Listen up, y’all because I have a product review and tip for you….one you will be thanking me for. Don’t worry. It’s not one of my products so this is not a sales pitch for Neos. However, it is a product offered by a trusted colleague, friend and mentor so I guess you can say a sales pitch for her company. I’m just so excited about this particular product’s viability and usefulness in aromatherapy that I have to share it with my fans…and beyond.
Many of you are home aromatherapy enthusiasts, incorporating essential oils for various therapeutic needs into your life. Hey, I am too and have been for many years. We all hopefully know we need to dilute essential oils with a carrier, using a fixed oil or a body care product containing lipids (or fats) for topical application to reduce risks of adverse reactions, yes? Well, I’ve recently had the privilege of experimenting with a carrier that is NOT a fixed oil and contains no lipids or fat whatsoever. It’s water-based, which seems completely contradictory and counter-intuitive to all we know about appropriate carriers for essential oils. Right? Read on, my friends.
You’ve probably read and heard about using aloe vera jelly or “gel” as a “carrier” for essential oils in recent weeks. Robert Tisserand teaches a good aloe vera jelly (aka. “gel”) can be an excellent “carrier” for topical application of essential oils. And with good reason. When properly formulated, a “gelled” aloe-based product is a lighter, non-greasy medium which can be used for aroma-therapeutic purposes, offering multiple active benefits and an excellent absorption rate. Yes, in spite of it being water-based with no lipids. It can be a safe carrier option for topical application of essential oils for various needs, such as pain management, various skin concerns or wounds such as minor burns or skin care when a fatty oil based carrier is less than desirable. Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes teaches about the use of food grade aloe vera in aromatherapy for a variety of needs including oral care, external fungal infections, general skin concerns, moderate wound care (for safety, avoid essential oils on broken skin and open wounds) and more.
Before we go any further, let me hopefully clear up some confusion and a few questions about the difference between “aloe gel” and “aloe jelly”. Technically, aloe “gel” is the “meat” and juice found inside fresh aloe vera leaves. It’s water content fluctuates between 98.5% to 99.5%. Fresh aloe vera gel has many wonderful properties and has reportedly been used for skin care and medicinal purposes for about 3500 years. However, this fresh, straight from the plant gel is not a suitable carrier for essential oils. Oil and water, remember? So please don’t try that at home, boys and girls.
Aloe “jelly”, on the other hand, is the gelatinous product(s) we find sold in bottles and jars for cosmetic and dermal use. It will usually be thick, translucent or clear, and spreadable like the jellies we love to eat on hot buttermilk biscuits. Along with a concentrated and sterilized form of aloe leaf (powder, juice, extract) and water where necessary (such as when powdered aloe vera leaf is used), commercially manufactured and sold aloe vera jelly/gel products will include thickeners (gums, carbomers, polymers), preservatives and sometimes humectants, skin conditioners or other ingredients. The resulting product may be called a “gel” or a “jelly”. Companies most often call them “aloe gel” because of their gel-like texture and consistency plus it’s a widely recognized product name and type used in the industry and by consumers.
Because of these additional ingredients, a properly formulated aloe “jelly” CAN be used as a carrier in aromatherapy for some applications and needs. They provide a buffer and help “emulsify” (for lack of a better word) essential oils with a low or medium viscosity into the water-based medium so they can be used safely on skin. Now, we are not generally talking about a full body application or even something like a full back rub when you’ve played too hard and forgotten you’re not 20 years old anymore. But for smaller areas of skin and localized or spot applications…..Yes, you can do that.
Clear as mud? Good. Now, back to my awesome find.
The aloe gel I’m going to tell you about just may be the best I’ve ever encountered for aromatherapy purposes, including the thick aloe “gel” I make from scratch myself. It’s a “pourable” loosely gelled aloe product with the ingredients needed to effectively and safely use it for topical applications of essential oils, available from Nature’s Gift Aromatherapy Products. It’s also a food-grade product, unlike the majority of aloe vera products you’ll find on the market.
I contacted Marge Clark (owner of Nature’s Gift) to talk with her about this gel after she mentioned it in a group discussion thread on Facebook. We decided I needed to try it out and put it through a few practical aromatherapy application tests here at home to see what I thought about it. For those of you who don’t know, Marge and I live and conduct business in the same state, just a couple of hours away from one another. Colleagues in our industries often support and assist one another by exchanging ideas, cross-testing, experimenting and giving one another professional feedback on products and such.
