Beauty, Cosmetic Reviews
Comments 7

You Had Me at Aloe: A K-Beauty Aloe Gel Comparison

While aloe is considered a summertime favorite, it is a staple cosmetic for many K-pop idols & beauty gurus. I recently introduced aloe gel into my daily regimen as a replacement for traditional body lotions, but I have always had an aloe plant or cosmetic tub of the gooey stuff on hand. My mum is a redhead that seemingly gets a sunburn if she glances outside & I had a fascination with the oven as a kid so enough said!

If you’re unfamiliar with this desert plant, the smooth leaves with a spiny ridge are fragile along their centers. The leaves crack easily, oozing a slimy & watery gel from inside.

Aloe is a well researched ingredient & historically used through various cultures. It provides soothing medicinal benefits for skin irritations or burns, it provides some antibacterial advantages as well. Aloe vera’s main claim to cosmetic fame is it hydration properties because the ingredient is 99.5% water.

The Products

When I began using aloe as an overall body gel last spring, I would purchase an aloe gel from whatever brand was currently having a sale on Jolse that week. All of these aloe products seem more or less the same, 92% – 99% aloe-based as indicated in the product name & no advertised additives. How different could they be?

It would turn out aloe gels can be vastly different & they definitely are not all created equal. This review will contain differences I noticed & what I look out for when purchasing K-Beauty aloe gels now; but first, here are the aloe gels I currently have in my collection that be part of today’s comparison:

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  • Missha Premium 95% Aloe Soothing Gel
  • Goodal 95% Aloe Soothing Gel
  • Nature Republic Jeju 92% Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel
  • The Face Shop Jeju 99% Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel
  • Etude House 99% Aloe Soothing Gel
  • The Saem Aloe Vera 95% Soothing Gel

Application

This is a non-traditional review because I am comparing multiple products instead of taking an in-depth look at an individual product so this will not be as thorough as my typical cosmetic reviews, but we will still get down to gritty important bits of each product!

Missha Goodal Nature Republic The Face Shop Etude House The Saem
Texture Thin, Smooth Thick, Smooth Thin, Smooth Thin, Watery Thin, Watery Thick, Chunky
Scent Fresh, Perfume Floral, Perfume Floral, Antiseptic Fresh None Antiseptic
Finish Matte Non-Sticky, Satin Matte Satin Matte Non-Sticky, Satin Matte

There are a few good qualities all of these products possess, they absorb quickly & have a non-sticky finish.

The scent is where I found the gels varied the most & it is such a personal preference. Goodal & Nature Republic were the only gels that I found overwhelming since I am sensitive to floral perfume.

 

The texture did not vary greatly, but a few of the gels applied more easily than others. Goodal & The Saem are noticeably thicker gels that needed to be glided over the skin surface a few times, body heat seemed to thin out the consistency so they absorbed better. The Saem’s formula was the only gel I found slightly unpleasant. It is a chunky formula so it took the longest to apply because the globs of aloe took a bit more work to melt into a smooth consistency.

Packaging

Packaging is such a personal preference, I tend to prefer tubs where I can scoop out product to be more convenient. Tubes can be a hassle if you need to dispense more product & your hands are already slick from applying product earlier so it can feel like I am playing hot potato with a cosmetic.

However, formulas are less stable in tubs because the product has more exposure to air & light. Tubs are less hygienic as well, unless you are using a tool to scoop out product as an alternative to your hands.

Missha Goodal Nature Republic The Face Shop Etude House The Saem
Tub with Lid Tub with Lid Tub with Lid Tub with Lid Plastic Tube Silicon Tube

Let’s start with the tubes, shall we? Etude House & The Saem are squeeze tube packaging, but they are vastly different. Etude House is made from a durable plastic while The Saem is contained in flimsy silicone. The Saem is easier to dispense, but Etude House is my favorite packaging of all the gels I purchased because it is the most travel-friendly & so durable that it is the least likely to ever leak product.

The tub packaging for the other four are nearly identical. All are presented in hard plastic tubs with screw-on lids. The only difference is three are in circular jars while Missha has an oblong shape, which I find to be beneficial. The Missha jar feels like it is the most securely closed & slightly more difficult to unscrew the lid so it would be less likely to leak if traveling with this gel.

