Get the upper hand

Guest post by

Charlotte Haigh

Charlotte Haigh is a London-based health writer, contributing regularly to titles including Stylist, Marie Claire, Woman & Home, Healthy, Women's Health, Grazia and Health & Fitness.

Author views are not our own.

For most of us, hand sanitiser used to be something we’d buy from time to time, stash in a bag and use occasionally on camping trips or at festivals. Then came 2020 and the coronavirus crisis. Now, we’re clued up on the importance of hand hygiene and sanitiser is considered an essential buy. But what do you need to look for in a gel, and what’s the best way to use it? Here are four things you need to know.

1. Washing comes first

Let’s be clear – there’s no substitute for washing your hands and that should always be your first choice if you’re somewhere with access to soap and water. Covid-19’s genetic material is coated in a layer of fat, and soap can dissolve this, effectively breaking down the virus and stopping it binding to our cells.

Regularly washing your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting viruses like Covid-19, colds and flu, as well as other bugs such as food poisoning. If you’re not already in the habit, now’s the time to step up the hand-washing, as this winter we’re likely to be fending off all the usual cold, flu and norovirus bugs, as well as coronavirus1.

2. But gel’s handy on the go

You’re not always near a sink, though, and that’s where hand sanitiser gel comes into its own. Pre-Covid, most of us probably didn’t feel it that necessary to scrub away germs when we were out and about, but now we know all too well the importance of keeping our hands scrupulously clean. Public Health England recommends using hand sanitiser when you can’t get to soap and water and your hands are visibly clean (as gel won’t remove dirt).

So it’s ideal on public transport, for example. Remember, viruses can linger for hours on hard surfaces, and if you pick some up on your fingers and then touch your face, you risk transferring germs to your eyes or nose, and then into your body. You might take your chances when there are only seasonal colds to worry about, but during a pandemic, it pays to be meticulous.

3. It’s all about the alcohol...

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers work in a similar way to soap, dissolving Covid-19’s fatty layer so it can’t lock onto our cells. But sanitiser needs to contain a certain amount of alcohol to do a good job. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an effective gel should contain between 60 and 80 per cent alcohol2. Pump out the gel and make sure you get it all over your hands’ entire surface. So rub palm to palm, then with interlaced fingers over the backs of your hands, swapping over so you cover each hand, and not forgetting thumbs. Your hands are hygienic when they’re dry3.

4. Moisture’s a must

Alcohol may be effective at zapping germs but it’s also very drying, so if you’re using hand sanitiser on a regular basis, it pays to think about getting some moisture into your skin, too. Try our Hand Sanitiser With Manuka Honey – not only does it contain the recommended amount of virus-blitzing alcohol, coming in at 70 per cent, it’s also nourishing, to care for your hands. And its fast-drying formula makes it convenient for using when you’re out and about.

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