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Does alcohol cause skin irritation?

I recently received an email asking me about why a company would include alcohol (denatured) in their skin care formulas.  They were under the impression that alcohol caused skin irritation.  They are not the only ones as the folks at Paula’s Choice list alcohol as a skin irritant.  I had heard this same claim over the years but I’ve also heard the opposite, alcohol does not cause irritation. So I looked into it further. alcohol irritant

Alcohol less irritating than surfactants

In 2007, there was research published in the British Journal of Dermatology which looked at the questions “How irritant is alcohol?”  In the study they did patch testing with anywhere from 60-100% alcohol and compared it to both a positive control (SLS) and a negative control (water).

Their conclusion – Alcohol did not cause skin irritation.

Alcohol-based hand rubs cause less skin irritation than hand washing and are therefore preferred for hand hygiene from the dermatological point of view. An alcohol-based hand rub may even decrease rather than increase skin irritation after a hand wash due to a mechanical partial elimination of the detergent.

This was a small study (only 15 people) but if there was a positive result you could have much more confidence that alcohol was an irritant.

Then I found this chapter in the book Infection Control Updates entitled “Skin Irritation Caused by Alcohol Based Hand Rubs.”  This is really an excellent reference resource as it goes through the biology of skin and the causes of irritation.  But when they looked at alcohol specifically couldn’t find any support for the notion that alcohol caused skin irritation.

The Lancet even recommends using alcohol hand sanitizers.

So, based on the evidence that I could find you should have no problem including denatured alcohol in your topical skin care formulation (at least in regards to skin irritation).



Interview:  Robert Tisserand starts at 2:00

Robert is an international speaker, educator and industry consultant who has helped to bring widespread professional and public recognition to aromatherapy. In the past few years, he has inspired live audiences robert-tisserand-essential-oilson 4 continents, including, in 2014, Prague, San Paulo and Beijing. He tracks all the published research on essential oils, and has 40 years of experience in aromatherapy product development. His 1977 text, The Art of Aromatherapy, has been translated into 11 languages, and his co-authored book Essential Oil Safety is regarded by aromatherapists as the industry standard for safety guidelines.

Join the Essential Oil Course!

Cosmetic Science News

Avoid Papain in your formulations.  It causes skin allergies.


Learn more about the essential oil course

AOCS annual meeting


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Claims for your natural cosmetics

I spoke at the Twin Cities Holistic Seminar last month and then attended their companion trade show.  That’s where a number of cosmetic industry raw material suppliers were showing off their latest “all-natural” cosmetic ingredients, or at least ingredients that could be incorporated into natural cosmetics.

In going through the literature I collected I was struck by all the “natural” claims being made and thought it would be useful to record them here in case any of you are working on an all natural line and need some marketing claims.

Common natural cosmetic marketing claims

Naturally sourced


Not ethoxylated

Boron free – I didn’t even realize boron was a negative thing in the natural world.

Not animal tested

Preservative free

High bio-based content

Sourced from renewable plants

Allergen free

Vegetable based



Ecocert, COSMOS, NPA certified

Created from natural ingredients

Sulfate free surfactants

I’m sure there are more so feel free to post some in the comments.  I’ll try to expand this list over time.

Interested in natural formulating?  See our free natural formulating video series on the subject.

Garmin band


5 Steps For Getting Replacement Raw Materials

There are a number of reasons why you might want to find a replacement for a raw material you currently using.  It could be because the supplier can’t get you the ingredient, you can save money on your formula, the product is no longer stable, or for marketing reasons you want to change.  This is probably the motivation for this forum member who wants to find a natural alternative to petrolatum.  cosmetic-ingredient-alternatives

If you’re going to switch out a raw material you can do it in the most efficient way by following these 5 steps.

1.  Understand what the ingredient does in the formula

If you inherit a formula as most formulators do, there are probably ingredients included for which you are not sure the function.  You need to figure this out before you switch for something new.  Also, you may think you know the function of the ingredient but it could have multiple functions in your formula.  To best figure out the importance of an ingredient for which you want to find a replacement, do a cosmetic knockout experiment, comparing your full formula versus the formula without the target ingredient.  This will give you an idea of the performance impact of the ingredient plus the aesthetic impact on the formula.

