That aloe product you bought? Yeah, it might not actually have any aloe vera in it.
Tests found that store-brand aloe gels sold at Target, CVS and Walmart don't have any of the chemical markers of aloe vera, indicating there's not any actual aloe vera plant in it – even though the products claim to have it, a study from Bloomberg News says.
So instead of rubbing aloe vera on your sunburn, you may be rubbing sugary goo.
The testing found the gels contained maltodextrin, which is essentially a sugar made from starch, Fortune notes. It's occasionally used as a filler in aloe products, and can also be found in Jello and Splenda.
The products Bloomberg tested were: Walmart’s Equate Aloe After Sun Gel with pure aloe vera; Target’s Up & Up Aloe Vera Gel with pure aloe vera; and CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel.
This isn't the first time store-brand gels have been accused of misrepresentation. Tests by ConsumerLabs found only about 50 percent of aloe products actually contain aloe. And ABC News reports that Target is facing a lawsuit after tests found its gels don't contain aloe.
The Minneapolis-based retailer said it wouldn't comment on Bloomberg's report because of pending litigation, ABC News says. While the other retailers told Bloomberg they weren't going to take the products off store shelves.
"We hold our suppliers to high standards and are committed to providing our customers the quality of products they expect," a spokesperson for Walmart told Fortune. “We contacted our suppliers and they stand behind the authenticity of their products."
No federal agency regulates cosmetic products – like these aloe gels – before they're sold, so there isn't anyone checking whether a product's claims are accurate, according to the FDA's website. However, the FDA can take action against a company that has misbranded a cosmetic product.
Aloe vera is a plant that's been around for thousands of years, and has become a boon for retailers as a common way to treat sunburns, psoriasis and cold sores, among scores of other things.
Although the National Institutes of Health says there's not enough evidence to show whether the plant helps for most of these things.