5 Harmful Ingredients to Avoid when Buying Hand Sanitizer

If we told you about the current situation several years ago, you wouldn't believe a word of it. Yet, here we are, depending on hand sanitizers, as if our lives depend on it. Well, they do, in a way.

During the current state of affairs in the world, it is necessary to take these extra precautions to stay safe. Some of the steps include washing our hands regularly, social distancing when in public spaces, and working from home, if possible.

Hand Sanitizers as an Alternative

As an alternative to washing hands using soap and water, the CDC recommended using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with an ethanol content of at least 60%). Using just a small amount of high-quality sanitizer can stop the spread of disease in 15 seconds. 

While most companies are committed to delivering quality and safe products, others exploited the panic caused by the pandemic by producing substandard sanitizers, while malicious companies made outright toxic products.

The companies that produce substandard hand sanitizers use fewer active ingredients, while those that produce toxic products rely on dangerous chemicals to go about their trade. Fortunately, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came out with a "not-use" list for hand sanitizers.

Using a hand sanitizer requires that you find one that does not cause more harm than good. That said, when purchasing a hand sanitizer, avoid the following harmful ingredients:

1. Methanol

This is probably the most misused ingredient in hand sanitizers at the moment. According to the CDC, most of the products imported into the country contain methanol. According to Dr. Theresa Capriotti, RN, clinical professor at Villanova University, most manufacturers use this chemical in lieu of ethyl alcohol.

Methanol is classified as "wood alcohol," so it is not safe for use in hand sanitizers. The chemical is absorbed through the skin, causing various skin complications. When ingested, methanol can be life-threatening.

2. Benzene 

Recently, Valisure, an online pharmacy, submitted a citizen petition to the FDA stating its findings from research that they had conducted. According to the pharmacy, after analyzing 260 unique batches of hand sanitizers from 168 different brands, it was ascertained that most of the products contained benzene as one of their ingredients. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician on staff at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, notes that benzene is a carcinogen that can cause blood cancer (leukemia). 

Contrary to these other opportunistic brands, Muse Health only uses moisturizing and highly effective ingredients that are supposed to be in hand sanitizer. A combination of ethyl alcohol, glycerin, and Vitamin E oil lead to a fulfilling and nourishing blend of hand cleansing goodness. Don’t fall victim to these profit-first companies looking to take advantage of people in need, trust Muse Health to take care of those tired hands. 

3. Burkholderia Cepacia Complex 

Earlier this year, the FDA warned consumers and health care service providers from using the Durisan Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer due to microbial contamination. When tested, the hand sanitizer in question was found to contain high levels of Burkholderia Cepacia Complex and Ralstonia pickettii, which can cause severe infections to your skin.

The mentioned ingredients can lead to skin infections, damaged lungs, and soft tissues or affect your entire bloodstream. Also, if you have a compromised immune system, these ingredients can increase your vulnerability.

When healthcare service providers use sanitizers with these ingredients, they risk transmitting the bacteria to their patients. This is regardless of whether the ingredients affect the service providers themselves or not.

4. Triclosan 

Triclosan is a synthetic pesticide that has no proven power to fight or kill viruses.  It is often added to detergents, soaps, and personal care products such as deodorants. People rely on hand sanitizers to kill these viruses, so it would be pointless to purchase a triclosan product as one of its ingredients.

If anything, in 2016, the FDA banned its use on antibacterial soaps even though the regulation permits its use for other purposes. The FDA banned triclosan because of its association with causing hormonal disruption, liver damage, development of super-germs, and some types of cancers.

5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate 

For soaps and detergents to foam, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate play some role. Today, it is possible to find these ingredients in some of the sanitizers at your local store. Unfortunately, the ingredients are associated with causing a range of skin risks such as irritation and dryness. The ingredients can also cause lung diseases, eye irritation, and some types of cancers.

How to Purchase a Hand Sanitizer with the Right Ingredients? 

When shopping for a sanitizer, Greg Altman, Ph.D., co-founder of Evolved by Nature, recommends that you keep the four "S" in mind. These are:

  • Smell

The smell of a high-quality hand sanitizer should be similar to that of alcohol. Any product with any other smell type is a red flag; it might contain other harmful ingredients such as methanol and acetone.

  • Substitutions

Any hand sanitizer that claims to be "alcohol-free" or contains less than 60% alcohol may not be ideal for killing the virus and germs that cause common colds, the flu, or COVID-19. Watch out for manufacturers that lower the alcohol levels and use additives like BZK to make up for the deficits.

  • Sticky

A hand sanitizer that feels sticky on your hands is a sign that it has glycerin. While manufacturers use this ingredient to make their products thicker, it is known to lower the effectiveness of alcohol. This renders the hand sanitizer less effective.

The Key Takeaway 

When it started, there were a lot of debunking myths about hand sanitizers. However, as time went by, people began accepting the products, and now they play a crucial role in keeping our society safe.

With the panic of the pandemic, most companies started focusing majorly on producing hand sanitizers. While at it, most companies remained committed to upholding the sanctity of the industry, while others concentrated on making profits from their sales regardless of whether their products met the set quality standards or not.

The FDA approves the use of alcohol and ethanol as the main ingredients of a sanitizer. Any other ingredient may cause damage to your skin or may not be as effective. Next time, keep in mind the four "S" when shopping for a hand sanitizer.  Along with the four “S”, keep Muse Health in the front of your brain.  Don’t leave your hands out to dry, let Muse Health be your guide to health and safety during this Fall season.