The continued onslaught brought on by COVID-19 has given way to a new normal in which donning protective face masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing have all become routine aspects of our daily lives. Because the virus is primarily spread through person-to-person contact transmission, regularly using hand sanitizer is another hugely important proactive step to flattening the curve and ultimately putting an end to this global event.
Prior to the pandemic, the hand sanitizer market wasn’t an area that we, or most others, had ever given much thought to, though with proper hand cleaning and sanitizing being arguably more important now than ever before in modern history, the product space is more than worth exploring in more detail, especially now that many of us are using hand-sanitizer on a daily basis. With this in mind, we’ve searched far and wide, thoroughly poring over the market to bring you this condensed and curated guide to the best hand sanitizers.
Germs, Hands, & Alcohol
How Hand Sanitizer Works To Combat COVID-19
To purchase and properly utilize a quality hand sanitizer, it helps to have a general understanding of how hand sanitizer works, or in this case more specifically; how hand sanitizer combats the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The novel coronavirus is what’s known as an “enveloped virus,” meaning it has a structure with an outer membrane. This outer membrane can effectively be neutralized or inactivated through the use of alcohol or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, given it has a large enough concentration of ethanol or isopropanol alcohol. In addition to cleansing your hands of germs and bacteria, utilizing hand sanitizer also helps to hugely mitigate the transmission of the virus, eliminating the virus from surfaces where it can be picked up and spread by other people.
The Truth About Transmission
The Intended Role Of Hand Sanitizer
With the ability to kill the vast majority of bacteria and germs on the surface of your hands, hand sanitizer is an incredibly effective weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, quickly cleansing your mitts with anything you’ve come into contact with while out in public. Having said that, it’s extremely important to note that—not unlike how deodorant shouldn’t be an outright replacement for bathing or showering—using hand sanitizer shouldn’t be done in lieu of washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20-seconds. Furthermore, even when using hand sanitizer, one should still try to minimize their contact with objects in the outside world and should still refrain from touching one’s face.
Hand Cleansing 101
How To Properly Use Hand Sanitizer
One might think this is a fairly obvious task, though considering how many grown adults were unaware of how to (and what duration of time to) properly wash their hands at the start of the pandemic, it seems more than worth briefly delving into how to correctly use hand sanitizer. According to the CDC, hand sanitizer should be spray or squeezed out in small amounts—though still enough to cover your fingers and the front and back of your hands—and then rubbed together until dry. In total, this process should take anywhere from 20-30 seconds.
Properties Of Protection
What To Consider When Buying Hand Sanitizer
Now that you have at least a tenuous grasp on how hand sanitizer works and how it should be properly applied, let’s dive into some of the qualities to keep an eye out for when shopping around for hand sanitizer.
Sanitizer Type: Hand sanitizers come in a trio of basic varieties; Wipes; Sprays; and Liquids (aka “Gels”). Wipes are easy to dispense and offer a uniform amount of solution, though also require somewhere to dispose of the used wipe. Sprays offer an incredibly convenient and easy means of application, though when taking this route it’s important to go with a reputable brand that offers refills to minimize environmental impact and waste. Liquid hand sanitizers are the most common and are available in all manner of sizes, usually employing a push-top or bottle-squeeze deployment.
Alcohol Content: Hand sanitizers need to have fairly high concentrations of alcohol to effectively fight off viruses and bacteria, with the CDC recommending a mix of at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. On top of the concentration, it’s also crucial to go with a product that uses ethanol or isopropanol instead of alcohols like 1-propanol or methanol.
Scent: Just like with soaps and deodorants, hand sanitizers are offered in an enormous variety of fragrances, from more natural woodsy aromas to cologne-like musks and other masculine formulated scents. On the flip side of the coin, there’s also a wide array of hand sanitizers that are completely devoid of any added scents or fragrances. We’ve personally found that the lightly-scented products do a stellar job of masking the aroma of the alcohol without being overpowering.
