Hand Sanitizers and Skin Health

An evaluation of 5 different hand sanitizers and their impact on skin dryness.
Anna Allidina
Grade 6


We think that the hand sanitizers with the most alcohol will have the most detrimental effect on the hands and will cause drying. We also think that the hand sanitizers that contain aloe vera will decrease the amount of dryness.


  • WHAT IS HAND SANITIZER? Hand sanitizer, also called hand antiseptic, handrub, or hand rub, agent applied to the hands for the purpose of removing common pathogens (disease-causing organisms). 1,2Hand sanitizers typically come in foam, gel, or liquid form. (1)
  • WHAT IS THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT IN HAND SANITIZERS? Hand sanitizers labeled as containing the term “alcohol,” used by itself, are expected to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol). Only two alcohols are permitted as active ingredients in alcohol-based hand sanitizers – ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or 2-propanol). (4)
  • WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF HAND SANITIZER? 1847 – Chlorinated lime solution for hand washing implemented in surgical settings
  • 1862 – Procedures of disinfection, sterilization and pasteurization are pioneered
  • 1875 – First non-water, non-soap cleaning agent breakthrough with ethanol
  • 1911 – 70% ethanol alcohol formulation breakthrough
  • 1936 – Isopropyl alcohol formulation breakthrough
  • 1965 – First alcohol-based hand sanitizer in production
  • 1988 – Gel-based hand sanitizer serves U.S. food service and medical sanitation
  • 1996 – Consumer gel-based hand sanitizer launches in USA
  • 2003 – World’s first non-aerosol alcohol foam hand sanitizer invented
  • 2019 – U.S. FDA issues hand sanitizer product recall, final rule on active ingredients
  • 2020 – Deadly alcohol hand sanitizer contamination, U.S. FDA issues ongoing product recall
  • 2020 – Alcohol-free sanitizing mode of action breakthrough launches worldwide (5)


  • HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN USING HAND SANITIZER? In Ohio, a possible solution was already being invented. Husband and wife Jerry and Goldie Lippman noticed that the men who worked in Goldie’s rubber factory were complaining of irritated hands at the ends of their shifts, where they frequently disinfected their hands in harsh chemicals. As a solution, they developed an alcoholic mixture that was gentler on skin, and they sold them out of repurposed pickle jars in Akron beginning in 1946. They called the product GOJO Hand Cleaner. Then in 1988, the GOJO Hand Sanitizer company released PURELL Hand cleaner. (6)
  • DOES HAND SANITIZER EXPIRE? Hand sanitizer does have an expiration date. Recently expired sanitizer may retain some effectiveness but is likely less effective than an in-date product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate hand sanitizer and other over-the-counter antiseptic products. (7)
  • HOW LONG WILL HAND SANITIZER STAY ON YOUR HANDS AFTER BEING APPLIED? According to a recent survey, half of all Americans think the antibacterial gels last longer than they do -- which is two minutes, according to germ experts. The survey was funded by Healthpoint, which sells a sanitizer the company says works for up to six hours. CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. (8)
  • WHICH IS BETTER, HAND SANITIZER OR HAND WASHING? Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to remove all types of germs and chemicals. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. (9)
  • WHAT IS ALOE VERA? A gelatinous substance obtained from a kind of aloe, used especially in cosmetics to soften or soothe the skin. (10)
  • HOW IS ALOE VERA INCLUDED IN HAND SANITIZER? The key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to stick to a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the
  • HOW IS HAND SANITIZER PRODUCED?hand sanitizer mixer performs the following processes: Water and Carbopol are mixed, until it forms a viscous gel. To obtain a conglomerate-free mixture, it is ensured that aeration is prevented during mixing. Alcohol is then added in the second phase of mixing until the mixture forms a uniform product. (12)
  • WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF HAND SANITIZER DELIVERY METHODS? There are foam and gel sanitizers and wipes. All 3 delivery systems (foam, gel, and wipe) produced significantly reduced viral counts on hands. (13)




 Controlled: The factors that stayed the same were the hands and the participants.

 Independent: The factor that is changed is the type of hand sanitizer.

 Dependent: The factor that is measured is the amount of dryness and the amount of stickiness or wetness of the hand sanitizer.


