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  • February 08, 2019 3 min read

    On the hunt for a hand sanitizer that doesn't contain drying alcohol and other harmful chemicals? Or, were you unaware that most of the hand sanitizers found in stores aren't really doing you any favors? We break down why commercial hand sanitizers do more harm than good. And, since it's oftentimes easier to just do it yourself, we've got a great D.I.Y. hand sanitizer recipe for you.

    Hand Sanitizers: Killer of More Than Germs

    There are two types of hand sanitizers — alcohol-based and antibacterial. While alcohol-based hand sanitizers don't contain awful chemicals, they can really dry out your skin. Alcohol strips the skin of oil which is bad for your skin's protective barrier. Aside from healthcare settings where alcohol-based hand sanitizers are useful, it's in your best interest to avoid them. 

    As for antibacterial hand sanitizers, most contain harmful ingredients like benzalkonium chloride and triclosan. According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep®️ Cosmetics Database, benzalkonium chloride is a “biocide, preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye, and respiratory irritation and allergies." It's "a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema." Plus, "regular use of products containing antimicrobials such as benzalkonium chloride could lead to the development of resistant bacteria in homes.” It's safe to say that benzalkonium chloride-containing antibacterial hand sanitizers aren't much better than drying alcohol-based ones. If your antibacterial hand sanitizer doesn't contain benzalkonium chloride, it likely contains another not-so-great ingredient: triclosan.

    We've discussed the negative effects of triclosan in soap here. The EWG's Skin Deep®️ Cosmetics Database reports that triclosan, “an antibacterial agent and preservative used in personal care and home-cleaning products," is "persistent in the environment and may be associated with endocrine (hormonal) toxicity.” Triclosan also increases the likelihood of developing resistant bacteria and causes skin irritation and dryness. Not only are both of the common ingredients in antibacterial hand sanitizers — benzalkonium chloride and triclosan — a cause for concern, in general, antibacterial hand sanitizers disrupt the skin's natural protective barrier.

    Plus, in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration became concerned about the effects of repeated daily exposure from alcohol and triclosan in hand sanitizers. The FDA requested more data regarding the safety of hand sanitizers. It's better not to risk it. However, because hand sanitizers are so convenient for killing germs on the go, you can whip up a D.I.Y. alternative without drying alcohol and other harmful ingredients. Here's how:

    D.I.Y. Hand Sanitizer Recipe

    You may already know that tea tree essential oil is antibacterial. What you may have forgotten, though, is that in addition to promoting relaxation and stress relief, lavender essential oil also has germ-fighting abilities. With the combined antibacterial powers of high-quality tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil, you can get rid of germs without the harmful effects of commercial sanitizers. Plus, this D.I.Y. hand sanitizer moisturizes your skin as well, thanks to the aloe and vitamin E oil.

    Soap Is Dope

    SLAB Handcrafted Lemon Lavender Soap

    Hand sanitizers sanitize your hands just fine, but even the all-natural versions have a downside. While hand sanitizers kill the germs on your hands, they don’t exactly remove any dirt, bacteria, or viruses. What's left of physical germs still remain on your hands after using hand sanitizer.

    That's where good old-fashioned soap and water come in. Unlike hand sanitizer, soap rinses everything off your hands that you might not want there, like the blackhead you just squeezed and all the gross residue hand sanitizer leaves behind.

    The Clean Hands campaign by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises folks to hand wash. Only resort to using hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.






    SLAB Handcrafted Lemon Lavender Soap


    Make sure you never run into a situation where soap and water are not readily available by signing up for a SLAB Soap Club subscription. Each month receive two handcrafted soaps that are hand-mixed, hand-poured, and hand-cut at our shops in Salem, Oregon. Sign up today!


    As always, these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Intended for topical use only. Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas. 

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