Extras: The lion’s share of hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and perform the same basic function of cleansing your hands, there are a host of more advanced offerings that have been bestowed with a myriad of supplementary ingredients from vitamins and moisturizers to essential oils and other extracts. There are even hand sanitizers that have been infused with Cannabidiols (more commonly known as “CBD”).
Amount: The unfortunate reality of our current situation is that, even with the arrival of multiple vaccines slowly starting to be administered, there doesn’t appear to be any immediate end in sight to the ongoing pandemic. For this reason, we’d recommend investing in larger, bulk orders of the stuff, as you’re most likely going to need a decent amount, and it’s particularly unpleasant going back to cheap generic hand sanitizer after using a more gentle and premium product. What’s more, once the COVID situation comes to an end, hand sanitizer will still be useful, especially come cold and flu season.
Brand: Even with the addition of vitamins or other nourishing or moisturizing properties or ingredients, many of the hand sanitizers on the market appear to be pretty similar. One fairly surefire way of ensuring you get your hands on the best possible product is to opt for a more premium brand with a solid track history with their other offerings. And, because more than a few of our favorite men’s grooming brands produce hand sanitizers, there’s no shortage of premium offerings to pick from.
Kings County Distillery Hand Sanitizer
In response to the hand sanitizer brought on by the global pandemic, Brooklyn-based whiskey outfit, Kings County Distillery pivoted from producing its regular water of life to an antiseptic topical hand sanitizer. Altering its existing raw high proof spirit recipe, the 2016 Distillery Of The Year Award-winner has created an 80% alcohol formula sold in a classic glass liquid bottle. And while KCD limits orders to three per customer, the American brand has priced its hand sanitizer on a sliding scale based on what the customer can afford, with bottles requiring a $1, $5, $10, $15, or $20 donation.
Old Glory Distilling Co. Spray Sanitizer
Another American distillery that transitioned from booze to hand sanitizer production was Tennessee’s bourbon brand, Old Glory Distilling Co., which has also formulated a made-in-America topical hand sanitizer with an 80% ethanol alcohol base, all while strictly adhering to the FDA’s guidelines. The Clarksville-based company offers its hand sanitizer in individual 3.4oz spray bottles starting from just $2 (or packs of 3, 6, 12, or 60), as well as in substantially larger 64oz bottles, 55-gallon drums, and 270-gallon cases.
Bravo Sierra Hand Sanitizer
We’ve been thoroughly impressed with Bravo Sierra’s USA-made shampoo, deodorant sticks and sprays, antibacterial body wipes, shaving foam, and face moisturizer, so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that we’ve been equally taken with the American brand’s hand sanitizer. Using a 70% ethyl alcohol base, this premium formula is infused with soothing and moisturizing aloe vera and is good for eliminating a cool 99.99% of bacteria and germs from your mitts.
Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash
As another one of our longtime favorite men’s grooming brands, it’s hard to go wrong with pretty much anything from Aēsop, and the Australian outfit’s top-shelf Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash is by no means an exception. Sold in 1.7oz and 16.9oz bottles made from 97% recycled post-consumer PET and boasting a rich, citrus-infused woody and herbaceous fragrance, Aēsop’s hand wash uses an alcohol-based formula with Mandarin rind, rosemary, and cedar atlas to help soothe hands and prevent the skin from drying out.
OARS + ALPS Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer Spray
When the COVID-19 outbreak first struck, the grooming gurus at OARS + ALPS began to recognize a host of problems associated with generic grocery store-bought hand sanitizers, prompting the Chicago-based brand to engineer the ultimate modern EDC hand sanitizer. This gave way to O+A’s vitamin E-infused, 71% ethyl-based formula, which is sold in spray-deployed packs of two and is capable of ridding your hands of 99.9% of germs on contact.
Pure Bloom CBD Hand Sanitizer & Moisturizing Spray
Knowing its hand sanitizer would be applied on a daily basis, the team over at Pure Bloom decided to bestow their formula with the supplementary nourishing properties of a full-spectrum hemp-based, cold-pressed CBD extract, thereby affording antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties without any mind-altering or intoxicating effects whatsoever. Furthermore, this vegan-friendly, gluten-free, USA-made hand sanitizer spray—which is also produced in other scents—also features vegetable-derived glycerin instead of other harsher, more synthetic ingredient bases, though is still capable of ridding one’s hands of 99.9% of common germs and bacteria.
