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Are Pink and Red Aloe Vera Gels and Juices Safe?

Stockton Aloe vera juice and gel

YOU WANT ALOE VERA PRODUCTS with the most effective, health-promoting benefits you can find, and Stockton Aloe is in the business of cultivating and processing the most beneficial variety of Aloe vera known—barbadensis miller-stockton.

One might reason, then, that Stockton Aloe’s owner, Dr. Michael Haley, knows the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions about Aloe vera … so, we asked him.

Here is the question and Doctor Haley’s response:

Why is raw Aloe vera gel sometimes pink, or even red, in color?

Well, I don’t know … not entirely anyway. But I will try to explain what I have discovered about why Aloe gel (and, therefore, Aloe juice) comes in different colors.Stockton Aloe vera juice and gel

First, let’s talk about something that definitely does not cause the color difference: Pathogenic Bacteria.

When you buy fresh organic vegetables, you not only get the plants, but also the naturally occurring bacteria from the soil in which they were grown. Many people would say that is not a problem at all. In fact, it is a primary benefit of consuming raw, living foods.

The most important questions to ask about raw foods are:

How much bacteria is present? There are certain levels of bacteria that are acceptable, and there are levels that are not acceptable. If you purchase salad and leave it in your refrigerator too long, eventually your sight, smell, and taste will let you know the bacteria levels have become too high. Rotting occurs due to bacteria, and you don’t need a scientist to tell you when that process has become too advanced.

What strains are present? Some bacteria are beneficial, some are harmful (pathogenic), and some have no real effect on the human body, being destroyed quickly in the gut and turned into waste. It is the pathogenic bacteria you want to avoid—certain strains of E. coli for instance. E. coli does not occur naturally in vegetation, but can be transferred to the plants from animal feces. The beneficial bacteria are called “probiotic.” They are healthy for you. L. acidophilus is a well-known strain of probiotic bacteria. Sometimes in vegetables, the bacteria are nurtured and cultured to naturally preserve and increase many health benefits. Making Sauerkraut is an example.

Should I play it safe and only eat pasteurized or irradiated foods? Some bacteria are good for you and some are not. Pasteurization (elevated temperatures) and irradiation (exposure to radiation) kill both kinds indiscriminately; moreover those processes can change the internal structure of the food and render it far less valuable for your health. As a general rule, the closer you can get to the natural state of foods, the better they are for you. At Stockton Aloe, we test every batch of Aloe gel for harmful bacteria—and livestock is not allowed on the plantation. One of the ways nature protects Aloe is by furnishing the plants with pointed, cactus-like spurs that tell animals to “Stay back!”

Viscosity: Mucopolysaccharides are super-long-chain sugar molecules that help stabilize blood sugar levels, lubricate joints, and manage arthritis. As the mucopolysaccharides get consumed by bacteria the viscosity of Aloe vera gel decreases. Raw Aloe starts out rather viscous. However, after 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator, the bacteria counts increase and the mucopolysaccharides decrease. Red or pink Aloe tends to be more viscous. WARNING: Some Aloe drinks have thickeners added to simulate viscosity.

So why does Aloe vera turn pink?

This has been the question that has plagued us for quite some time. We have cut into fresh Aloe leaves and watched portions turn pink right before our eyes. We have also seen pink Aloe turn translucent again, right before our eyes. Swirling the Aloe as it is turning clear seems to quicken the process. But reproducing color changes in Aloe, is difficult, and nearly an impossible, feat. However we did capture on video aloe returning from red back to white again:

Most people experienced with raw Aloe say the color change is related to a rapid change in temperature. However, this too is something we have been unable to duplicate, even by subjecting fresh filleted leaves to rapid chilling.

We have also observed color changes in the leaves of Aloe plants themselves. The leaves are usually green, but they often appear quite red. This seems to be the case when they are getting abundant sunshine. Light can certainly be a catalyst in chemistry. Our bodies use sunlight to convert 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D.

