Allure posted an article this weekend titled "Why Aloe Vera May Disappear From Your Skin-Care Products, According to Experts," which focuses on the addition in 2015 of non-decolorized, whole-leaf aloe extract to California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (commonly referred to as Proposition 65). The article accurately outlines the details associated with non-decolorized, whole leaf aloe vera extract's inclusion on the list of ingredients covered by Proposition 65. We've addressed this issue before, namely in Dermascope Magazine where Lexli founder Dr. Ahmed Abdullah provided an explanation. However, we want to take a moment to revisit the topic here on the Lexli blog to provide further details while sharing Lexli's point-of-view on the issue.
(For those who want to cut to the punchline: non-decolorized, whole-leaf aloe vera extract is not, never has been, and never will be used in Lexli products.)
Effective December 4, 2015, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract to the list of chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). This decision came on the heels of a study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) whereby rats and mice were exposed to freeze-dried and gamma-irradiated extracts of aloe vera plant leaves in drinking water. In other words, they ingested the non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract. At the end of the two-year study, rats demonstrated an increase in intestinal tumors. Because of these findings, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified non-decolorized, whole-leaf aloe vera extract as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
What is non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract?
The rind (thick outer-covering of the leaf) and latex (yellow sap found immediately below the rind) of the aloe leaf contain anthraquinones, such as aloin – organic compounds that have laxative properties when ingested. Because anthraquinones have been found to cause irritation or allergic reaction in some individuals, most manufacturers remove the aloin content of the plant in a purification process called “decoloration.” It is imperative to note that the aloe vera extract referenced in California Proposition 65 is that which has not been purified through the decoloration process. Thus, it contains a high level of aloin and other anthraquinones.
Commenting on the results of the study, Dr. Nigel Walker, Deputy Program Director for Science for the National Toxicology Program, stated, “The aloe gel which is used in skin care products is generally believed to be safe.”
Click to view a video demonstration of the aloe vera de-coloration process.
Is non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract used in Lexli products?
No. Lexli has never used non-decolorized whole leaf aloe vera extract in its products and never will. In fact, the use of non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract (which is unpurified) is rare by any company that manufactures consumer products in the United States.
Lexli products only use organic, pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera gel taken from the inner filet of the leaf and only that which is pharmaceutical-grade – the highest level of quality possible in aloe vera gel. In fact, the aloe vera used in Lexli products is the same as that which Dr. Abdullah applies to skin flaps in surgery to help control inflammation.
The aloe used in Lexli products is certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC), a non-profit trade organization that establishes standards for aloe harvesting, processing and usage to ensure that consumers have access to aloe products of the highest quality. To be IASC-certified, aloe must undergo third-party testing following the de-colorization process to ensure that its aloin content is no more than 10 parts per million, a level significantly less than the 50 parts per million allowable by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review - an organization established by the Personal Care Products Council with support from the FDA and the Consumer Federation of America. In fact, according to IASC, the vast majority of products with IASC-certified aloe vera actually contain aloin at less than one part per million.
Click to read the International Aloe Science Council's FAQ on Proposition 65.
In what instances could non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract’s inclusion in Proposition 65 affect me?
First, it's important to note that the non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract used in the NTP study was ingested versus applied topically. Beyond that, it is uncommon for topical products containing non-decolorized whole-leaf aloe vera extract to be manufactured and sold in the United States. With that said, consumers are advised to carefully examine the ingredient labels of the products they buy to determine the type of aloe vera that is used. If there is any uncertainty about the quality of the aloe vera in the product, call the company directly to gain greater clarification and ask if they use aloe vera that is IASC-certified.
Many consumers use whole-leaf aloe vera at home in the treatment of cuts, burns and abrasions. It is important to understand that when aloe plants are used in this manner, you are exposed to low levels of anthraquinones. For that reason, some individuals may choose not to utilize raw aloe vera.
If you have questions regarding non-decolorized, whole-leaf aloe vera extract and Proposition 65 or the purity of the aloe vera used in Lexli products, please post them in the comments below. Additionally, you may contact our customer care team.
Click to learn the reasons why aloe vera is good for the skin and why Lexli uses pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera as the base of its products instead of water. Aloe's benefits to the skin have long been studied and are well documented.