Tried and Tested Skincare Products

Aloe Vera Skincare

Aloe vera is widely celebrated for its natural, skin-soothing qualities and we know many of our readers use it regularly. With so many free-from skincare products now featuring it as a key ingredient, we asked our regular tester Kelly Rose Bradford to test some, and try out a strictly AV-based beauty regime for a month.

I’ve always found something quite reassuring about aloe vera and it has been a bathroom cupboard staple for a long time. I’ve reached for it to slap on to everything from sunburn to spots, and with the mindset that it ‘won’t hurt’, have always been quite liberal in both application and dispensation. I tried it as a nappy rash remedy when my son was a baby, and have even used the residue after applying it elsewhere to smooth through my hair as a fly-away-ends tamer!

For those not familiar with it, it’s the jelly-like substance which comes from inside the leaves of the aloe vera plant, and it has come in and out of fashion over the years both for skincare and beauty. I’ve always used it via a tube of nothing-added gel from my local health shop. I have a few skin issues – random patches of eczema, razor burns post hair removal, and stubborn hormone-induced spots on my jaw at certain times of the month.

When asked me to try a full range of AV-based bodycare for a month I curious to see how the natural products would compare to my regular routines. I should point out these usually err on the side of luxury – whereas I am happy to slather myself in aloe to treat a spot or eczema outbreak, I have never before considered using it in shampoo or conditioner, or cleanser or toner products.

dr organic

First up, I swapped our usual liquid soap for
Dr Organic’s Aloe Vera Soap Bar (£2.69, 100g), which combines aloe vera with rosemary. The smell was refreshing and zingy, and reassuringly ‘clean’ without a medicinal odour. It produced a nice lather with small bubbles (always a sign of a good soap) and left my hands feeling clean and soft. I usually avoid tablet soap for washing my hands because I do find it dries them out, particularly between my fingers, but this was fine – I’d happily use this all over my little boy’s body (he’s nine) and on myself as an all-over body bar in the shower.


I wear a lot of eye make up and knew that the Elena’s Nature Collection Eye Make-up Remover (£7.70, 100ml; sample size tested only) was going to have a job on its hands. As well as aloe, it contains – amongst other things – sweet almond oil and shea butter and is part of a range suitable for people with eczema or psoriasis. I do not have any specific problems around my eyes, but I can suffer irritation after plucking my eyebrows, or when I have been wearing metallic eye-shadow. I usually use a premium brand eye make remover, which is contact lens-safe, a hangover from the days when I was a lens user. I mention this because the Elena product is very thick and creamy, something I am not used to around my eyes. It removed my make up well, but did emulsify it, so I had to do two or three sweeps with the cotton wool to get it off my skin. It was very soothing and soft though, just thicker in consistency than I am used to.

Esssential care

In the shower, I tried Essential Care Aloe Vera Body Wash (£9, 200ml). A pump dispenser product, this has the look and feel of a lotion. It did not lather, so I didn’t feel particularly ‘cleansed’ by it. I suffer from eczema behind my knees on occasion, and, bizarrely, between my toes. I can induce a flair up overnight if I overexpose those areas to certain products. It was quite reassuring and soothing to use on those areas, and there was no irritation. I also tried it as an intimate wash, and when shaving my bikini line – another area I am prone to rashes. Because it didn’t lather, it allowed the razor to glide well, and there was no itchiness or red razor bumps afterwards. Hurrah! I’d probably buy this just for my intimate shaving needs!


My armpits are an area of acute sensitivity and I cannot use anything that has strong essential oils in because I will develop, within hours, itchy red bumps which then take days to clear up, so I am very wary of what deodorants I use. The Green People Natural Aloe Vera Deodorant (£7.95, 75ml) combines aloe vera and olive oil, giving it a slightly culinary smell. It is a roll on, which I tend to prefer only for travel or in my handbag, being more of a spray girl at home. The label promises it is non irritating and with effective odour control. On the skin it felt quite wet, but it was effective as a deodorant and did not bring me out in a rash.


Dispensing with my usual plain aloe gel, I used the pump-action Sukin Aloe Vera Gel (£8.12, 125ml) for this trial to combat various ailments: a patch of dry skin between my mouth and nose after a week of vigorous nose blowing, to calm the skin on my brows after a bit of over-plucking and, in vast amounts, around the bikini line when I had used my epilator rather than a razor. It was excellent for combating redness and sensitivity and definitely a beauty cabinet must-have for the whole family.


Avalon Organics Aloe Unscented Hand and Body Lotion (£7.15, 340g) was quite simply brilliant – I kept it by the kitchen sink (it has a practical pump dispenser) and used it throughout the day on my hands, and on my legs after shaving. It was odourless, so it did not interfere with my perfume. Shea butter and vitamin E really up its moisturising properties, and it was a fantastic all-rounder for simple, straightforward relief for dry skin.

Faith in Nature

I had reservations about aloe hair care. Faith in Nature Shampoo and Conditioner (both £5.10, 400ml) were great on my son’s hair, less so on mine. I think this is simply because chemically treated hair needs silicone rich products to replenish it. My little boy’s hair (which is long) was left shiny and clean, and the shampoo did not irritate his scalp or behind his ears as my non free-from shampoo can sometimes do. It was also fab on my dog – having run out of dog shampoo I decided this was gentle enough (its other ingredients include lemon oil, lime oil and tea tree) for her sensitive Westie white fur and skin. She gave it the paws up!

Ole Henriksen

Facial skincare is another area where I tend to go luxe, but I was very impressed with the Ole Henriksen Aloe Vera Deep Cleanser (£18.99, 207ml). It is designed more for oily or blemished skin, but I used it at ‘the time of the month’ when I knew some pesky spots would appear around my jaw. It was perhaps too powerful for me for constant everyday use, but I’d have been chuffed to have had this as my regular cleanser as a spotty teenager.


Toners aren’t usually my thing – I am a ‘splash of cold water and on to moisteriser’ type, but I was impressed with Natio’s Aloe Vera Toning Lotion (£8, 200ml). It had an iridescence to the liquid, and was very gentle with a satin-like feel – nothing like an astringent toning lotion. I could be persuaded to repeat purchase this – I am a fan of double cleansing because I wear a lot of make-up, but one sweep of this after my facial wash left my skin feeling and looking super clean.


Moving on to face moisturisers, I sampled Jason Soothing 84% Aloe Vera Crème (£7.29, 113g). Generally, I don’t put my usual aloe on before make up – it can make the skin ‘tacky’ and cause foundation to settle in the pores or look scaly, so I was pleased to try this to see what aloe could be like as a make up base. Unlike a gel, it does not ‘glaze’ on the skin, and was fantastic under foundation, allowing it to glide on. Its heady – but not overpowering – fragrance must have come from the sweet almond oil, which is in the crème along with vitamin E. This was probably my favourite product out of everything I tried.

So all in all, aloe vera does have a bigger place in my life than just as a gel – there will definitely be more AV action in the mummy, child and dog’s bathroom at KRB Towers from hereon in!

First published January 2013

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