How to shop for moisturizing hand sanitizers, experts explain

20 Jul.,2022

What kind of hand sanitizer should I use? We asked experts to recommend moisturizers and the best ingredients to look for when shopping for hand sanitizers.

 

Hand Sanitizer

Shop TODAY is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Items are sold by retailer, not TODAY. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY .

Carrying hand sanitizer with you while you're on the go is a great way to keep germs at bay, but we all know how dry it can make your hands feel. With cooler weather right around the corner, our hands are already starting to feel a bit parched, so Shop TODAY was curious to know: How do you keep your hands clean and hydrated at the same time?

So we sought the help of dermatologists and medical experts to find out what ingredients our hand sanitizers should include if we want to avoid dry, cracked skin. Here are 12 safe options you'll want to get your hands on this fall.

Moisturizing hand sanitizers

In order to be effective, hand sanitizers need to contain one very important ingredient. "The first thing a consumer should be looking for is the percentage of alcohol in the range of 60-85%. Ethanol is more effective than isopropyl alcohol against viruses, it's less toxic and you’ll notice it has less of an odor," said Dr. Michael Frankel, a family doctor based in Vancouver, BC.

Luckily, Equate's hand sanitizer combines germ-fighting properties (it has 62% ethyl alcohol) with a touch of moisture, thanks to ingredients like glycerin and vitamin E.

Alcohol is a critical ingredient in hand sanitizers, but it doesn't exactly leave your skin feeling all that happy.

"Alcohol can leave the skin barrier weakened, dry, and cracked," said Amy Fu, R&D Director at H20+ Beauty.

To help restore skin's natural oils and tackle dryness, Pipette's sanitizer features two rock star ingredients: sugarcane-derived squalane and glycerin. Both work in conjunction with a 65% ethyl alcohol formula to cleanse and moisturize at the same time.

We often turn to aloe to calm sunburned skin, and the ingredient is regularly added to hand sanitizers to prevent dryness.

"Hand sanitizers with aloe are great because it adds both soothing and antibacterial properties," said Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York.

This quick-drying sanitizing spray from The Honest Company has a 62% ethyl alcohol formula and is full of hydrating ingredients like aloe and glycerin, so you can apply it freely without worrying about cracked skin.

The brains behind the popular Poo-Pourri bathroom spray have expanded into the hand sanitizer business. Poo-Pourri's quick-drying sanitizing spray comes in both unscented and scented varieties and is made with hydrating lavender and coconut essential oils.

"Adding other moisturizers such as essential oils can benefit your skin and prevent dry hands," Jaliman said. "Lavender is a great ingredient."

Worried that adding extra ingredients into your sanitizer might dilute its bacteria-fighting abilities? Fret not!

"Additional ingredients in the hand sanitizer, including moisturizers and fragrances, generally do not hinder the effectiveness of the sanitizer," said David Raskin, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Houston College of Medicine.

Baby Bum might be known for its kid-friendly sunscreens, but the brand now has hand sanitizers as well. Sugarcane-derived alcohol teams up with hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, aloe, glycerin and fruit extracts to clean and condition hands simultaneously.

Palmers has been known for its moisturizers for ages, so it makes sense that its brand new hand sanitizer works hard to prevent dry skin. The spray is free of undesirable ingredients like parabens and phthalates, contains an impressive 75% alcohol formula and features two moisturizing ingredients that Frankel swears by.

"To help keep your skin moisturized, look for sanitizers with aloe and vitamin E, which will help reduce the dry feeling alcohol leaves behind," he said.

Deciphering an ingredients list is hard if you're not a chemist, so coming prepared with a list of moisturizers to watch out for while you're shopping for hand sanitizer isn't a bad idea.

"Some common moisturizing ingredients in hand sanitizers are glycerin (it binds water), aloe vera (it soothes skin) and plant extracts (to condition skin)," Fu said.

Luckily, this moisturizing sanitizer from Germ-X contains several hydrating ingredients like vitamin E and glycerin, and has a 62% ethyl alcohol formula. It also comes in a 12-pack, so you can stock up for fall and winter and hand them out to the whole family!

Both regular soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers can leave skin feeling unusually dry, but EO's popular sanitizer spray is full of hydrating essential oils — like lavender — that are known for their antiseptic properties.

Hand sanitizers don't have to include a laundry list of harsh ingredients in order to be effective. For instance, this vegan option from Raw Sugar is made of plant-based, organic ingredients (in addition to a 62% ethyl alcohol formula).

Some of the star players in this hydrating cleanser include coconut fruit extract and lemon fruit extract. As an added bonus, the ingredients are cold-pressed to help preserve their natural nutrients.

The sweet almond and marula oil in this hand sanitizer work to hydrate skin while alcohol strips away germs. This travel-friendly hand sanitizer also features a range of natural extracts like geranium oil, lavender oil, orange peel oil and aloe leaf juice.

"This has a slight scent, very clean," one Ulta shopper wrote. "Goes on smooth and leaves your skin with a hint of moisture."

Moisturizing hand sanitizer wipes

The Honest Company Sanitizing Alcohol Wipes

These sanitizing wipes are made without fragrances, parabens, phenoxyethanol or chlorine processing, which means you can use them on your hands throughout the day without any worries of excess drying. They also contain aloe and plant-derived alcohol to give you a touch of moisture.

Containing vitamin E, aloe, and other moisturizers, these wipes allow you to sanitize on the go. They're individually packaged and easy to toss into your bag, while also being just as effective as any spray or gel sanitizer. They have an active ingredient of 65.9% alcohol and kill up to 99.99% of germs.

For more stories like this, check out:

Subscribe to our Stuff We Love and One Great Find newsletters, and download our TODAY app to discover deals, shopping tips, budget-friendly product recommendations and more!