I only had packaging related issues with one product, Nature Republic. There may be a production defect with my jar, but it still the most cheaply made packaging of all the gels in this comparison. The jar was already leaking when it arrived in my mailbox & it never seemed to stop until I used half of its contents. The lid does not screw-on smoothly either, making it exceeding difficult to securely shut the jar.

Ingredients

 

Missha Goodal Nature Republic The Face Shop Etude House The Saem
Aloe % 95% 95% 92% 99% 99% 95%
Other Ingredients 35 18 20 33 11 32
Cosdna 1 Irritant, 1 Acne Unlisted 1 Irritant, 2 Acne 1 Irritant, 2 Acne 1 Irritant, 1 Acne 2 Irritants, 1 Acne

Alcohol Free: Missha, Goodal & Etude House

I was surprised Missha was alcohol-free because it had one of the fastest dry down times of all the gels I tested so if you want a quick absorbing gel that is alcohol-free, definitely choose this one. Etude House & Goodal take slightly longer to absorb, but both are marginally more hydrating as well.

I found the gels that contained alcohol were not nearly as hydrating or comfortable after application. The Saem felt the most drying & my skin felt taut after absorption, particularly on hands & chest. Nature Republic was quite drying as well, The Face Shop was the only gel containing alcohol that felt comfortable after application.

Silicone Free: Missha, Goodal, Nature Republic, Etude House & The Saem

The Face Shop is the only gel containing silicon. This is important to me because certain cosmetic grades can be comedogenic & it is one of my few acne triggers so I avoid it when possible. It does make sense why The Face Shop felt so moisturizing & comfortable despite it containing high concentration of alcohol because silicon is a water-binding emollient.

Oil Free: The Face Shop, Etude House & The Saem

Opinions on oils vary greatly depending on skin types. I love botanical oils as someone with dehydrated skin. However, certain oils can be comedogenic so acne-prone types may try to avoid it in cosmetics.

If you have dehydrated skin, I would recommend Missha if you are looking for a good aloe gel that contains oils as well.

I enjoyed The Face Shop & Etude House for oil-free options because I found both to have relatively long-lasting moisture, though I would give slight favor to Etude House because it has more hydration ingredients & it is alcohol-free.

There are only two of the gels that contain oils you may want to approach with caution. Nature Republic contains citrus extracts, which can cause irritation when exposed to the sun. Goodal contains a few oils have shown skin irritation in peer-reviewed studies, such as rosemary & lavender oils.

Fragrance Free: Etude House

I was disappointed to see only one of these products was free of artificial fragrance. Natural aloe has such a fresh & neutral scent, why not take advantage of that instead of adding conflicting scents? The majority of the product had mild scents, except Nature Republic & Goodal were quite strong.

I found Nature Republic to be the most heavily fragranced, I knew alcohol was high on the ingredient list before I even looked at the packaging because it smelled as sterile as a hospital.

The Saem & The Face Shop contain spearmint extract so a faint cooling sensation during application is completely normal, though you may want to avoid these products if you do not like the tingling.

Artificial Dye Free: All

Paraben Free: All

Misc. Ingredient Notes:

We have some misleading advertisements amongst us in gel-form!

  • Etude House 99% Aloe Soothing Gel. Notice the 99% Aloe in its namesake? Turnover the tube & look at the ingredient list, only 93.5% of aloe is listed.
  • Do the same for The Face Shop Jeju Aloe 99% Fresh Soothing Gel, only 92% aloe is listed in the ingredient list.

None of the other gels have the exact amount of gel listed, but now I do not have faith in any of them. Thanks for the trust issues, Etude House & The Face Shop!

Value

Prices will vary depending where you shop & any associated shipping costs, below are the prices I paid on Jolse [Free shipping]:

Missha Goodal Nature Republic The Face Shop Etude House The Saem
$8.91 / 300ml $11.88 / 300ml $10.18 / 300ml $9.25 / 300ml $10.38 / 250ml $8.78 / 250ml
$0.88 per Ounce $1.17 per Ounce $1.00 per Ounce $0.91 per Ounce $1.23 per Ounce $1.04 per Ounce

Initial Cheapest: The Saem

Most Economical: Missha

Easiest Accessibility: Missha

I like to take a holistic approach during consideration when purchasing cosmetics. I compare the amount of product with the price, I consider how easily  can get this product if I fall in love with it & would like to repurchase, and the ingredient list is one of most important personal factors I consider when determining what I am willing to pay for a product.

