{what's in it wednesday: hand sanitizers}

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today we're going to look at something people keep in their handbags and use throughout the day. Our kids are encouraged to take little bottles for use at school. You even see dispensers of it at grocery stores. I'm taking a look at hand sanitizers. I have actually turned away offers from friends to use hand sanitizers when we're out to eat, often going into the bathroom to wash my hands instead or using my own bottle.

I do not mean to come across as rude (or dirty) to others when I do this, it is just that I cringe when I think of what is in them. What's worse is that some of these products are so full of toxins that it's possibly worse applying these to your hands and having them sit on the skin than not using them at all if that's the only alternative.

We will look at a common hand sanitizer and discuss what's in it.



Today, we're looking at Purell from Johnson & Johnson. Here is the what is in the product:


Active Ingredient: Ethyl Alcohol (62% w/w). Inactive Ingredients: Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Carbomer, Fragrance, Aminomethyl Propanol, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Myristate, and Tocopheryl Acetate.


This warning label is present as well:

For external use only. Flammable, keep away from fire or flame. Do not use in the eyes. In case of contact, rinse eyes thoroughly with water. Stop use and ask a doctor if irritation and redness develop and persist for more than 72 hours. Keep out of reach of children. If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. May discolor certain fabrics.


So, what exactly are the unfamiliar ingredients?

The ingredients in red are cause for concern.


Ethyl Alcohol--also known as absolute ethanol, extremely irritating. 

Isopropyl Alcohol--highly irritating; there are concerns for lung, eye, and skin irritation


Glycerin--a benign humectant


Carbomer--this is safe; it is what helps make it gel-like

Fragrance--This is a synthetic ingredient which is responsible for a large percentage of allergies in many sufferers. It can be very irritating to certain individuals, especially children and those with respiratory issues, headaches, and other illnesses.

Aminomethyl Propanol--this pH adjuster can be quite irritating. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has recommended this to be safely used at a maximum concentration of 1%. 

 Propylene Glycol--PG is used in conjunction with other chemical ingredients as a preservative. It is also found in products to make it easier for other added ingredients to penetrate the skin. This ingredient has been shown in studies to aggravate skin conditions such as eczema. This derivitave of mineral oil is considered a petrochemical. There are many different grades of PG: industrial grade is found in anti-freeze. 

Some will tell you that skin care products with propylene glycol just like anti-freeze. This isn't true--the kind in cosmetics is cosmetics grade. That being said, this can cause contact dermatitis, especially in such a very high concentration. Because of this, I cannot recommend it since the product will not be rinsed thoroughly from the skin after application.

Isopropyl Myristate--this is a binding agent that is safe, but is often derived from animals

Tocopherol Acetate--essentially, this is vitamin E


The Chic & Green Bottom Line:


The bulk of hand sanitizers on the market are products I would not use on my children or on myself. I do not recommend them unless you are in a hospital environment.

Does this mean that I oppose hand sanitizers in general? No. There are safe alternatives.



I personally use Clean Well All Natural Hand Sanitizer. It is just as effective as the others on the market, but I feel safe using it on my children and on me.

Here are the ingredients, for comparison purposes. For reference, this is the Orange and Vanilla scented product:


Active Ingredient: Thymus Vulgaris Oil (Thymol 0.05%)

Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Leaf Juice, Citric Acid, Orange Oil, Copper PCA, Hydrolized Oats, Oregano Oil, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Sodium Declglucosides Hydroxypropyl Sulfonte, Vanilla Fruit Extract, Water

So what is in this one? Nothing to worry about!

Thymol--thyme oil, a natural antimicrobial ingredient

Aloe Leaf Juice--natural, skin conditioning aloe vera

Citric Acid--ecofriendly cleaning agent; antioxidant

Orange Oil--essential oil

Copper PCA--naturally occurs in our own skin; conditioner
Hydrolized Oats--skin conditioner


Oregano Oil--essential oil


Sodium Citrate--pH balancer

Sodium Coco Sulfate--plant based emulsifier; comes from coconut oil (NOT the same as sodium laureth or lauryl sulfate)


Sodium Declglucosides Hydroxypropyl Sulfonte--emulsifier from coconut oil and corn sugar

Vanilla Fruit--vanilla

Water




ALSO:


While we are on this subject, I would like to reiterate the case for not using antibacterial hand soaps containing Triclosan.


Click the link for the post about Bath and Body Works Antibacterial Soaps.

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