2.  Find potential replacements

Once you know the full impact of the ingredient on your formula you can find potential replacements.  The easiest thing to do is to ask your suppliers for their suggested replacements.  Certainly, you should get samples of those ingredients.  But a single ingredient replacement might not work.  You may have to find multiple materials to replace all the functionality of a single ingredient.  For example, Guar Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Chloride has both a conditioning effect and some thickening effect.  Instead of finding a single ingredient to replace it you could find a new thickener (e.g. Hydroxyethylcellulose) plus a conditioning ingredient (e.g. Polyquaternium 7).  Sometimes it’s not a simple replacement.

3.  Create prototypes

Once you get your potential ingredients start making your prototypes.  Ideally, you can make multiple formulas at the same time using the same ingredients.  When you compare replacements you should keep as much the same as possible.  Also, be sure to create a control sample so you know how your new formula compares to your current formula.  Take special note of any manufacturing changes you have to make to incorporate the new ingredient.  This will be important when you write the manufacturing instructions later.

4.  Test prototype functionality

After you’ve made the prototypes you’ll want to test them to see if they function the way you want them to.   See how they compare to your control formula.  Of course, you only need to test the formulas that hold together properly.  If they separate or don’t look right either try again or reject that replacement alternative.

The specific tests you run will depend on the type of formula you are making.  Foam tests for cleansing products, moisturizing tests for moisturizing products, etc.  For all your formulas you should have a standard battery of tests that you routinely conduct and compare your prototypes to those standards.

5.  Test prototype stability

Finally, if any of your replacement ingredient prototypes look promising you’ll want to do a stability test to make sure it stays together.  Having a great functioning product is great but if it isn’t stable you won’t be able to sell it.  I recommend doing functionality tests before stability tests however because there is no point in finding a stable product that doesn’t perform the way you want it.  Plus, you can always fix a formula that has stability issues.  You can’t improve a functional deficit without having to repeat your stability test.  Remember, stability tests should always be the last test you do.

Much of your time as a formulator will be spent finding replacement ingredients either for cost savings reasons, marketing reasons, or just trying to improve your formulas.  Following these 5 steps will help make the process more efficient and effective.



Biochemistry Terms that Cosmetic Chemists Should Know

When I was in high school I learned about cloning and thought it would be a great idea to clone myself.  I wasn’t particularly serious about it however, it was the basis for my choice to study Biology in college.  Clearly, I could have used the services of a better career counselor. cosmetic-epigenetics

Anyway, Biology was a fine enough subject to study.  There is lots of interesting stuff to learn and it was not particularly hard.  Chemistry was much more difficult.  I switched to Chemistry in my second senior year because I had a Chemistry minor and there were more jobs for people with chemistry degrees than biology degrees.

I’m glad I had my background in Biology though because these days concepts from biochemistry are making there way into cosmetic chemistry.  In fact, many of the new, most interesting cosmetic technologies are taking advantage of research done in biochemistry.  As a formulator for skin and hair products, it will be helpful for you to know the meaning of some of these terms so you can both take advantage of new technologies and not be snowed over by the marketing material of your raw material suppliers.

Epigenetics – This is the study of changes in biology that are not the result of genetic differences.  It refers to changes in the transcription of DNA to proteins.  It turns out that genes alone are not the whole explanation for why some proteins are expressed and others aren’t.  This has huge implications for cosmetics as there may be ingredients that can have an influence on the expression of genes.  Look for lots of advance cosmetic technology coming out of this research in the future.  See the wikipedia post on epigenetics for more

Proteomics – This is the study of proteins, their structure and their function.  Lots of research is going on to find proteins that can halt the aging process.  This has the potential to lead to some breakthroughs in topical cosmetic products.  It’s worth checking out the wikipedia entry on proteomics.

Amino Acids – The basic building blocks of life.  These compounds which contain an Amine group and a Carboxylic acid group are strung together to make proteins and everything else in the body.  There are 20 of these that occur naturally and are the basis for all life on Earth. Cosmetic marketers have used amino acids for years as a claims ingredient.  There is scant evidence that they do much more than moisturizing when put on the skin or hair.

Peptides – Any sequence of amino acids made up of less than 50 amino acids strung together.  They could be a useful anti-aging technology but mostly it’s just hype.  We did a whole post on cosmetic peptides.