1. Make sure participants have hand sanitizers

2. Test each hand sanitizer minimum 5 times a day for 3 days. Use a dime size amount each time, and make sure to take morning and night pictures of hands.


1. Guard hand sanitizer-MEDICINAL: 65% of ethyl alcohol,NON-MEDICINAL: Water(Aqua), Isopropyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Aloe Barbandenis leaf juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Carbomer, Amihom ethyl propanel, and Fragrance(parfum).

2. Cyber Clean hand sanitizer-MEDICINAL: 72% of ethyl alcohol, NON-MEDICINAL: Purified water, Gycerol, Carbomer 980, Fragrance, Triis oporpano lamine, and Aloe Barbandenis extract.

3. Clean Drops hand sanitizer-MEDICINAL: 78% of ethyl alcohol, NON-MEDICINAL: Water(Aqua), Glycerine, and Hydroxypropylellulose.

4. SaniPur hand sanitizer(with Aloe and Vitamin E)-MEDICINAL: 75% of ethyl alcohol,NON-MEDICINAL: Aqua, Isoproypl Alcohol Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Propylene Glycol, Polyacrylic acid, Aloe extract, and Tocopherylacetate.

5. Medico Aid hand sanitizer-MEDICINAL:74% of ethyl alcohol, NON-MEDICINAL: Water, Glycerin, Carbomer, and Triethanolamine.

6. Cell phone to take photos





Particpant A tried this hand sanitizer and thought it was very sticky and drying.


Participant A liked this hand sanitizer the best because it wasn't as drying and she liked the dispensing method.


Particpant A thught this hand sanitizer was not drying but did not like the dispensing method because it coms out in a big blob which the participant did not like.




Name of Hand Sanitizer




Clean Drops




Cyber Clean








Medico Aid










Analysis was based upon participant feedback and viewing morning and night pictures.

Clean Drops was sticky and very drying to the hands. Note that this was a gel, so this may have contributed to its stickiness. 

SaniPur was gentle on hands and had an easy delivery system(pump system) compared to the other sanitizers which were squeaze bottles.

Medico Aid was also gentler on hands and did not cause as much drying as Clear Drops. 

Guard was also gentle on hands and did not cause dryness.

Cyber Clean was very strong scented and drying to the hands and because of this, the participant did not like this sanitizer as much.


In conclusion, particpant A found that SaniPur and Medico Aid were the least drying on her hands and found that Clean Drops dried her hands the most. Coincidentally, SaniPur and Medico Aid had a lower percentage of alcohol. Paticipant B found that the Guard hand sanitizer was not as drying as Cyber Clean to her hands. Particpant B liked the Guard hand sanitizer which had less of a percentage of alcohol than Cyber Clean which was very strong scented and drying. Our hypothesis was that the hand sanitizers with the higher alcohol content would be more drying to the hands and we were correct. Something to note is that the addition of aloe vera helped in preventing dryness as seen with the SaniPur results. Our top two sanitizers, as determined by participant A and B, are SaniPur and Guard.


During the current pandemic situation, hand sanitizers have become a necessity. All hand sanitizers that were tested in this experiment will be effective in protecting against COVID-19. Because hand sanitizers contain different percentages of alcohol, they can be extremely drying to hands. The addition of aloe vera in hand sanitizers has shown in this experiment to cause a decrease in the dryness of hands.

Sources Of Error


1.Particpants had missed a few pictures but still did sanitization daily. 

2.We were notified about the Science Fair a little late this year so we couldn't test the hand santizers for a long enough period of time.

3.The time of year we tested the hand sanitizers was during one of the coldest months in the year and so we are wondering if there would be a difference during a different time of year.

4. If we were to do this again, we would like to incorporate a schedule for use of the sanitizers so that it would be more regulated. 

5. Our analysis of the results was very subjective based on only two particpants feedback. If we were to repeat this project again, not only would we include more participants but we would also use skin mosture analyzers which could test various skin factors using something called bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA). (14)

6. Have all participants use all types of hand sanitizer.











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We would like to start off by acknowledging our science fair teacher for letting us participate in the science fair this year. We would also like to thank our parents for testing the hand sanitizers and giving us inspirations.