I was recently gifted a tub of this popular aloe vera gel by Nature Republic and thought I’d review it on my blog to understand why it’s such a hot-selling item from the labs of this Korean brand.
This product appears to have a massive following. It’s a bestseller on online beauty sites around the world and seems to sell out as soon as it is restocked. Apparently, it’s one of Nature Republic’s signature products and to date, millions of units of these have been sold globally.
According to the friend who lugged this back for me all the way from Korea, this is no joke. She saw first hand how women were hauling this by the dozens with some even resorting to shipping it back in cartons ahead of their own flights home .
In Korea, the beauty shops can do this for you if you bulk buy beauty products and by bulk buy I really mean to say that there are women out there who buy several crates of body gels and hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of face masks in one go.
Wow. I can’t wait to see this phenomenon with my own eyes. A trip to Korea is now on my beauty bucket list!
Before I go straight to the ins and outs of the Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel itself, here’s some brief background on natural aloe vera which I found interesting. Bear with me, I’m a bit of a background/ history buff when it comes to beauty ingredients.
The particular strain of aloe vera used in beauty and for oral consumption is a cultivated plant with thick and juicy leaves. The juicy gel-like interior of the stalk-like leaves of aloe vera has for centuries been hailed a botanical miracle and has been used not only topically on skin but ingested as well and is often added raw to drinks for its inherent detoxifying qualities. It is pretty amazing stuff!
It’s also known to the ancient Egyptians as the ‘Plant of Immortality’ simply because of how many amazing uses it has and apparently Cleopatra used it to moisturize her royal skin long before there was the convenience of beauty counters and if it’s good enough for a Queen…well, it’s good enough for the rest of us, right?
Even the Native Americans referred to the aloe vera as the ‘Wand of Heaven’ so there you go, it’s as old as civilisation itself and lauded by many for its lovely natural benefits but mind you, we’re talking about aloe vera straight-up in its pure and natural form.
I loved this article here at How Stuff Works about some more uses for natural aloe vera so that even if you can’t get your hands on the Nature Republic Aloe Vera Soothing Gel, you can still grab some actual aloe vera stalks and do some amazing things with it.
Anyway, back to what was the original purpose of this post and that is to look at the Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel.
The insightful folk at Nature Republic were obviously also aware of how wonderful aloe vera is and were confident enough to make it a 92% ingredient component in their popular beauty gel which makes it almost pure aloe vera but for the remaining 8%.
Which leads me to ask why should I use this instead of pure aloe vera gel extracted from the plant itself?
I have several aloe vera plants growing abundant in my garden after all. It’s easy enough to pluck, peel and slather.
The only reason I can think of is convenience.
Not everyone has access to fresh aloe vera and while it’s surprisingly a very easy to grow plant, I can’t imagine all people having a garden or plot and the right climate for growing aloe vera in every corner of the world.
Incidentally, it grows well in warmer climes likes ours, is hardy against wind and pests but doesn’t do well at all when temperatures fall to freezing levels. It basically dies at around 28F/ -2 degrees Celsius mark but there’s no fear of that in this country.We’re always so hot, hot, hot here in the tropics!
Discounting Genting, we rarely hit anything below 20 degrees Celsius in our part of the universe. Ever. It’s always that hot here. Really! (Come on over if you want to enjoy Summer all year round!). We sound like a perfect environment for aloe vera growing.
I do believe the Nature Republic product takes out the mess of having to peel your own fresh aloe gel from the stalk which, when raw and unprocessed, tends to be tackier and less handy to keep than the commercial gel.
This is essentially like buying orange juice from the store instead of squeezing your own from the fruit. It’s so much easier even if it is lazier but I do love me a tidy short cut and will gladly pay premium for less mess so I understand the convenience of this packaged gel. It’s also fancier to gift a tub of this Nature Republic gel than hand someone a leaf of aloe vera which might be awkward and hard to gift wrap.
Anyway, the aloe vera content in the Nature Republic formula is certified as being from organic sources by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Nature Republic also proclaim this formula to be free of parabens, mineral oils and artificial colouring so it isn’t really bad as you think to go commercial in this instance.
Now, given that the Nature Republic formulation doesn’t contain any preservative paraben, I have been keeping my tub of gel in the fridge.