Proteins – The chemicals the make life work.  They are long chain polymers made up of amino acid building blocks.  They can take on numerous structures depending on the way they fold.  I really believe the future of all cool new raw materials will be based on proteins.  Consumers are familiar with the term even if they don’t know exactly what it means.

Enzymes – A special type of protein that causes some type of biochemical reaction to happen more quickly.  They are catalysts.  Most consumers are familiar with the term but don’t know exactly what it means.  They just know it is some kind of important science.

Protease – An enzyme that breaks down a protein.  Some anti-aging products are said to stop the proteases that break down important skin proteins like collagen and elastin.

Stem Cells – These are basic cells that have not differentiated and can be coaxed into becoming any type of cell in the body.  The stem cells in the dermis are the source of all new skin cells that are produced.  There is a lot of research going on to use stem cells in future treatments but the technology is not particularly advanced.  This hasn’t stopped cosmetic marketers from coming out with products that contain stem cells.  The stem cells aren’t viable and they don’t do much in the formula but consumers have heard of the term and many of them find it a compelling reason to buy the product.  We wrote a post on stem cells in cosmetics.

Bioreactor – This is a technology for mass producing compounds using bacteria, yeast or other microbes. You get the right bacteria strain, feed them, shelter them and they’ll make you all kinds of useful ingredients.  This technology could represent the future of cosmetic ingredients since it has the potential to replace all petroleum derived ingredients.

I’m sure there are more terms and if you think something should be included, leave it in the comments below.  Also, if you wanted even more terms from biochemistry, go see this biochemistry glossary.  It really is a fascinating subject.




Which cosmetic ingredients are animal derived?

When the INCI Dictionary was first published there were about 2000 cosmetic ingredients listed.  The latest edition has over 14,000 ingredients.  Hundreds of new raw materials are added to the INCI dictionary every year, so cosmetic chemists always have something new to try.  This is fortunate because there are a number of ingredients listed in the dictionary that most cosmetic chemists wouldn’t use any cosmetic animal ingredientsmore.  One of the most common type of these “abandoned ingredients” are those derived from animals. A large segment of consumers just do not want ingredients that were once part of an animal.  And cosmetic manufacturers have responded by avoiding all animal derived ingredients.

Avoiding Animal Based Cosmetic Ingredients

But how do you know what cosmetic ingredients are derived from animals?

As a formulator this is information you should get from your ingredient supplier.  Just ask them whether the ingredient is derived from animals or not.  And if you are working on a natural based brand that avoids animal ingredients as part of its marketing story, you should get something in writing from the supplier.

Of course, not every cosmetic ingredient can be derived from animals so it’s useful to know which ones may or may not be animal derived.  Unfortunately, there is no readily available list of animal derived ingredients for people to search.  At least, I thought that was the case.  But indeed there is!  It’s right here.

Animal Derived Cosmetic Ingredient Database

The US government commissioned a company to create a list of all the cosmetic ingredients that might be animal derived and could potentially spread disease.  They were worried about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) the so called “mad cow” disease.

The database contacts records of 273 ingredients that could potentially be derived from animals.  If you have software that can read a database, then you can see it.  But to make things easier for formulators, we’ve converted the list into a spreadsheet.  You can get that spreadsheet of potentially animal derived ingredients here…

Spreadsheet of Animal Derived cosmetic ingredients

Now, some of the ingredients on the list may or may not be animal derived.  For example, Glycerin can be an animal derived ingredient or plant derived.  You’ll have to check with your supplier to be certain.



Types of Peptides in Cosmetics

There are a number of types of ingredients offered to formulators as “active ingredients.” You can find peptides-cosmeticsmolecules claimed to boost collagen production, turn off melanocytes, and even grow hair. In reality, if these ingredients actually worked as they were marketed your cosmetic would be a drug (at least in the USA) and would technically be illegal to sell. However, if you word your claims properly you can incorporate some of these ‘active ingredients’ in a proper way and your marketers can use them to compel consumers to buy. One of the most popular of these “active ingredients” are peptides. In this post we’ll look at peptides a little more in-depth.

Cosmetic peptides

If you’ve taken any biology or biochemistry you’ve heard the word peptide. Most cosmetic consumers have also heard the word peptide as they’ve been included in marketing stories for decades. The term peptide is the generic name given to a short string of amino acids. Recall that amino acids are the basic monomers used to create all proteins.

