The sky was clear, the sun was bright, and the hiking trail was calling. After a long winter, you didn’t think twice about heading out without sunscreen, and now there is a lobster reflected in the mirror. Seeing some relief, you dig the aloe vera out of the cabinet and then notice the expiration date was last year. So, is it still good, or is a trip to the store in order?
Aloe vera gel does expire. Store-bought varieties will last longer and will still be useful for a time after expiration. Raw aloe vera will go bad quickly and become moldy shortly after.
Can I Use Expired Aloe Vera Gel?
Expired aloe vera gel will begin to lose its moisturizing abilities. The older aloe vera gel is, the less beneficial it will be. Due to the loss of its hydrating qualities, expired aloe gel can also cause rash or irritation for those with sensitive skin.
What Color Should Aloe Vera Gel Be?
Whether processed or fresh, aloe vera gel should be clear or slightly yellow/gold but always translucent. Some store-bought varieties have a green coloring added. This coloring is just for shelf appeal and does not hurt or help the performance of the gel.
Why Is My Aloe Vera Changing Color?
Fresh aloe vera gel can oxidize quickly and will sometimes change color to pink or red when exposed to the air. This discoloration is not worrisome, provided that the gel is used or refrigerated promptly. An aloe vera plant will turn pink when stressed under conditions like too much sun or poor soil. A pink plant can produce pink or red aloe gel.
How Long Can You Keep Aloe Vera Gel?
Raw aloe vera gel does not keep at room temperature and will begin to spoil within twenty-four hours after its extraction. To store fresh aloe gel for later use, put it in the refrigerator. It will last for up to ten days there.
Store-bought aloe vera gel is mixed with preservatives that give it a much longer shelf life than raw aloe vera. The average bottle of commercially prepared aloe gel will last approximately two to three years at room temperature. If refrigerated, the store-bought aloe vera gel can last up to five years.
Grow Your Own
You can have fresh aloe vera gel at your disposal by growing your own aloe vera plant. They are a hardy succulent that prefers bright but indirect sunlight and coarse, well-drained soil. Aloe plants are easy to care for, requiring water only when the soil has completely dried. They cannot handle frost but do very well as a houseplant, making it possible to cultivate nearly anywhere, even in northern climates.
Uses for Aloe Vera Gel
The gel from the Aloe vera plant is synonymous with sunburn care. Its cooling effect and moisturization have brought relief to me many times when I stayed out in the sun too long. If you are a pale-skinned outdoor lover like me, having a tube on hand is basically a standard issue in the first-aid bag.
Aloe vera gel can also bring relief to psoriasis and eczema sufferers. Its moisturizing properties help to relieve the itching caused by these conditions. The gel can also be applied to minor cuts and abrasions due to its mild antibacterial properties, and it has been shown to relieve dandruff when applied to the scalp.
Warning: Do not ingest commercial aloe vera gels. There is some debate on using fresh gel for internal use, but all agree that the store-bought varieties are for topical use only due to the preservatives present.
The gel from the aloe vera plant is a very useful and beneficial substance, but it does not last forever. For the best results, get a new bottle when the old one expires, or better yet, grow your own aloe vera plant for fresh first-aid ointment anytime.