their long fatty ester side chains which are typically 16 to 20+ carbon units long. The double bonds in these side chains are susceptible to oxidation over time and their reactions with oxygen are what produce the rancid odor that you may have noticed in your carrier oils when they get old.
Whole coconut oil also has some quite long unsaturated fatty acid triglycerides (which is why it is a solid at room temperature). But Fractionated Coconut oil is special in that it has a relatively high percentage of shorter length (C8, C10 ), completely saturated (no double bonds) triglycerides. These smaller fatty acid triglycerides are separated from the whole coconut oil to give us what is known as “Fractionated Coconut Oil.”
Coconut oil is the number one oil used to make surfactants and castile soap because of it produces a nice lather. Coconut in its pure form when it has not gone through a chemical synthesis with another ingredient is not in any way drying to the skin. Some surfactant based cleansers that are formulated to strip the skin do the leave it feeling dry and that is wrongly blamed on the coconut. Typically cleansers that are formulated for oily skin are designed to strip away the oily layer on the skin. Many consumers feel that their skin is truly clean in this state however, the skin produces more oil because it is dry and a vicious cycle of oily, dry, oily, dry is created. Soaps and cleansers can wash away the protective layer of oil and acid on our skin leaving it feeling tight and dry. Using a coconut based moisturizer helps make the skin feel better as well as help reestablish the protective layer of oil.
A Closer Look at Coconut Oil
Pure coconut oil has a small molecular structure which allows it to be easily absorbed by the skin. It leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth but not oily. Coconut oil is great for the skin because of its antioxidant properties, which also attributes to the long shelf life coconut oil has. The antioxidants in coconut oil stop the chain reaction of free-radicals creating more free-radicals. Because of the antioxidants, coconut oil not only softens your skin but protects it from further damage, while promoting healthy skin. Coconut oil is also the riches source of good medium chain fatty acids, which our sebum also produces as a protective layer on the skin to kill harmful germs.
Coconut oil is vegetable sourced oil that is naturally free of the need for pesticides and other chemicals to grow and harvest. Some of the myths about coconut oil come from the belief in post World War II times that coconut contained high levels of cholesterol, which internally or topically would result in acne. Current research on the chemical composition of coconut oil has proven that it does not contain cholesterol at all. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which actually supports the antibacterial activity of the skin’s cells.
Coconut oil contains the fatty acids caprylic acid, capric acid and lauric acid. Many of the coconut derived ingredients can be identified easily by these fatty acids. Coconut oil consists of 90% saturated fat. It is made up mostly of medium chain triglycerides which are 92% saturated fatty acids (44.6% lauric acid, 16.8% myristic acid, 8.2% palmictic acid, 8% caprylic acid), 6% monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) and 2% polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid). Coconut melts at 76°F but if stored at a cooler temperature is solid. Coconut oil resists rancidity because it is slow to oxidize.
It is interesting to note that the only other naturally occurring source of lauric acid is mother’s milk.
I hope this post has helped you decipher a few of the commonly seen ingredients and help you make your purchase decisions more easily in the future.
Thanks for reading!