Peptides are different from proteins in that they are much shorter and don’t have the same type of secondary folding structures. As a rule of thumb, if there are 50 or fewer amino acids hooked together the chain is called peptide. If there are more than 50 it’s called a protein. Proteins can be VERY large and are organized in such a way that they have biological properties (for example proteins are components of hair and skin.) Some peptides occur naturally in your body and others are made synthetically to mimic the function of natural peptides.

Why are peptides used?

Peptides are used in cosmetics for a variety of reasons depending on the type of peptide used. We’ll dive deeper into the different types but the primary reasons for including peptides in formulas include anti-aging effects, anti-irritation effects, and marketing. The most effective of these reasons is the marketing story that the peptides allow you to tell. But there is at least some evidence that peptides in cosmetics have some effect.

Types of peptides

There are four types of peptides including signal peptides, carrier peptides, neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides, and enzyme inhibitor peptides.

Neurotransmitter inhibitors
These peptides are added to cosmetics to reduce wrinkles because they inhibit acetylcholine release by a variety of chemical interactions. The most extreme neurotransmitter include the poison Curare and the Botulism toxin (Botox). Less invasive versions have been developed for use on skin and the hypothesis is that they relax the muscles of facial expression so they don’t contract as much which causes wrinkles to relax. These neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides have been shown to reduce certain types of wrinkles by approximately 30% (in in vivo studies.)

Signal peptides
These peptides are added to skin cosmetics because they can stimulate skin fibroblasts to produce more collagen, elastin, and other proteins in the matrix of the dermis. Boosting these structure proteins makes skin look firmer and fuller. GHK is an example of a signal peptide and it was one of the first peptides discovered – it was originally isolated from human plasma in the early 1970s and it’s wound healing properties were first observed in mid 80s- which goes to show that this technology is relatively new. These days the ingredient is synthetically engineered.

Carrier peptides
These peptides deliver trace elements, like copper and magnesium, which help with wound repair and enzymatic processes. These trace elements have been shown to improve pro collagen synthesis, the elasticity of skin, and overall skin appearance. For example, a copper complex is made of amino acids glycine, histamine, and lysine and is used in the treatment of diabetic neuropathic ulcers. These are sometimes called “penetrating peptides” or “membrane transduction peptides.” GHK-Cu which is a copper carrier has been used for firming skin.

Enzyme inhibitor peptides
Enzyme inhibitor peptides can reduce the breakdown of collagen and other proteins by interfering with processes that break down those proteins. For example, some enzymes (such as MMP or Matrix Metalloprotease) degrade structural proteins like collagen. A peptide derived from rice proteins can inhibit the activity of the MMP enzyme and thus keep more collagen around. Peptides derived from soy proteins can also work to inhibit enzymes, specifically proteases. They may have some potential for inhibiting hair growth and reducing pigmentation.

Do peptides in cosmetics work?

Well, this really depends on what you mean by “work”. From a marketing standpoint they definitely work to sell products.

From a cosmetic standpoint, they really aren’t allowed to work. If the mechanism by which these ingredients are said to work is actually true, then these products would be considered drugs not cosmetics. It’s a case where if the products work as they say then they would be misbranded drugs. But if they are cosmetics, they don’t work.

You still may be wondering what the scientific evidence says about the effectiveness of these ingredients. This is a little more difficult to discover as there are so many different compounds.

There is some evidence that GHK-Cu can have a firming effect on skin when topically applied.
There is also evidence that Palmitoyl Pentapeptide helps with collagen synthesis, Pentapeptide 3 can work like Botox and Rice & Soy Peptides can work to reduce pigmentation, hair growth and other things. But whether they really work when delivered from cosmetics is debatable. Perhaps this is an area where formulators can have some real impact.

But remember, if your product works it’s probably an illegal drug.


Cosmetic Compliance Summit Returns this April 27-29

This cosmetic industry’s premier event, taking place April 27-29 in New Jersey, is designed to be your #1 information source positioned to not only address where your organization stands on compliance, but how you are continuing to look at the scope of regulatory affairs that span across the globe.

We listened carefully to your feedback, and have been busy the last few months developing an agenda that will give you powerful examples of how industry stakeholders of personal care and cosmetic companies around the world have improved existing frameworks for compliance, and are continuing to explore new strategies that will safeguard against market volatility and risk.