Shopping is a very personal experience though, just like anything else.

A university student or young family may have a tighter budget so it is completely valid to be concerned more with the initial purchase price of a product than the amount of product received for your dollar. Someone that enjoys constantly trying new cosmetics may not care how easily they can repurchase this product again.

Overall

I do not like recommending one specific product over others when I am doing a comparison review because skincare & purchasing power are such individual experiences. I have dry skin & I care more about cosmetics containing humectant ingredients than the price tag so my needs & wants are likely different from your own. Below will be a quicky & dirty product recommendation for various potential preferences, along with my personal rankings of the aloe gels.

  • Most Cost Efficient: Missha
  • Longest Lasting Hydration: Etude House
  • Best Travel Packaging: Etude House
  • Least Fragranced: Etude House
  • Most Accessible: Missha
  • Fastest Absorption: Nature Republic
  • Least Comedogenic: Etude House
  • Best Ingredients: Etude House
  • Most Moisturizing:  Etude House

My Personal Ranking:

1. Etude House 99% Aloe Soothing Gel

It has the best ingredient list, it is one of the most expensive gels in this comparison though it is worth it. It would be ideal for dry & acne-prone skin, it contains anti-aging humectants & possesses the shortest ingredient list with the least amount of acne triggers.

2. Missha Premium 95% Aloe Soothing Gel

This is the cheapest & most accessible gel, it has the quickest absorption time even though it is alcohol-free. The vast humectants & botanical oils contained in this product make it ideal for dry & dehydrated skin, but it has the longest ingredient list out of all these gels so acne-prone or sensitive skin types may want to beware.

3. The Face Shop Jeju 99% Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel

This is where I start venturing into decent product, but personally would not repurchase territory. I liked the gel, I found it to be hydrating even though it contains alcohol. It has a slightly cooling sensation due the spearmint ingredients that some people really enjoy, but I do not. Oily or acne-prone skin types may prefer this gel because it is oil free.

4. Goodal 95% Aloe Soothing Gel

Even though I prefer alcohol-free products like this one, the scent & high price tag were major turn-offs for me.

5. Nature Republic Jeju 99% Aloe Fresh Soothing Gel

This was the most heavily fragranced gel of the all, it felt drying on my skin & this is the only gel where I have had issues with the packaging. I reach for this gel the least because it is so messy to use due to the packaging flaws.

6. The Saem Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel

This gel is my least favorite because I am the most hesitant to keep putting this one on my skin, it contains the most irritants & I can tell there is a high alcohol content just from how drying I find this product on my skin. It has an extremely antiseptic smell, though there is no perfume scent like the Nature Republic gel. This is the initial cheapest product of all the gels so someone with a tight budget may prefer this one.

7 Comments

  1. This post is so useful!! I can tell you spent a long time testing the products out so thanks for that. 🙂 I haven’t tried K-beauty aloe gel before but it is one of my favourite special product that I use when my skin is inflamed/a bit sunburnt.

    It’s a shame about the Nature Republic one because that’s the only one I’ve heard about (quite positively too) but I will take caution now and most likely avoid it – I can’t stand fragranced skincare these days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you found it helpful! I can be so lazy about body care, but the aloe absorbs so much more quickly than traditional body moisturizer so it’s better than nothing.

      I find I am getting less and less tolerant of fragrance, I have not tried too many Nature Republic products so idea if that is normal for their cosmetics or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, I just had a rummage through my drawer and realised that I had bought 2 Nature Republic masks from TK Maxx 😝 I’ll have to try them soon and let you know if they have strong fragrance or not!

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. euredike says

    Danke für diesen Bericht. Bei der Masse an Aloe Vera Soothing verliert man schnell den Überblick und da ich es für Sonnen gestresste Haut haben möchte ist die Auflistung hier hervorragend. Ich habe mir gerade Etude House Aloe Vera und Wassermelone bestellt. Ja, bei der Wassermelone hat die Neugier gesiegt. 😄
    Danke noch mal, das hat mir die Entscheidung sehr erleichtert.

    Like

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