A few years ago when my immune system was weak, and I seemingly caught every virus that came my way, I started toting hand sanitizer with me everywhere I went. But I quickly fell out of the habit and went back to using plain soap and water because I didn’t like the way Purell felt—icky and chemical-like. It also left my hands uncomfortably dry.
I’m glad that I trusted my first instinct that Purell didn’t “feel” right.
Last fall, a study published in PLOS One, found that when hand sanitizer (in this study, the brand was Purell) is used before handling a receipt, a large amount of the hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) is transferred to the skin. This happens because hand sanitizer contains dermal penetration enhancers.
According to the study authors:
Mixtures of dermal penetration enhancing chemicals can act synergistically to increase by up to 100 fold the dermal penetration of small lipophilic molecules such as estradiol, with which BPA shares physical-chemical and biological properties.
For example, Purell hand sanitizer (Gojo Industries), which we used in the current study, contains a number of dermal penetration enhancers, such as isopropyl myristate and propylene glycol, and is (63% w/w) ethanol. The use of hand sanitizers has increased in recent years and is now about a 200 million dollar a year industry just in the USA. The impact of the use of personal care products such as moisturizing lotions that contain dermal penetration enhancing chemicals on exposure to environmental chemicals has been identified as a concern.
Since being diagnosed with low thyroid two years ago, I have made a concerted effort to limit my exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including BPA, many of which are found in personal care products, from soap, shampoo and moisturizers, to makeup and sunblock.
I now make my own hand sanitizer. The “recipe” I use (see below) is adapted from SimplyLiving.com.
Yield: Apx. 2 ounces
3 tablespoons food-grade aloe vera
2 tablespoons witch hazel
1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
16 drops tea tree essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a flip-top squeeze tube.