Lotion-based hand sanitizers work in the same manner as gel-based hand sanitizers but come in a thicker, more moisturizing formula. Like other sanitizers, however, it's important to look at the ingredients. Several of these popular formulas do not contain alcohol, which is the most effective ingredient for killing germs.
Nexcare Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer (*Est. $12 for 16.9 oz.) is the only hand sanitizer lotion in our reviews that contains alcohol. It gets a near perfect 5-star rating from users at Drugstore.com, who say that Nexcare leaves their hands very soft and doesn't have the strong chemical odor that many sanitizers are known for. The product contains 61 percent alcohol, so it's an effective germ killer. Additionally, the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetics database says Nexcare is one of the safest hand sanitizers. Editors at 3Luxe.com give the sanitizer their "Best of" pick because it is very moisturizing and isn't too heavily scented. Editors also point out that hospitals have been using the formula for years. In all, we only found one negative comment for Nexcare Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer – one user says that it leaves a sticky residue on hands. The product, manufactured by 3M, contains milder ingredients compared to other hand sanitizers. One downside: We found Nexcare hand-sanitizer lotion at major retail websites, but this hand sanitizer doesn't have the strong in-store presence of Purell or Germ-X, and it may be harder to find.
Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer (*Est. $9 for 12 oz.) is another lotion-based sanitizer that is growing in popularity, in part because of recent marketing campaigns. The formula contains five vitamins (including vitamins E and C) and seven moisturizer ingredients (such as jojoba, aloe vera, glycerin and shea butter). The company also says the formula is alcohol-free, contending that alcohol is "a solvent that can rob hands of moisture and break down skin's protective lipid barrier." Gold Bond relies instead on BAC, an antimicrobial that has been shown to be effective at killing some germs, but it hasn't been studied as thoroughly as alcohol and has only been tested in lab settings. (For further information about BAC, see our comments above in the section titled Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers.
Users at Amazon.com and Drugstore.com say they love the silky feel of Gold Bond hand-sanitizer lotion, and they say it is much gentler than gel-based formulas. Reviewers are split down the middle about the scent, however. Several say that it has a strong, unpleasant odor that lingers on hands. Others, however, enjoy the scent and say that it is relatively mild. Gold Bond is available in a 12-ounce pump bottle, a 2.7-ounce tube and a 1-ounce tube. A newer formula, Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Sheer Moisture (*Est. $10 for 12 oz.), is also available. It's a lighter-weight formula but has virtually the same ingredients, although in different quantities. There aren't very many reviews available for Sheer Moisture yet.
For those that like perfumed lotions, Bath & Body Works Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Lotion (*Est. $4 for 2 oz.) gets good reviews from several users at TotalBeauty.com. Reviewers say they love the wide array of scents available – more than 20 – and say that the fragrance lasts for several hours. Most say that the Anti-Bacterial Lotion is moisturizing and doesn't leave hands greasy. Editors at TotalBeauty.com say that it is definitely gentler than most hand sanitizers, but it's not strong enough to treat very dry hands. The biggest downfall of Bath & Body Works Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Lotion is that it relies on Triclosan as its active ingredient. Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that is commonly found in antibacterial soaps. Experts at the CDC say that it can increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics and should be used sparingly.