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6 of the best hand sanitizers that soften hands while killing germs

Erin Bunch

Erin BunchMay 19, 2020

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Photo: Getty/Klaus Vedfelt

One of my best friends has been using hand sanitizer religiously for as long as I’ve known him. I always thought it was a weird quirk as I’d never even opened the one bottle I owned. Then came COVID-19, and now I don’t leave the house without this previously superfluous-seeming product. These days, I rely on a few hand sanitizer brands with skin care in mind.

Several skin-care companies have added hand sanitizer to their offerings in recent weeks. In large part, they’ve done so in order to pitch in during this unprecedented crisis in a way that made sense for their brands.”When this global pandemic hit, the importance of readily available hand sanitation became clear,” says Lather founder Emilie Hoyt, whose brand recently added a hand sanitizer to its lineup of products.

“Readily available” is the key phrase there, and SpaRitual founder Shel Pink tells me that it was when she realized hand sanitizer was hard to come by in her personal experience, at the start of the pandemic, that she directed her company to begin manufacturing it. “We saw the need to help people prepare [for COVID-19] and knew there would be a city-level need as well for the people on the frontlines,” she says.

Meanwhile, Herbivore Botanicals—which is based in Seattle, home to one of the earliest U.S. outbreaks of COVID-19—pivoted when the company’s workers suddenly found the hand sanitizer they needed to keep themselves safe at work hard to come by. “For their own safety and the safety of our customers, they formulated their own hand sanitizers to use while at work,” says Alexander Kummerow, co-founder of Herbivore Botanicals. “I am so impressed with our team—we went from concept to launch in under a month.”

Some of the brands expanding into the hand sanitizer market are donating product in addition to selling it to consumers to meet that aforementioned city-level need. SpaRitual sent its first 5,000 bottles to the City of Los Angeles for use within its homeless population. Herbivore Botanicals, meanwhile, has donated 75,000 bottles of its new hand sanitizer offering, with 50,000 going to the United Way in Seattle and 25,000 going to hospitals in New York City.

Some have also made the decision to add hydrating ingredients into the mix as the high alcohol content in sanitizers makes them extremely drying. (Note: the FDA cautions that “additional ingredients may impact the quality or and potency of the product,” so it’s important to do your homework; hand sanitizers containing less than 60 percent of alcohol are not effective.) Pink, whose company opted out of additives, explains that it is important to prioritize hydration alongside sanitization, not just for aesthetic reasons but for the good of your health, too.

If possible, both Pink and Hoyt recommend hand washing as a preferable defense because it is less damaging to the skin. “To be completely transparent, I have always preferred soap and water to hand sanitizer,” says Hoyt. “Alcohol by nature is inherently drying, oftentimes resulting in the breakdown of skin barrier, which can ultimately make people more susceptible to getting sick.”

With that said, hand washing isn’t always an immediately available option. “If you don’t have access to soap or water, use an effective hand sanitizer instead, and make sure to always keep the skin on the hands hydrated [with moisturizing creams or salves],” says Pink. 

Below, shop the best hand sanitizer offerings from skin-care brands to give the newest ritual-you-never-asked-for a little boost.

The best new hand sanitizer options from skin-care brands

1. Herbivore Hand Hero, $12

hand sanitizer brands

Herbivore’s product contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and aloe vera in addition to effective sanitizing ingredients, including 75 percent alcohol content. (The CDC recommends a minimum of 60 percent). It’s also available in two scents—lavender and pink grapefruit.

2. Sparitual Hand Sanitizer Spray, 4-pack, $20

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SpaRitual’s pure hand sanitizer also boasts 75 percent alcohol level. It’s available in a 2-ounce on-the-go size as well as a 16-ounce bottle.

3. LATHER Hand Sanitizer with Moisturizing Aloe, $18

Lather’s version relies on aloe vera and green tea extract for their moisturizing benefits, and contains 65 percent alcohol content.

4. Maapilin Hand Sanitizer, $12

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This hand sanitizer brand features 75 percent alcohol content and a heady blend of bergamot, jasmine, and cedarwood essential oils.

5. Love Dirty Air-Free Eco Pump Dispenser, $18

hand sanitizer

Love Dirty’s hand sanitizer contains 64 percent alcohol and comes in two different containers. One has a pump feature and the other, smaller squeeze version fits easily into a purse or pocket.

6. Pipette Hand Sanitizer, $5

hand sanitizer

Baby skin-care brand Pipette, which is owned by the makers of Biossance, is also offering a hand sanitizer. It’s safe enough for baby and effective enough for mom and the whole family, with an alcohol content of 65 percent. It also features the brand’s favorite hydrating ingredient, squalane.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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