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  • Writer's pictureNicole Salter

3 things you need to know NOW about hand sanitizer

We all know we're not supposed to use hand sanitizer, that soap and water is better...but that doesn't stop everyone from squirting, whether we're at the farmer's market or the petting zoo or the grocery store! Even if you don't carry hand sanitizer in your purse, it's literally everywhere, and our children are using it all the time too, because like us they have been told that it's necessary to kill the germs on our hands to prevent illness. Besides, that clean hand feel is important, especially if you've been holding on to subway poles, using public washrooms and paying with coins.

Hand sanitizer gel

So, what DON'T we know about hand sanitizer that we really need to know?

3 things you should know about ordinary hand sanitizer

1. The active ingredient in commercial hand sanitizers is alcohol: isopropyl, ethanol, or n-propanol. However, contrary to what's on the label, alcohol does NOT actually kill 99.9% of bacteria, except under certain (ideal) circumstances. In reality, it simply reduces the number of microbes (good and bad) on the skin. If hands are visibly dirty, greasy, or contaminated with chemicals, alcohol-based hand sanitizer becomes even less effective. It's still better than doing nothing, if germ-killing is what you're after, but it's not really as effective as manufacturers claim it to be.

2. A question is then raised: does ALL the bacteria on our hands really even need to be killed with anti-bacterial ingredients in order to stave off sickness? We think we’re being healthy by disinfecting with hand sanitizers, but they can actually weaken the immune system because studies have shown that ultra-clean environments, particularly if we're born into them, can actually reduce our immune defenses later on...proving that it really is better for kids to eat dirt than to grow up in an ultra-sanitized environment!

3. So, it's good to leave some germs behind - which is what alcohol based hand sanitizers do, so that's good, right? Not entirely. Many hand sanitizers contain triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient that kills more bacteria than alcohol alone, but has raised questions because of studies that show it disrupts hormone function in animals. The main problem with constantly killing most of the bacteria on your hands, though, is that some bacteria does survive - and can gradually become resistant to antibiotics, which poses a serious threat to human health.

Gel hand sanitizers may not seem drying, but it's a trick

Perhaps important to note is that, although commercial hand sanitizers have chemical additives that leave skin feeling soft, all that alcohol is in fact irritating the skin by stripping away its natural oils and dehydrating the cells. That is simply what alcohol does, no matter what it's mixed with.

Regular handwashing is best, or try our all natural hand sanitizing spray

No wonder experts recommend regular handwashing instead of using hand sanitizer. Washing your hands leaves them clean - not disinfected, not entirely stripped of bacteria, but clean nevertheless. If you can't get to a sink, but you want that fresh feeling, try an all-natural hand sanitizing spray that leaves hands incredibly clean, soft, and moisturized - like Purify Me, Kerr, which uses six antimicrobial essential oils and the natural power of witch hazel to clean your hands without killing your skin. We also have a brand new formula with aloe vera gel that does the same thing, with essential oils of fir needle, lemon and tea tree for a more woodsy fragrance.

Keep it clean, but not chemically clean, with SaltZ!

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