In this age of information everywhere, we all tend to shy away from products we think are full of chemicals. Because we have more access to information, we know that some product ingredients can be harmful to us or irritating to our skin. However, although some ingredients may seem harsh, sometimes they are necessary to protect our health.
Since we’ve been dealing with a pandemic for almost a year, we’ve likely all exposed ourselves to more bleach and/or cleaning products than we ever thought possible. Many of the tools we use to help keep us safe, like hand sanitizer, can be harsh on skin, and leave our hands feeling dry and cracked from repeated use.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that we might be searching for hand sanitizing products that contain sanitizing agents other than alcohol. One popular alternative to alcohol-based hand sanitizer is lavender hand sanitizer.
Lavender hand sanitizer doesn’t refer to a hand sanitizer that is simply lavender-scented, it refers to hand sanitizer that is formulated with lavender essential oil instead of alcohol, based on the belief that lavender has certain antibacterial properties that will reduce the spread of germs and viruses in the same way an alcohol-based hand sanitizer would.
Hope Health Supply did the research. While we offer hand sanitizer that is formulated with 75% ethyl alcohol, we wanted to know if lavender hand sanitizer was effective at all, if it was more gentle on hands, and if the Centers for Disease Control and/or the World Health Organization thought it was a good idea to use it.
We compiled the information available from both agencies and compared it to the research available for non-alcohol based hand sanitizer rub. Here’s what we learned.
What Makes Hand Sanitizer Effective?
Hand sanitizer is a great way to keep hands germ-free between regular hand washes, but what makes it work?
Hand sanitizer works by lowering the level of bacteria and germs on your hands to an amount that is acceptable in helping reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria. This means it doesn’t completely eliminate germs and bacteria on your hands, but it comes pretty close. Complete elimination of germs and bacteria refers to disinfecting, a practice reserved for surfaces other than your skin.
Hand sanitizer is effective in removing up to 99.99% of all bacteria, germs, and spores from your hands when you use the correct formula and use it correctly.
The question is, does alcohol have to be a part of that formula? The short answer is, yes.
The CDC states that hand sanitizer should have a concentration of 60% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol to be effective in removing germs and bacteria from your hands. If you want to use your hand sanitizer on a non-porous surface, like your phone screen or tablet, the amount of alcohol jumps to 70%.
The World Health Organization echoes this requirement, giving only those two options in its approved hand-rub formula.
The FDA regulates the manufacture and sale of hand sanitizer in the U.S. When hand sanitizer was in short supply, they issued a temporary authorization allowing companies that never manufactured hand sanitizer to make it.
As more companies began distributing hand sanitizer, the FDA found that some companies were using ingredients that weren’t safe, like methanol, a wood alcohol that can be harmful to humans. They now maintain a list of hand sanitizers that contain ingredients that aren’t safe.
Clearly, it’s really important that the sanitizing agent in a hand sanitizer not only be effective in germ reduction, but be safe for use.
Is Lavender Hand Sanitizer Effective?
While there are some studies that show that lavender oil may have antibacterial properties, neither the CDC nor the WHO has affirmed the effects of lavender oil against bacteria and viruses.
Neither agency includes lavender essential oil as an approved or suggested ingredient for use in hand sanitizing rubs. In fact, the CDC clearly states on its website that “alcohol-free” hand sanitizer rubs should not be used. What does that mean?
It means that using a hand sanitizer that does not contain alcohol, but instead contains lavender essential oil, or any other non-alcohol-based sanitizing agent, has not been proven to be effective when it is used in a hand sanitizer rub.
While there may be studies about sanitizing agents other than alcohol, there has yet to be enough convincing evidence for either of the two largest health agencies to suggest using it in lieu of or as an alternative to alcohol-based sanitizing hand rub.
Finding Good Hand Sanitizer
One of the main reasons people look for alternatives to alcohol-based hand sanitizers is because they can be drying, especially when you use them numerous times a day. As such, you can look for better hand sanitizer that includes moisturizing ingredients to keep your hands happy.
Glycerin. If your hand sanitizer is leaving your hands dry, chapped, and even cracking your skin, you should switch to a different brand. Hope Health Supply offers hand sanitizer that is formulated with glycerin to keep your hands soft no matter how many times per day you need to sanitize your hands.
If your hand sanitizer does not include a moisturizing agent, you should definitely switch to one that does. Even the WHO formula suggests the inclusion of a moisturizing agent.
- Wash your hands more often. If you find you are especially sensitive to hand sanitizer, you can opt to wash your hands more than you use hand sanitizer. This can help keep your hands softer than using hand sanitizer every time you want to sanitize your hands.
Can I Make My Own?
You can, but you probably shouldn’t. Even though the WHO released a DIY hand sanitizer recipe at the onset of COVID-19, you shouldn’t try to make your own hand sanitizer unless you simply cannot find any commercially manufactured hand sanitizer available.
There are too many variables when making hand sanitizer; like working in a non-sterile environment, and getting the alcohol concentration correct. If you make a mistake, you could end up with contaminated hand sanitizer, ineffective hand sanitizer, or hand sanitizer that burns your skin.
It’s a better idea to shop with a company you know and trust, like Hope Health Supply. Our prices are always fair, no matter how high demand is for a particular item. We also have a steady supply ready to ship.
Everyone wants to use ingredients that are nourishing and least harmful to their skin, but in certain situations, only specific ingredients will do. Hand sanitizer is an item that is simply not effective unless it contains ethyl or isopropyl alcohol.
You can look for formulas that are more moisturizing than others, and opt to wash your hands with moisturizing soap instead of using hand sanitizer as much as you currently do.
Shopping for hand sanitizer with Hope Health Supply ensures you’ll have great, effective hand sanitizer that doesn’t leave your hands dry and chapped. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing your hand sanitizer is formulated based on the WHO recipe.