An interesting observation from the laboratory is that certain nutrients change color as they convert from one form to another, and vitamin B12 is associated with the colors pink and red. If our Aloe was shown to provide significant levels of B12, that would be great news for vegans. B12  is most normally associated with animal foods and can be difficult to obtain in a vegan diet. We don’t know whether B12 is a factor, and we are certainly not making the claim—yet it is an interesting possibility, one that needs more study.

In summary, many customers prefer the pink or red Aloe because it tends to smell and taste better, it tends to have a thicker viscosity, and they believe it may possess even more health benefits than translucent Aloe. This is not a request that we can always fulfill, however, since we only have a small percentage of Aloe that is pink or red. We ship our Aloe as soon as possible after the order is received, and we do not differentiate by color. We send the freshest Aloe available, not the most colorful.

We know only a little, but we have not given up on trying to solve the mystery. One of the marvelous things about Aloe vera is that it refuses to yield its secrets to scientists. In one way, that is a good thing: if the pharmaceutical giants could figure out how to duplicate the many healing potentialities of Aloe, they would create a synthetic form of the plant and find a way to market it at hyper-inflated prices on a prescription basis. Even if that were to happen, though, the wisest consumers would still prefer the whole plant—Aloe barbadensis Stockton-miller—over the Madison Avenue variety.

52 thoughts on “Are Pink and Red Aloe Vera Gels and Juices Safe?

  1. I grow aloe plants myself for internal consumption. I usually cut the biggest leaves off first 4 or 5 at a time and place them in my refrigerator. I noticed If I leave them in the refrigerator for over a month the gel will turn red/pink color. seems to be something with temperature?

  2. Dr. Haley, I flew from Denver, the mile high city, to under Sea level New Orleans the other day. In my luggage was a piece of aloe in a plastic ziplock bag. On arrival, the bag was guarter filled with a red liquid. Altitude? Cabin pressure? Temperature in cargo? Is it still good to use on the skin and how to store.? Would appreciate your answers. Thanks, Alison

    1. The fact that it is red doesn’t have much to do with whether or not it is safe for the skin… but rather, what may have grown in the aloe on the trip. Unpreserved aloe will have things growing in it – yeast, bacteria, and mold. Whether or not these creatures and spores are pathogenic is really what will determine whether or not it is OK to put on the skin. The ziplock bag may have helped retain the aloe and prevent it from getting out. But certainly bacteria entered the bag with the aloe on the way in. The temperature was probably conducive to further growth of these things.

      A fresh leaf is probably the best solution to your dilemma.

      1. Hi ; I use aloe pure juice for my face skin. How long can I store it out of the fridge?
        Is it safe to use it after one week out of the fridge with a pink-red color?

        1. the color doesn’t tell me much about the microbiology that might be present in your aloe juice. Therefore, we recommend you only use aloe that has been kept cold to keep microbiology counts down and that you only store it in the fridge one or two weeks. If you want to keep it longer than that, freezing it promptly after the fillet process will keep it much longer.

          1. Thank you so much for answering my question

          2. Hi. I put my aloe in the fridge in Tupperware and it is a darker pink. Should I dispose of it or is it still able to be used? If not, what is a safer antibacterial way of preserving my aloe?

          3. Unprocessed Aloe vera frequently turns pink. It is not bad because it is pink. Regarding antibacterial… keeping it frozen keeps counts down. Bacteria counts still increase in the fridge quite a bit. We recommend no longer than 10 days in the fridge but up to a year in the freezer.

  3. I have collected about 4 cups of aloe vera gel from my plants I have. I put the gel into the fridge, now it is about 3 weeks ago.
    Today when I wanted to use the gel to apply for my face/skin, I realised that it has turned into pink colour.
    Can I still use it or do I need to dump it??
    Would appreciate your kind input on that.
    Regards
    Franz Brun

    1. We have consumed raw fileted aloe vera that has turned pink and been in our refrigerator for more than 3 weeks. You are just putting it on your skin. It should be fine. But, if you have the plants, why not just go cut and use the leaves as you need them?