By Humankind Eucalyptus Kindfill Hand Sanitizer
A thoroughly-calculated and well-thought-out long-term solution to daily hand sanitizer use, this particular offering is sold in pocket-sized aluminum (2.4oz) three-packs—spout bottles or refill bottles—and contains one of three formulas (Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, and Unscented), each of which boast a 65% alcohol base that’s been infused with hyaluronic acid to prevent the skin from getting dehydrated. Produced using a 100% carbon neutral manufacturing process, By Humankind’s hand sanitizer is offered via one-time purchase, or through a monthly subscription service.
AMLY PURIFYING Hand Mist
While AMLY’s Purifying Hand Mist is admittedly the most over-engineered offering on our list, it manages to deliver a surprisingly therapeutic product, with a strong alcohol concentration exceeding CDC standards that also hugely benefit from a host of additives with antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, and deodorizing properties in the form of aloe vera, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree oil, thyme oil, lemon, lavender, and chamomile, just to name a few. This decidedly premium, plant-based, British-made hand sanitizer is also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, devoid of palm or any GMOs, and is sold in an organic cotton drawstring gift bag.
HAAN Pocket + Refill
Designed for long-term everyday use, HAAN’s Pocket + Refill pack consists of a vegan-friendly, aloe vera-infused formula that kills 99.9% of bacteria. Produced with a major focus on sustainability, the spray bottle is sold with refill packs that can be used to top off a bottle three times. Simply spray until it’s empty, refill, and repeat. And while HAAN offers this formula in several scents, the brand’s best-selling (and our favorite) blend is its “Wood Night” aroma, a masculine amalgamation of pine and cedarwood with a “wet earthy base.”
Grown Alchemist Hydra-Hand Sanitizer
Though it admittedly costs a bit more than some of the other items on this list, Grown Alchemist’s Hydra-Hand Sanitizer is well-worth shelling out a few extra bucks for, with this objectively top-shelf formula being comprised of an extraordinarily gentle 70% ethyl alcohol base that’s derived from cane sugars before being bestowed with the Australian grooming outfit’s “Tri-Hyaluronan Complex” and antioxidants which are incredibly effective at moisturizing the skin and preventing signs of premature aging. This formula includes triglycerides from coconut oil, cold-pressed sweet orange oil, sweet almond oil, and flavonoid-rich pot marigold collectively cleanse the hands and leave the skin feeling cool and refreshed.
DS & Durga Big Sur After Rain Hand Sanitizer
With an 80% alcohol base, one would be forgiven for thinking D.S. & DURGA’s Big Sur After Rain hand Sanitizer is a harsh and dehydrating formula, though this really couldn’t be further from the truth. Made in New York City, this hand sanitizer contains softening glycerin, along with the top-shelf grooming brand’s signature, highly-lauded California Coastline road-inspired fragrance, with hints of salt ocean mist, coastal rain, and eucalyptus leaves and shoots.
Gloved By Tom Daxon Moisture-Replenish
Part moisturizer and part hand sanitizer, Gloved By Tom Daxon (not to be confused with premium UK-based accessory, lighting, and furniture designer, Tom Dixon) Moisture-Replenish Hand Sanitizer is another top-shelf offering that effectively rids one’s hands of germs and bacteria without stripping the skin of natural oils that leave it dry or flakey. Using a 62% alcohol base, this vegan-friendly hand sanitizer is bestowed with a substantial amount of Virginian cedarwood, which, in addition to affording a masculine and woodsy scent, also boasts both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. What’s more, this product’s bottles, boxes, and aluminum caps are all made from recycled materials, too.
The 10 Best Body Wipes For Men
Want to check out a supplementary selection of mobile germ-fighting options? Our guide to the best body wipes features a wide selection of the market’s latest and greatest in single-use mobile grooming goods.
HiConsumption is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more