For more information click here

Topic Highlights for 2015 Include:

* Packaging and Labelling for the Cosmetics Industry; Latest Trends and Innovations that Correlate with your Organization’s Compliance Initiatives

* Latest list of Exempt Chemical Substances and their Alternatives in 2015

* Production of a Cosmetic Product Safety Report and Clarification of Global Guidelines
Good Manufacturing Practices and Alternatives to Animal Testing on the Global Scale: Upholding Your Company’s Compliance Initiative

* Improving the Safety of Cosmetics: Update to Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009

* Monitoring Compliance and Product Information – Standards for Market Entry, Approval, and Post-market Surveillance

Don?t miss out on the highly interactive workshops, case studies, keynotes and panel discussions that are designed to foster a continuous development atmosphere for the cosmetic and personal care industry. Download Today at www.CosmeticsCompliance.com


Featured Speakers Include:

* Patricia Hansen, Deputy Director, Office of Cosmetics and Colors, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

* Pam Busiek, President, ICMAD (Independent Cosmetics Manufacturers Association)

* Paola Becvar, Senior Regulatory Specialist; Latin America, Energizer Personal Care

* Victoria Tu, Senior Director, Global Product Safety, Regulatory, & Microbiology Revlon

* Irena Peric, Project Manager, Global Regulatory Affairs, Young Living Essentials

* Laurie Welsh, Director, Coty Testing Institute and Fragrance Science, COTY

* Vasanti Raman, Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs, MURAD

* Suzanne Roberta, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Adesse Global Cosmetics

* Laurie Pan, Senior Director, Product Safety, Regulatory Affairs, Sally Beauty Company
…and many more!

Exclusive Complimentary Content

Global Regulatory Compliance within Product Lifecycle Speaker Presentation

Pilar Duque, Director, Regulatory Affairs, Mary Kay, discusses key questions, recommendations and product registration timings.


Past Attendee Snapshot
Last year?s inaugural Cosmetic Compliance Summit was a major success. The event brought together industry players from leading cosmetics companies for three days of workshops, panel discussions, case studies and networking. We hope that our impressive attendee list excites you about attending the 2015 Summit, April 27-29 in NYC.

Download Now at www.CosmeticsCompliance.com | Request Via Email at enquiryiqpc@iqpc.com

Cosmetic Compliance News Update

Angela Diesch, a Shareholder with the law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, discusses four recent cosmetic compliance news items.
Download Now at www.CosmeticsCompliance.com | Request Via Email at enquiryiqpc@iqpc.com

Register by February 13th with discount Code: CC_CHEM2015
for rates as low as $1,499!

Website: www.CosmeticsCompliance.com
Email: Send your Registration Form to Enquiryiqpc@iqpc.com
Call: 1-800-882-8684

Make sure to quote your personalized promo code: CC_CHEM2015 when registering

Check out the Cosmetic Compliance USA LinkedIn Group


Cosmetic Chemist Valerie Patton – Podcast Episode 42

Interview:  Valerie Patton – Starts at 2:00  Valerie Patton

Valerie began her cosmetic chemistry career in men’s grooming before transitioning to hair care, her true passion. She has expertise in formulating various hair care applications, and is currently working on the latest research in hair color and oxidative hair color chemistry with top industry experts. Valerie is also responsible for current line item maintenance and loves her job troubleshooting formulation issues as a “cosmetics detective.”

She is a formulation Chemist at John Paul Mitchell Systems.  She is also currently Chair Elect of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

Follow Valerie on Twitter
Connect with Valerie Patton on LinkedIn

Text of the show

Questions to ask when Getting Raw Materials

What application(s) is this ingredient for?

What have studies shown?

What are recommended use levels of this ingredient?

What pH range is it stable at?

What is it soluble in?

Are there any incompatibilities to be aware of?

Cosmetic Science News

There’s one more topic I wanted to talk about. Have you seen all these beauty bloggers who have started their own lines?

The most famous beauty blogger turned cosmetic brand is Michelle Phan who made a splash last year or the year before by launch a brand with L’Oreal. Well there are others including Emily Weiss who has a line of moisturizers and lip balms, Cara Brook who has a makeup line, Elizabeth Dehn who has a line of Organic beauty products, and a surprising entry…a guy, Eric Bandholz who has a brand called Beardbrand. He’s got a red beard and a good following so I guess that makes sense.