  4. Here is an example of how capricious that color is. A giant aloe plant fell out of its pot and I decided to process it rather than replant it. I puréed in batches in the vitamix, pouring each batch into spigot jars. It took about 6 batches and I filled two gallon jars. I added just a splash of vodka to each as a preservative, and left them on the counter to separate while I went to work. Upon my return one jar was still bright green, and one had turned purple. The only differences I can think of are that jar two had more of the inner leaves of the swirl, and I added an ounce or two of water to the blender pitcher to rinse the last of the plant material out and I added this to the jar. Otherwise, same plant, same processing, same temperature, air pressure, elevation, and overall household ambience. It truly is a mystery!

  5. Very interesting. In this case as I mentioned earlier, I can still use the gel which has turned into pink color.
    After processing the leaves I immediately put the container with the gel into the fridge. Now after about 4 weeks all of a sudan it turned into pink.
    My question, can I still use it to apply on my face or do I have to dispose it???
    Your kind advice is highly appreciated.
    Regards
    Franz

    1. We recommend keeping it frozen to prevent bacteria from growing in it. When bacteria does grow, it is usually harmless unless your aloe was contaminated by pathogenic bacteria. Vodka, as you used to preserve, may prevent some bacteria from growing… but alcohol is also a by-product of fermentation and bacteria continue to multiply… making more alcohol. So I don’t know how effective it is. It is probably harmless and probably beneficial… but I would go for fresh. Alternatively, a stabilized aloe vera that uses natural preservatives it always nice to have on hand. I prefer the Youth-Derm Ultra Healing for face and the basic Youth Derm for body. The “Ultra” is lighter and has less coconut oil in it which is better where humidity is high. In arid places, the basic formula really helps moisturize.

  6. I am new to using the fresh Aloe plant. I recently bought a large aloe vera leaf at a produce store. When I sliced it open to get the gel out I noticed that the pulp was hardened and it was a brownish color. I assumed that mean it was old or as you replied to others was contaminated with bacteria. I threw it away.

    I want to use the aloe on my hair. Is the general rule of thumb that the gel inside should be clear?

    thank you.

    1. This video shows you what probably went wrong: http://youtu.be/VAQOBYDh9wg

  7. Fresh aloe vera gel from a home plant that was cut and sanitary, immediately applied to a patch of raw, scraped skin that had been thoroughly cleaned with saline and just before that had been under a thick coat of neosporin for 3 hours, TURNED DARK PURPLE WHEN COMING IN CONTACT WITH THE FRESH ALOE. Aloe vera turned my skin dark purple, although it still soothed and seemed to help the healing. Yet, the scrapes places are DARK PURPLE LINES that will not fade or wash or change back. It is the new pigmentation of the skin. Unless I scrape my skin off, it’s permanent. I have found several other similar stories online. All are definitive about the cause, all reported the EXACT SAME phenomenon and the same affects, and all were dismissed by I there’s, even medical professionals. Why people assume someone is mistaken about their own bodies is always perplexing. I WATCHED ALOE VERA TURN CLEAN, UNINFECTIOUS SKIN THAT WAS MERELY INFLAMED AND SLIGHTLY RAW FROM AN EXTREMELY SUPERFICIAL, ABRASION TURN DARK PURPLE IN FRONT OF MY EYES. In fact, I saw the same reaction twice. I know what I saw and so do several others who have experienced this. Only one blog, out of maybe 20, referenced a chemical reaction between some bios instance in the ant matter and a chemical present on some human skin or excreted by the skin…but it was all in scientific names and I could not interpret it. Have you ever heard of this? How do I turn my skin back to it’s normal color? Please help!

    1. Fascinating, Amy. Could you send me a photo of your purple skin for this page? I am confident it will go away… unless somehow aloe caused it to penetrate like a tattoo… but then again, we have seen the red turn back to white, so who knows.

      1. Have you been able to find an answer to this? I have the same problem on my face when I used fresh aloe on a pimple that popped. It seemed to turn the little bit of blood on the surface this color. It is so terribly hideous and will not go away. Please let me know of any suggestions!

        1. Taylor, after all this time, we have not been able to find the answer. Do you mean that it stained your skin? If so… please stop back by here and comment again with an update… so we can know what to expect when this happens – such as how long it took to go away.