So what exactly are these “tests” I’ve ran with this awesomesauce aloe gel? Well, over the last few weeks I’ve experimented with it as a carrier and aroma-therapeutic application medium for:
- insect bite relief
- minor skin boo-boos/irritations
- muscle soother
- pain management rub
- spot treatment of skin blemishes
- a non-oily bug repellent
- simple after-shave gel
- simple oil-free serum (facial care)
- post-waxing skin calming gel
Guess what? It passed my very rigorous testing and extremely picky standards……every single time. It easily took and held essential oils in 0.5 – 5% dilutions. I haven’t tried dilutions above 5% yet but just guessing based on my experience, I think it can probably safely “hold” up to 10% without separating. It may even hold as high as 25% dilutions, but I wouldn’t advise home users going any higher than 8 or 10% essential oil dilutions unless you have extensive education and understanding of essential oils and their chemistry. I also have not used any other additives as of yet so I can’t report on that at this time. But just based on my years of experience, I suspect a very small amount of light fixed oils or just a smidge of water-soluble additives such as glycerin could be thoroughly mixed in without needing additional preservatives or emulsifiers….as long as you keep the additive’s percentage low and mix really well with a mini hand-mixer or stick blender. I’ll probably test this theory at some point but honestly from what I’ve seen so far, none of these are needed to improve the skin-feel of the gel. It’s not that often you find a versatile and “perfect” medium but when you do, you really don’t want to mess around with it too much. You end up defeating yourself and reducing or completely eliminating the benefits you want.
Seriously, y’all. This is good stuff. I especially like the viscosity and body of this aloe gel for using with essential oils for therapeutic purposes. It has just enough of each to “feel” like you are actually applying something with some substance without it being too thick and gloppy or too watery. Just so you know, I squirted a bit without any EO’s added into the palm of my hand and held my hand vertical to see if it “ran”. It did. This isn’t a problem unless you have several squirts in hand and are trying to use it vertically. Even then, it’s not a real problem. You just have to move a little faster to keep it from running down or out of your hand before you get it rubbed on. As an added bonus, it doesn’t have an icky sticky residue like many aloe gel products can have and it’s easy to work with when mixing essential oils into it. Oh, and there’s no competing odor. SCORE! I don’t think it would be a good medium to attempt to get a suspension with, such as a “glitter gel” or “shimmer gel” because it’s not thick enough to suspend heavier particles. But we are looking at therapeutic and supportive use here, not aesthetic cosmetic use.
Did I mention I tried it in a roller ball bottle? Rolls out for small area, localized and spot application like a champ! Not surprising seeing as the gel is about the consistency of a light fixed oil. Oohh….Oohh….Oohh! Random thought. I want to try it in a large roller ball bottle for deodorant. *making note to self* Oops….sorry, y’all. I’m in R & D mode here. Hey, I’ve been ear deep in product research and development for longer than some of you have been old enough to drive and I’m telling you the possibilities of this aloe gel’s usefulness are numerous.
I sent Marge a copy of this review so she had a head’s up before y’all make a run to her store to get your own bottle. Yes, that’s how confident I am you want this product. When I asked her for a quote, this is what she had to say: “There are times when a carrier oil just isn’t appropriate, when you want the skin to stay dry, not moist. These are the times I reach for our food grade aloe gel as a base. Ginger mentioned trying higher dilutions. I am always super cautious of that but have successfully used up to 8% for a specific product/blend. Please remember this is a food grade product so it’s not preserved to the level of commercial aloe gel you may see in your corner Walmart. I would not count on extended shelf life, but, like most natural products, you would want to use it within a year and handle with care. We put all of our gel-based products in treatment pump bottles to help avoid contamination.”
Nature’s Gift also offers several expertly formulated aromatherapy products utilizing this very aloe gel as well. You can find those here if you want to check them out.
Alright, I think I’ve gushed on long enough here. I’m gonna skidaddle for now. When you wander over to Nature’s Gift and decide to try the aloe gel for yourself, tell Miss Marge you read about it here and I said you NEED this product. BTW, you may also enjoy reading the informative posts found on the Nature’s Gift blog , especially Marge’s “What I Learned in Boulder” series.
Until next time, enjoy the Ahhh moments, y’all!