I’ll be curious to see how these brands do. I mean if you can get a following on the Internet you should be able to get enough consumers to buy your stuff.

I’m often asked why we at the Beauty Brains haven’t launched a product line or even why more cosmetic chemists don’t launch their lines. Have you ever thought of it?

Yeah, it seems like almost every cosmetic chemist has. It just makes sense.
But there are a number of reasons why a cosmetic chemist might not want to launch their own line.


First, you can still join our Natural Formulating course. This is a course that teaches you how to create cosmetics that can be sold as ‘natural’ cosmetics. If you are serious about following a natural product marketing spin, this is the class you need. It’s filling up fast and if you’re listening to this show in the future it might be closed to new students. To find out more information go to Chemists Corner.com/natural

And finally, I’ll also be giving a one day seminar on Cosmetic Product Development on April 13th in New York at the SCC headquarters. Go to scconline.org for more information.

As always, feel free to post questions or comments in our cosmetic science forum. We are up over 1000 discussions and it’s still free to join.

Also, follow us on Twitter (Chemistscorner) and like us on Facebook.


Is Aloe Vera Effective in Cosmetics?

Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera Gel. Aloe Vera Juice. Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice. There are even more names here for this nearly ubiquitous ingredient found in both skin and hair care formulations.  Many people swear by it claiming all kinds of benefits for aloe including things like being good for burns, wound healing and even hair growth!  But as a formulator you have to wonder, does aloe vera really do anything when delivered from a topical cosmetic formula?  aloe-plant-cosmetics

Warranted Skepticism

Before I got into the cosmetic industry I had the impression that aloe was something you should use on burns because it can make the injury feel better and help with healing.  In fact, my mother used to keep an aloe plant for this reason and the idea was drummed into my head for years.  But when I got into the cosmetic industry and learned about claims ingredients I began to get a bit skeptical.  Especially when I learned that we were putting Aloe in our shampoos at a level of 0.1% of a 1% solution.  Therefore, the actual amount of aloe in that shampoo was 0.001%.  With the rest of the formula SLS and Lauramide DEA it didn’t seem reasonable that the Aloe was doing much of anything (except getting people to buy the product).

Of course, just because the Aloe wasn’t doing anything in a hair care product when used at really low levels that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t do anything in a product when used at a higher level or when used in a leave-on formula like a skin lotion.  So, I was still left with the question, does Aloe Vera do anything when delivered from a topical cosmetic product?

Go with your gut

My gut feeling has been that it doesn’t.  I generally discount claims about any folkloric ingredient as they are almost overwhelmingly non-scientific and non-verified.  Just because an ingredient has been used for some purpose for thousands of years doesn’t mean that it actually has the claimed effect.  Which also means that just because my mother put Aloe on my burns when I was a kid doesn’t mean that it was having much of an effect beyond a placebo, psychological one.  But despite my skepticism I’ve remained curious.

Aloe Vera research

It turns out I’m not the only one.  Researchers have been investigating the effectiveness of aloe for years.  Here is an article I stumbled on published in the British Journal of General Practice (medicine) which does a systematic review of all the clinical trial research done on aloe vera.  And here is what they found…

Ten clinically controlled research studies were found in published literature.  They ignored all the studies that were not controlled which is what you would want to do if you are looking at what science has to say about a subject.  There were only a set number of claims they could find data about.

1.  Wound healing – It was unclear whether wound healing was promoted by using aloe.  Some studies suggested it was, other larger studies said it wasn’t.

2.  Genital herpes – It could be effective for treating this condition

3.  Psoriasis – It could be effective for treating this condition.

Of course, in all cases the researchers concluded that there was not sufficient data to make any firm conclusions.

I looked through the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists and couldn’t find any real research done on looking at the effectiveness of aloe.  Other sources about aloe similarly resulted in little data to support many of the claims made by supporters of aloe.

Does aloe do anything in a cosmetic?

As far as I could find…not likely.  Based on the best science about the subject there is no real good reason to include Aloe in your formulas except for the purposes of making a claim.  And if you’re using it as a claims ingredient you don’t have to add more than 0.001% to do that.  If you’re putting in more than that, you’re probably wasting money.