          1. Just wanted to notify you all that the dark pigmentation left from the aloe on my blemish eventually went away. It basically formed a dark scab that went away completely in about 3 days. Hope this helps!!

          2. It sure does help, Taylor. Thank you for stopping back by to tell us.

      2. Do you have any suggestions ? My daughter has purple pigmentation on her upper lip from using aloe on a waxing burn. What should I do?

    2. Amy do you have follow up?

  8. Red color is not a measure of medicinal property in aloes. Generally many species of aloes display red color at drought conditions. The red color occurs due to rodhoxanthin, a red color pigment which develops in parallel with the destruction of chlorophyll at drought conditions. However artificially aloes can be made red with the help of eosin, a red colored dye, by the method of ascent of sap.

    1. I love a good possible scientific explanation. But have you seen the time-lapse video where the aloe that turned pink turns white again? If rodhoxanthin is responsible for the red hue, it must be reacting with some other nutrient… flipping back and forth to either be present or not all at the same time (or nearly the same time).

  9. I am from Sri Lanka.I have many red aloe vera plants. Here,people used to sell red aloe vera at unusually high prices. Is their any specific medicinal value of this species, which is endemic to Sri Lanka?

    1. I’m certain there is… but do not know the species nor how it compares to other aloe species.

    2. When aloevera is mixed with avaveRum, it turn red. Thus, posible because of the viscousity of the rum, it self. When aloe turn pink or red without any other mix due; I be live the different colors of the clear aloe is presented, and it reaction, depend on the ambient temperarure. In another word aloevera gel react like a body of a cameleon. When it takes the color of it’s sorroumding. Like a christal germ that can capture the colors on you eyes. Thus alldough it’s turn on back to clear. I have a question? Do you think aloevera is alive?Lin-lins in facebook.

  10. I bought a big aloe leaf from my local asian market today. I’d never scraped it straight from the plant, so when I discovered it was a deep beet pink color, I just assumed it came that way.
    I slapped some on my face, as did my grandma, and soon enough my grandma said the aloe was a bit itchy on her jawline. So I looked up to see if pink aloe meant there was something wrong with it.. Looks like I just lucked out with some pretty rare aloe and my grandma is just cooky.
    Got 6oz of gel and juice out of this big ol’ leaf for barely over a dollar.

    1. When I read you comment, Brandi, I thought of this YouTube video about buying aloe vera leaves from the grocery: https://youtu.be/VAQOBYDh9wg

  11. Hello Dr. Haley I buy my aloe very from my supermarket and normally just rinse the other leaf off with some cool water then cut it open. I then use a cheese shredder to get the gel out and put it in a container and refrigerate it. My purpose for using the gel is for my face and hair. My questions are is it ok to leave the gel on my face? I leave it on over night after washing my face and durning the day also after washing my face when I get up. Is there a special way I need to clean the leaf before I cut it? Is it ok to apply the gel once it becomes slightly watery and discolored? I also see you gave advice about freezing it but once you freeze it and take it out won’t water get inside from it defrosting? I will gladly appreciate your answers thank you

    1. Assuming the aloe is uncontaminated and you don’t have any sensitivities to aloe, yes, you can leave it on. I’m confident you are talking about a think layer that dries… probably gives your skin a bit of a tight sensation? If the aloe gel was pink, I probably wouldn’t put it on my face. I’m not sure whether or not my skin would get temporarily discolored.

      Regarding cleaning the gel, Use the technique in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKXLMD2Dv8o

      There is no reason to get the outer leaf aloin in the part you are putting on your face.

  12. Yes it’s a thick layer of gel that dries up and tightens my face. I also watch the video but you say in it to blend the layers then you can drink it. Do I have to blend it after clean it or is this only for if I drink it? Also if I do blend it will it still be a thick gel? If I freeze the gel so it can last longer will it water the gel? Thanks again

    1. Freezing it does not “water the gel”, but rather, attracts condensation… so, that should not be a problem. Of course, fresh gel is always best. No, you don’t have to blend it. You can apply the gel buy using the filet… or even gel from the inside of the green part you cut off… by rubbing it on your skin. Or, you can use the liquid after it has been blended. But blended aloe on your skin might leave it flaky looking from the pulp pieces.

