Wine, sure. Food, of course. But I never aspired to be a hand sanitizer connoisseur; that is until the past few months when those little bottles became an essential item. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to be effective, formulas must be at least 60% alcohol, often identified as ethanol or ethyl alcohol on the list of ingredients. It’s easy to check, however after a few months of degerming after every encounter, I grew tired of aggressive ones that dried out my skin, liquid solutions that ran all over and leaked in my purse, and others that left me smelling like I was scrubbing up for surgery or, even worse, like an artificial fruit flavor. And as much as I mourned the day I left my Trader Joe’s grapefruit-and-lemon spray behind after dinner at Lineage in Wailea, I wanted to buy local.
So, the hunt began for a nondrying, easy-to-use Hawaiʻi line with natural scents. When I began my research a few months ago, everywhere was sold out. Fortunately, most have restocked. Here are the ones I tried.
Lanikai Bath and Body
Gel hand sanitizers were one of the original products Brook Gramann and Gloria Garvey offered when they opened their natural bath-and-body business in 2005. It’s been popular ever since and I can see why. The thicker gels stay put in your palm and aloe vera smoothes the skin without stickiness. Plus, the Kailua- and Kāneʻohe-made sanitizers are available in eight scents, all offering the same light, natural touch Lanikai Bath and Body is known for: Gardenia is subtly fragrant instead of heavy and cloying, plumeria smells freshly picked, and the salt-and-sunscreen-infused beach scent works for men and women. Gramann says fortunately they had enough containers and alcohol—two items that ran short nationwide—to meet demand when sales quadrupled this spring. The company was also able to launch a spray sanitizer, which is now selling as well as the gels, and 32-ounce bags for refilling. You can purchase online and pick up at the store to avoid shipping fees. Use code ALOHA for a 15% kamaʻāina discount. I’ve already bought my stash.
Sprays are great for people looking for quick-drying options and easy coverage. Island Essence offers six blends, all highlighting the aromatherapy aspect of the brand’s mission. Co-owner Denise Diamond started the Maui company in 1990 to introduce more people to the benefits of essential oils. Some of the 63% alcohol sprays were a bit astringent smelling at first, so you will need to let the aromas open up a bit before taking a big whiff. That being said, the lavender and lavender peppermint sanitizers were light and pleasant. Fruity choices such as coconut and mango didn’t come across as well. But all sprays have aloe vera gel for a nice nondrying experience.
Auds and Ends and Jules + Gem Hawaiʻi
I haven’t worn strappy stilettos in months, but there is something about the mimosa-scented hand spray that made me feel like I was heading out for a chic brunch with friends. If only. It’s exactly what you might expect from a collaboration between the Best of HONOLULU-winning candle and fragrance maker Lana Gronwald and accessory line Auds and Ends. I have dry skin so after a few pumps of the 75% alcohol-based blend, my skin was missing the moisture of some other options, but the aroma was so relaxing, I didn’t mind. The limited-edition collab is one of the more expensive sanitizers, at $15 for 2 ounces, but the price didn’t keep it from selling out online. You can order the mimosa scent or the next collab—Hawaiʻi Bay Breeze, with notes of pineapple, coconut and tropical citrus—through Ten Tomorrow in Kaimukī or on Auds and Ends online shop. Gronwald also has guava nectar and passion fruit mint scents available on her website.
Puna Noni Naturals
This suggestion came from our Frolic Hawaiʻi managing editor Mari Taketa, who uses it herself. The 62% ethanol pīkake-scented gel contains aloe vera, noni juice and several moisturizing oils. The result is a thicker product that takes a while to dry and can leave your hands feeling tacky. Still, the benefit of this all-natural sanitizer is the smell, which Mari says is “like sitting next to a blooming pīkake bush on a warm evening.”
$26 for a three-pack of 3.4-ounce bottles, $41 for six, punanoni.com.
When we searched for local hand sanitizers, a set popped up on Dole Plantation’s online store. Website sales are still active although the plantation has been closed since spring. (No, you can’t get Dole Whip, in case you were wondering.) The five pack of 1-ounce bottles is made on the North Shore and comes with an assortment of plumeria, gardenia and, as fitting for Dole, passion pineapple. These liquid sanitizers smell like old-school Hawaiʻi perfumes: strong and old-fashioned and the liquid quickly ran out of my palm. I wasn’t a fan of any of the scents but my 10-year-old happily snatched up the whole set.
$13.95 for a five-pack of one gardenia hand sanitizer, two passion-pineapple and plumeria, doleplantation.com.
This story originally appeared on the website of our sister publication, HONOLULU Magazine.