Sanitising products crept into daily use a few months ago now, and much like tissues or lip balm we now feel they are a necessity in our homes, bags and cars.
We are conscious of touching computers, phones and doorknobs in addition to furniture, coffee cups, clothing and we don't even touch the hands of others right now. We either hand wash with soap and water or, in the absence of a sink or soap, we use hand sanitisers. This was not a crucial activity before this pandemic struck our community. It's a conscious choice now made of necessity.
Leaving the house requires extra thought; not only do we check we have house keys and money for the day, we now also check for our portable, purse size hand sanitiser. Portability and self-sufficiency are key advantages in this era of uncertainty and advance preparation is needed to keep our house running smoothly. Why? We don't feel secure about what's around the corner, if we ever did.
What are the 4 ways in which we have improved the effects of this drying, alcohol based formulation?
So, here is a round up of the 4 ways our formulation minimises damage to our skin. I say 'our' skin, because if our hand sanitisers are not good enough for us to use, then they aren't good enough for you to use. How could we produce something that we expect you to use, without wanting to use it ourselves? We use these ourselves, we love them (personally, I love the White Citrus and Lemon), so you can absolutely feel confident and choose your scent knowing that this hand sanitiser is used by many. Read on first though...
1) Aloe vera
- is an emollient, which means that it soothes and softens our skin by providing a massive level of hydration for skin cells.
- is full to the brim with water, in fact the pulp and inner tissue is 98.5-99% water with the remaining % containing vitamins and enzymes (among other compounds), which contribute to skin nourishment.
- is able to lock in the moisture it gives to our cells by penetrating the top through to middle layers and then with the release of a sticky substance at the epidermal level, it 'glues' the epidermal cells together preventing moisture loss.
- Aloe vera also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Freedom from inflammation means your cells are thriving; repairing and renewing in a structured pattern, a natural cycle, without stress.
- contains both fat and water soluble vitamins such as A and C respectively which, with potent antioxidant properties, promotes cell renewal and repairs damage and dryness caused by pure alcohol.
It's how we have formulated our sanitiser and importantly, it's our knowledge and our willingness to spend the time to explore science and facts, laser focused on our products.
Let's explore a cross-section of skin tissue:
An interesting point about clinical trials containing Aloe Vera
Testing of clinical points such as whether or not aloe vera is beneficial for wound healing, appear to have different outcomes over time and geographic location of the plant and moreover, the environmental conditions of testing areas.
2) Natural vitamin E oil
- Vitamin E is one of the fat soluble vitamins, the others being vitamins A, D and K. Absorption requires the presence of lipids (oils), which are formed by sebaceous glands in the dermal layers.
- alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), typically derived from vegetable oil sources such as wheat germ oil, and furthermore, possessing strong antioxidant properties, is able to halt the chemical reaction of oxidation and is needed to balance free radical actions.
- Free radicals are molecules that cause damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Left unhindered and unbalanced by antioxidants, these free radicals cause serious, lasting cell damage. Vitamin E is an important cell protector and it neutralises free radicals that cause collagen disruption, skin elasticity decline, lines, wrinkles and premature ageing, many of these signs we find on the back of our hands.
- Vitamin E is a soothing and moisturising antioxidant. The purpose of adding vitamin E was to garner these positive effects together for our hands, especially given that the isopropyl content is 70%. This makes for a perfect strength sanitiser as 60% is low and over 90% can render the product ineffective.
Spotlight on Skin
The price paid for hand hygiene is dry, rubbery feeling skin. Alcohol strips away naturally occurring skin oils (sebum), from the dermis and epidermis which are the middle and top layers of our skin, respectively. These naturally produced oils migrate to the surface cells, the epidermis, which sloughs away and renews in an invisible cycle of continuous cell renewal. Moreover, the alcohol content of the hand sanitiser draws the water content out of our cells, seriously dehydrating our skin. This is a nightmare for sensitive skin and for those with eczema, contact dermatitis, and other conditions which compromise skin integrity such as psoriasis.
3) Vegetable glycerin
- Vegetable glycerin softens, soothes and smoothes the complexion, making it a widely used substance in cosmetics and skin products, including the hand sanitiser we have formulated. Vegetable glycerin, incredibly, helps destroy destructive microbes found on the skin and moreover, contributes to the regeneration of skin cells.
- Vegetable glycerin has a syrupy texture and hygroscopic properties. A hygroscopic substance attracts and holds tightly onto water molecules drawn from the air.