  13. I have about four different kinds of Aloe Vera. One in particular, I cut and the inside always bleeds red although it looks clear when you open it up. I find that it helps with an itching scalp immediately, which I have not been able to see the same immediate results with the others forms of Aloe Vera I have. It is not one of the one I ingest however. I like it better for medicinal purposes.
    Not an expert at all, just making an observation that I thought I would share.

  14. I put aloe vera on my chin after I removed a scab that over that had formed over an inflamed pimple. The area later turned purple and will not wash off. I read the post from “Taylor” but am really concerned if the color will disappear. The color seems “under the skin” and in my pores around the formerly scabbed area. I’m hoping more people have run into this instead of just one person and will respond to this post to let me know that this discoloration is indeed temporary. If anyone has experienced this purple coloring, please PLEASE let me know that this does fade. Thanks!

    1. Any updates Gina? I’ve just had this happen to me this morning.

      1. Carlie, since this is a common issue, would you please stop back and update us in a week or two? So far, we only have this one follow up: https://www.aloe1.com/pink-aloe/#comment-34593

        … I know there are others that experienced this. Please come back and let us know your whole story. Also, will you please take a picture? I haven’t found any purple skin pictures from aloe. That will help others if they are freaking out with there purple skin. Maybe a picture every day of the purple spot… until it’s hopefully gone… soon…

  15. I buy Aloe leaves to cut into pieces that I eat. I have cut into some leaves, and the gel inside is pinkish or red, or with red streaks; Is it safe to eat, or should I throw it out, and eat only clear (white) gel?

    1. Chances are it is an old leaf… but probably won’t harm you. I have heard that the red stains and to NOT use it on cuts because it becomes somewhat permanent… like a tattoo! But I’m not sure this is true. I choose to only consume aloe from leaves that I know are fresh or from freshly frozen aloe vera.

  16. Thank you so much for your reply. I just wanted to ,make sure I was not eating “bad” gel. Much appreciated.

  17. I just thawed fresh aloe cuttings from months ago. I froze with leaf skin on them in smaller pieces. I didnt have time to use them all and didnt want to waste, so i preserved them by washing and freezing them.

    I just now fillet them and the gel is yellowish with redish or pinkish in color.

    I use the edge of a spoon to scrape the thawed gel off the leaf to get close to the leaf itself without the risk of cuttingvthe leaf.

    Id like to use in my smoothies, drinks, or skin. Re freshness…still good to use? If yes, how long in frig will it last?

    Any concerns re color? How should it taste, if still good?

    Would appreciate your feedback

    🙂

    1. The outer leaf contains anti-nutrients that we feel should not be consumed… though many people do use them medicinally to help treat constipation. The outer leaf parts contain the yellow brownish substance that is very bitter.

      When leaves are removed from the plant, the outer leaf parts begin to seep into the gel discoloring it and making it bitter. This is why we recommend removing the gel from the leaf the day the leaf came off the plant. This does not mean that your gel won’t discolor or even sour. But you will see a marked improvement in the color and taste over those that were left in the skin.

      1. Thank u! Once fillet properly, how long can u freeze the gel?

        1. If you grind the gel to a liquid before freezing, it will last longer… since it will fill and shape to the container it is in… minimizing contact with air. As a liquid, more than a year is quite reasonable. But filets will freezer burn much more.

  18. Thank u so much!!!

  19. My daughter cut a aleo vera plant and it looked like it was bleeding is it safe to use

    1. Did she cut it fresh from the living plant… or is it an old leaf?

      1. If my Aloe Vera plant is red or pink could I still use it on my face or throw it away??

        1. People have complained about it staining their skin temporarily… like a day or two.

  20. I put some fresh aloe on my grandaughters foot after a bath , then put her socks on for bed. In the morning the area where the aloe was applied had turned dark purple. Could be toxins coming out?

  21. The reddish/purple staining coming from the aloe is most likely from the variety known as aloe rubroviolacea.

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