I might be misguided but this is something I like to do with certain beauty products like perfumes, lipsticks and skin creams in particular paraben-free products. I find these tend to deteriorate more quickly in our consistent heat here at the Equator and I believe this helps keep my beauty goodies in top shape and extend their shelf-life in this land of eternal Summers. Correct me if I’m doing it wrong. I’m open to debate or guidance.
For this product, cooling is a particularly nice touch as the gel takes to refrigeration really well and feels even more refreshing and amazingly cool on the skin when applied. You really have to try it for yourself to feel how invigorating this can be on a hot day.
In terms of weight, this has to be by far, one of the heaviest skincare products I own. It’s really solid and bigger than the palm of my hand.
The tub is filled to the brim with the thick jelly-like formula and it’s a generous amount for sure and much bigger and heavier than The Body Shop’s Body Butters. There’s plenty for all over application for a good while.
Unlike the body butters, the gel is not at all greasy. It’s lightweight, spreads on light and easy and leaves no apparent residue or tackiness. It also has a fresh, zesty and pleasing scent that lingers on your skin even after it’s dry and absorbed.
If anything, Nature Republic cannot be accused of skimping on product because this is indeed one massive mother load of product and packs in at a hefty 300ml of gel; the standard and only size that is available in.
Now, just when you least suspect it, I’m going to have to throw this curve ball into my critique…it is indeed the elephant in the room as far as reviews of this product are concerned.
Reviews online have been largely of a fan-girl quality and waxing lyrical of this product with all mostly coming short of mentioning the obvious le éléphant!
So, for whatever reason, I’m compelled to go against the grain, get all rebellious and talk elephant because it matters to me personally.
When using this gel, I detected an obvious acerbic note to the formula and what do you know, a quick look at the ingredients confirms the presence of *gasp* ALCOHOL!
I’m going to leave it to you on whether this bit of ingredient information sits well with you or not but I guess it means that it is obviously not an alcohol-free skin care item and herein lies my own personal dilemma with using this product as a soothing moisturiser.
Is alcohol ever alright in a skincare product particularly one intended to soothe the skin? I’ve always felt that alcohol was a no-no in skincare formulas because it ultimately corrodes the skin of its natural protective barriers. Hmm…
(Psst! For those to whom it will matter, does this essentially mean that it’s not halal?! Please look into this status if this will concern you.)
Let’s take a closer look…
I bet you didn’t expect to end up here with this review. Nor did I when I first began using this product. I’m afraid I routinely forget to look at the ingredients before I proceed to slather beauty creams all over me. I’m a little hasty like that in that I tend to dig in head first – forgive the lab rat in me.
Honestly, I’m grateful that writing this blog has made me slow down a little in that respect and has forced me to look at beauty products more critically. It has also encouraged me to do more research and do fancy things like read the ingredients list for once even if most of it is still gibberish to me. I should also admit I do it more for your sake than mine.
I know there are already plenty of online reviews of this product here, here and here, for example, telling you how many wonderful ways to use the Nature Republic Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel. I’m sure they are all valid and creative but this review won’t do that.
I’m happy to link you to a few of the more popular reviews for all the other stuff but I will be using my review to pose you my little dilemma. A different take if you will. Shall I just use it on my feet instead of my face?
It would be an awful shame to cast this generous gift aside. Especially since it was carried all the way from Korea just for me. Please tell me what I should do?
Paula Begoun, an internationally-regarded examiner of cosmetic ingredients and self-proclaimed Cosmetics Cop had this article, Alcohol in Skin Care, on her website, and it has started to make me think twice about using skincare products containing alcohol. I can’t help but be a little fixated on this issue now that I’ve read her article.
On the other hand, I really do love the way this product feels instantly soothing on my skin, its myriad of amazing multi-functions and dare I say, even the scent; alcohol and all!
I feel so divided about using this product now. I didn’t expect my review to end up so personally contentious for me. Perhaps I should just do what Cleopatra did and that’s to go back to the plant itself. After all, that was fit enough for a queen.
Any ideas, comments, suggestions on this subject are welcome.
POST UPDATE @ September 2014: I wanted to add a link to an article that I think offers the other side of the coin to the alcohol in skincare issue and I think it gives us some additional food for thought in this wholly confusing, ‘Alcohol in Skincare’ debate. Hope it helps!
Why Alcohol in Skin Care is Safe, Despite What Paula Begoun Says by Nicki Zevola
[Disclaimer: This product was gifted to me by a friend. All opinions expressed are of a personal nature. Consider at your own risk.]