- Vegetable glycerin improves the smoothness of skin, has glide-on properties and also acts as a humectant. A humectant readily takes up water molecules so it is easy to see the benefits of using vegetable glycerin to counteract the drying properties of an alcohol based hand sanitiser.
4) Essential oil blends for moisture with additional benefits of aromatherapy
Formulating a blend - General information and technique
Each blend of essential oils has a base, heart (middle) and top note structure, as do all perfumes. Our hand sanitiser blends are formulated with five (5) single origin essential oils to a total of 100%.
The use of random, unmeasured 'drops' of essential oils is not a technique we use in our studio and all oils are weighed in grams, as all oils should be. If this interests you I can explain the rationale further in a separate post, just be aware that drops are not accurate and each single drop I have tested, weighs anywhere between 0.04g - 0.06g each. With these numbers you can see the problems related to accuracy and in essential oil therapy, accuracy is of the utmost importance.
This is the reason professional cosmetic formulators and aromatherapists, do not use drops. Robert Tisserand is a foremost expert in the field of essential oil therapy and has written many books and papers. (See Recommended Reading list).
Please note there is an accurately measured, 2% loading of essential oil blend in your hand sanitiser. This product is not for facial application under any circumstances.
Our essential oil blends are matched to our ultra rich, hand cream moisturiser tubes. In fact, you can purchase them in bundle packs which contains a hand sanitiser in your favourite scent with a matching ultra moisturising hand cream.
Some details about a few of the essential oils used:
Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia):
The beauty of lavender oil is that it is generally safe and useful for most skin types and most ages. After an allergy patch test on the inner part of your upper arm, lasting 24 hours, lavender oil may be used with adults and children but not with babies < 3 months old.
- it is known to reduce moisture loss from the cells and also has anti-inflammatory properties, which is beneficial given the current need for regular use of hand sanitisers.
- it may relieve itchy skin and that horrible, tight rubbery feeling which occurs when moisture is rapidly lost from the skin.
- it may also protect the skin from free radical damage of environmental pollutants and UV rays.
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens):
- works synergistically with Lavandula angustifolia to reduce moisture loss from the skin.
- it helps the process of sloughing away old skin cells.
- it is soothing and antimicrobial; scientifically tested armour in the fight against microbes (certain bacteria, fungi). (Article marked with 4 ****, exciting discoveries and further research areas)
- powerful antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory properties, helping skin tone, youthfulness of the hands, disease fighting antioxidants.
Figure 3: A lush field of lavandula angustifolia. Can you imagine the aroma?
Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia)
- Anti-inflammatory and strong antimicrobial and antiseptic properties
- contributes to healing and maintenance of skin integrity with a quickened healing time frame.
- anecdotal evidence of immune boosting properties.
White Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- has powerful anti-microbial properties. These two precious yet powerhouse essential oils are in our Herbal Mint and Tea Tree oil blend which contains three (3) other oils,
- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus),
- Lemon (Citrus x Limon) and
- Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita). I can reveal what is in them but the percentages are a 'trade secret' (wink wink).
Point of interest
The 'x' in between the two botanical names, indicates that the plant is a hybrid.
Aren't these the most beautiful Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) blossoms? I actually didn't know they had these beautiful brush type blossoms, who knew?
Please confidently go with your initial 'gut instinct' in choosing your blend - this is the one for you (even though you're reading it, you can imagine the aromas).
You know the feeling when you wanted to take a particular path and decided to go a different way, mostly which occurs when we listen to others instead of ourselves. Or feel 'obliged' or 'guilty'. Usually we have pangs of regret later on, say to ourselves, 'why didn't I listen to myself?'. Well, this is the same type of situation.
Our sense of smell is powerful and strongly associated with the limbic system deep within the brain, processing emotions and memories. So, go with your sense of smell and imagination of the smells, and listen to the voice inside your head.
I have placed a 'recommended reading' list below. If you like to read and learn, this might entertain you for a while.
Please feel free to leave questions or comments, I would love to read what you think and your question could be the one that someone else has but they're unable to speak up. I will definitely answer you if I can or at the very least, I will direct you to a source that I think can provide answers for you.
I hope you feel further informed after reading this post.
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Until next time
Good luck and happy learning!
Recommended reading and sources
*Figure 1. Skin structure, dermis, epidermis
Retrieved from socratic.org
*Figure 2: Retrieved from http://b.link/6kyxc
**Each article is medically reviewed on the Healthline website, shown above.
*Figure 3 pinterest.com
**Robert Tisserand (Institute) books, registered education courses and research papers. ***
***Essential Oil Safety. 2nd ed. Colloquially known by professionals and laymen alike, as the essential oil 'bible'.