Is aloe vera gel the same as oil?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and skin care properties. Both the gel and oil from aloe vera can provide benefits, but they are obtained from different parts of the plant and have distinct compositions and uses.


Aloe vera gel is a clear, jelly-like substance that is extracted from the inner leaf of the aloe plant. It contains over 75 active compounds including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, lignin, saponins, and amino acids. The main active compounds in aloe gel include:

  • Polysaccharides – Provide hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and healing benefits
  • Gibberellins – Anti-inflammatory and healing compounds
  • Glycoproteins – Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Salicylic acid – Removes dead skin cells

In contrast, aloe vera oil is extracted from the resin channels found in the aloe leaf skin. The main components of aloe oil include:

  • Fatty acids – Nourish and replenish the skin
  • Phenolic compounds – Provide antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Sterols – Promote healing of skin tissue

While both provide benefits, aloe gel and oil have distinct compositions, textures, and uses. Understanding the differences between the two can help determine which is best for your needs.

Extraction Methods

Aloe gel and oil are extracted using different parts of the aloe vera plant:

Aloe Vera Gel

  • Extracted from the inner leaf pulp of aloe plants
  • Obtained by crushing or grinding the entire aloe leaf
  • Draining the liquid or filtering out the pulp leaves a gel-like substance

Aloe Vera Oil

  • Extracted from the outer rind of the aloe leaf
  • Made by separating the rind and resin channels from the leaf
  • Simmering or cold pressing the aloe rind yields an oil

The extraction process concentrates different active compounds found in separate parts of the aloe plant, leading to distinct therapeutic qualities in the gel and oil.

Appearance and Texture

In addition to coming from different parts of the plant, aloe gel and oil have unique appearances and textures:

Aloe Vera Gel

  • Has a clear, gelatinous, viscous texture similar to an egg white
  • At least 98-99% water
  • Quickly absorbed into the skin
  • Leaves no oily residue

Aloe Vera Oil

  • Has a yellow, orange, or brown appearance depending on processing
  • Thicker, more viscous texture compared to other plant oils
  • May leave an oily or waxy feeling on the skin

These textural differences also make aloe gel and oil suitable for slightly different topical uses.

Chemical Composition

The distinct chemical makeups of aloe gel and oil impart their differing therapeutic qualities:

Aloe Vera Gel

  • Over 98% water
  • Contains polysaccharides, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other plant compounds
  • High concentrations of antioxidants
  • Natural hydrating and nourishing qualities

Aloe Vera Oil

  • Mainly fatty acids and phenolic compounds
  • Higher levels of sterols compared to aloe gel
  • Antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Ability to penetrate deeply into skin

This breakdown displays why aloe gel and oil can target different skin and health concerns based on their active ingredients.

Benefits and Uses

The unique compositions of aloe gel and oil lend themselves to different benefits and applications:

Aloe Vera Gel Benefits and Uses

  • Hydrates and nourishes skin
  • Soothes burns, irritation, and inflammation
  • Accelerates wound healing
  • Contains antioxidants that fight skin aging
  • Applied topically to face, hair, hands, cuts, sunburns

Aloe Vera Oil Benefits and Uses

  • Deeply moisturizes and conditions skin and hair
  • Treats acne, psoriasis, dermatitis
  • Reduces appearance of scars and stretch marks
  • Promotes skin regeneration and healing
  • Applied topically to dry skin, scalp, cuticles, nails

While aloe gel is ideal for soothing and hydrating irritated or damaged skin, aloe oil penetrates deeper to intensely nourish and regenerate skin at the cellular level.

Comparison Table

This table summarizes some of the key differences between aloe vera gel and oil:

Characteristic Aloe Vera Gel Aloe Vera Oil
Source of extraction Inner leaf pulp Outer leaf rind/skin
Extraction method Crushing or grinding leaves Simmering or cold pressing rinds
Appearance Clear, gel-like Varies – yellow, orange, brown
Texture Watery, absorbs quickly Viscous, oily
Main components Polysaccharides, enzymes Fatty acids, phenols, sterols
Key benefits Hydration, soothing Moisturizing, regeneration
Uses Burns, sunburns, skin irritation Dry skin, acne, scars

This table summarizes some of the key differences between the two aloe vera derivatives. While complementary, their unique properties make each better suited for certain applications.

How to Use Aloe Gel vs. Oil

When using aloe gel or oil on your skin, follow these guidelines:

Using Aloe Gel

  • Apply gel directly to clean skin or diluted with a little water
  • Use enough to cover the affected area with a thin layer
  • Reapply every few hours as needed
  • Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week

Using Aloe Oil

  • Rub 2-3 drops of oil between palms and pat onto clean skin
  • Focus application on cuticles, nails, elbows, and other extra dry areas
  • Use sparingly, as only a little oil is needed
  • Store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months

Test aloe gel or oil on a small skin patch first to check for allergic reactions. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs.

How to Make Aloe Vera Gel and Oil at Home

With fresh aloe leaves, you can make both gel and oil at home with a few simple steps:

Making Aloe Gel

  1. Cut an aloe leaf at the base and place upright in a cup for 10 minutes
  2. Slice off the top rind to reveal the clear inner gel
  3. Scrape off the gel and place in a blender
  4. Blend for 1 minute until smooth
  5. Use a strainer to filter out pulp chunks
  6. Transfer gel to an airtight container and refrigerate

Making Aloe Oil

  1. Slice aloe leaves lengthwise and remove the inner gel
  2. Collect and rinse the outer rinds thoroughly
  3. Chop rinds into 1-inch pieces
  4. Add rinds to a saucepan with coconut or olive oil
  5. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Remove from heat and strain oil
  7. Transfer oil to an airtight container and store away from light

Homemade aloe gel and oil retain more nutrients compared to store-bought varieties. However, exercise caution, as improper processing can allow bacteria growth.

Buying Tips

When purchasing aloe gel or oil, look for:

Aloe Gel

  • 100% pure inner leaf aloe vera gel
  • Free from added colors, fragrance, and thickeners
  • Processed using cold pressing or flash pasteurization
  • Sold refrigerated or frozen

Aloe Oil

  • 100% aloe vera oil, ideally organic
  • Hexane-free extraction methods
  • Dark amber glass bottles to limit light exposure
  • No added synthetic ingredients or diluents

Check labeling to verify purity and avoid products with added fillers or preservatives. Refrigerated gel and oils in dark bottles help maintain freshness and potency.


While aloe gel and oil both provide skin and health benefits, they have distinct sources, textures, compositions, and uses. Aloe gel’s water-based polysaccharides make it ideal for hydrating and soothing irritated skin and burns. The fatty acids and sterols in aloe oil allow it to deeply moisturize dry skin and hair while also promoting skin regeneration. Determine whether a light, absorbing gel or richer, penetrating oil is a better fit before incorporating aloe vera into your health and beauty regime.

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