The uses for Aloe Vera are numerous and, unlike many of the quack, “natural remedies” out there that do little to nothing outside of the placebo effect, Aloe Vera does work. It also comes in many forms, including gel, and if you have some Aloe Vera gel sitting on a shelf somewhere, you’re probably curious; does Aloe Vera gel expire?

It does have an expiration date and it will generally reach its expiration between 2 and 3 years after you purchase it. Of course, some factors slow down the expiration timeframe as well as factors that speed it up.

For instance, if you leave it sitting on a window sill, exposed to full sunlight every day, that will significantly shorten its viability, as well as storing it in a warm or overly humid environment. Kept cool and in a dry place, Aloe Vera gel will last every bit of its “shelf life,” if not longer.

Shelf life for other Aloe Vera products

Aloe Vera gel isn’t the only formulation that is engineered and mass-produced. Aloe Vera gel is one of the more popular variations, however, especially when it comes to dealing with sunburns and other, minor or first-degree burns.

There are quite a few Aloe Vera products and there is a lot to draw from. After all, there are over 500 species of Aloe Vera out there, many of which are used in various formulas.

  • Aloe Vera Gels
  • Aloe Vera Powders
  • Food Supplements
  • Cosmetics
  • Juice cocktails
  • Direct source

Many of these Aloe Vera categories are broad and illustrative in terms of how pervasive Aloe Vera is when it comes to all of the various products in the retail industry.

We’ve established the fact that Aloe Vera gels, in proper storage conditions, will last you between 2 and 3 years. Aloe Vera powder comes in many varieties, as the leaves from up to 500 species of Aloe Vera are crushed into powder for several uses.

Aloe Vera powders have a shelf life of 2 years and are used in a wide variety of products. If you purchase it in powder form, you can use it in a variety of formulas or combine it with existing lotions, shampoos, conditioners, facials, soaps, and milk baths.

Aloe Vera food supplements are common as well, and the shelf life for food items is dependent on what it is since food is all over the map in terms of longevity. Mostly, however, you will find that Aloe Vera comes in the form of juices, like fruit drinks.

Aloe Vera is frequently used in cosmetics. For instance, Aloe Vera is often used in make-up applications or as an additive. It helps promote hair growth and is frequently used to both grow thicker eyebrows and to accentuate eyebrow liners for a fuller look.

Cosmetically, you are typically going to use the raw Aloe Vera leaf or as a powder combination with liquid makeup options, so the shelf life is the life of your Aloe plant, as well as the longevity of your various, liquid makeup products.

If there’s one thing that you never expected to pull out of your makeup bag, it should be a plastic baggy full of aloe vera leaves. It may look silly but hey, it’s your makeup bag, so do with it what you want.

How to extend Aloe Vera gel shelf life

At most, you will get three years out of your Aloe Vera gel, however, you want to get the maximum longevity out of it and perhaps even extend its efficacy. There are five ways to do this:

  • Store it in a cool location
  • Be sure to always secure the lid, tightly
  • Use non-clear containers or store your gel well away from sunlight
  • Freeze it
  • Freeze the plant itself

The containers come with storage information written on the info panel. By law, the expiration date should also be displayed on the container.

It’s not as if you’re going to eat the gel (please don’t do that) and your skin isn’t going to fall off if you apply it after the expiration date—worst-case scenario, you’ll no longer get any benefits from it—so there’s no harm in attempting to extend your Aloe Vera shelf life.

You certainly want to keep it cool, for however long it lasts, by storing it in an easily accessible location that’s also out of the way. Keeping it in your hot car when you’re not in there is going to severely shorten its longevity.

Securing the lid tightly is paramount, as air exposure will dry the gel out, which makes it useless unless you enjoy applying flaky Aloe Vera on your skin. You can also transfer the Aloe Vera gel—the containers you purchase them in are usually clear—to another non-see-through container.

Buying Aloe Vera gel in bulk is also a fantastic idea because you can simply freeze the excess in ice trays. Stock up on Aloe Vera cubes and store them away for next year’s trip to the beach or a visit to the tanning booth.

You can also freeze the plant itself, thawing it out when you’re ready to put it to good use. You should also seriously consider growing your own Aloe Vera. Once you have a solid supply of your own Aloe Vera plants, the next step is to start making gel.

Make your own Aloe Vera gel

Studio shot of the stunning Aloe vera plant.
Photo by feey / Unsplash

If you want to blow by the expiration date or simply have a limitless supply of Aloe Vera gel, you should get to work making your own. Not only do Aloe Vera products have an expiration date but they also come with additives such as dyes and other GMO-related additives.

Making your own Aloe Vera is the best way to make your Aloe Vera gel last in perpetuity, without all of the harmful additives that nearly defeat the purpose of having Aloe Vera gel, to begin with.

Making your own means that you get the best, non-GMO, perfectly controlled Aloe Vera gel for your skin or other health needs. It’s very simple to make and you only need a few things to get started:

  • Aloe Vera leaves
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Spoon
  • Storage container
  • Blender

If you want, you’re also free to add powdered versions of vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which are very healthy for your skin but, even more importantly, they also act as preservatives. It’s entirely optional but it will make your final gel product last much longer.

You’re free to make as much Aloe gel as you want, so you can even make separate containers with your chosen additives and see which ones are best for you or your friends and family.

Prepare your Aloe leaves

Remove your Aloe leaves at the base and stand them up in a container, with the cut section facing down. You want to leave them standing up for around 15 to 20 minutes, as gravity will drain out the resin within the leaves.

You don’t want the resin in the final product. It contains latex and, although some people aren’t allergic to latex, you will get a product that is purer than you would if you didn’t allow the resin to drain out.

Use your vegetable peeler to remove all of the skin from the resin-drained Aloe leaves.

Make your gel

Scoop up the gel that oozes out after removing the skin from the Aloe leaves and toss it in the blender. Blend the gel until it is very bubbly, then allow it to settle for a while.

Your gel is ready at this point, however, now would be the time to add in your powdered C and E vitamins, blending it all up until it’s a smooth, viscous gel.

If you don’t add the E and C, you can expect your gel to last about a week before it loses its health benefits. There is a ratio for how much you add. For every ¼ cup of gel, add 500mg of vitamin C or 400IU of vitamin E.

The best part about making your own Aloe Vera gel, especially if you preserve it with vitamin E and vitamin C, is that your supply is only limited by how much Aloe Vera you are willing to grow and maintain.

Without the additional preservatives, your homemade gel will last around a week. With E and/or C added, you will get two months before it expires. Remember, store it in a cool, dry place with the lid sealed tight to keep out any air.

Homemade or not, air will dry your Aloe Vera gel out just as it would with store-bought Aloe Vera.

Final thoughts

Aloe Vera is a scientifically proven health benefit for both your skin and your overall health. It also lasts a long time, at 2 to 3 years after purchasing it off the shelf. There are several types of Aloe Vera that you can purchase as well, all with a substantial shelf life of their own.

Last but not least, you can create your own Aloe Vera gel cultivated from your very own garden, lasting you as long as you want to grow and convert Aloe Vera into gels, powders, or as additives.