National center for infection control professionals, healthcare experts, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and consumers focused on best practices in hand hygiene and hand sanitizer products

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Truth In Advertising: The Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Marketing Wars

We're a big advocate of alcohol-free hand sanitizers. We're also a big advocate of truth in advertising and comparing products and prices.

We just noticed a massive PR campaign initiated by a product called Remi-D. The manufacturer has just initiated a massive PR campaign positioning its product as "all natural".

Its an alcohol-free product that uses benzalkonium chloride (BAC) as the active ingredient. Much like one of the leading products we've mentioned here before: "Soapopular". But Soapopular does not make outsized claims, and unlike almost every other competing non-alcohol product, Soapopular does not contain fragrances or dyes, which supports its claim i.e. hypoallergenic.

1. Remi-D is NOT "all natural". Yes, it contains organic compounds..but these aren't elements that grow on they are not, in the definition of "all naturual", all natural. 1. Below are the ingredients:
Benzalkonium Chloride
Dihydroxypropyl PEG -5Linoleammonium Chloride
Glycereth-2 Cocoate
Behentrimonium Chloride

2. Yes, its a heckuva lot better and safer to the skin when compared to alcohol products i.e. Purell.
3. There are OTHER ALCOHOL FREE PRODUCTS that don't (falsely) claim to be "ALL NATURAL", but do contain the same active ingredient benzalkonium chloride (BAC). The latter is fine..BAC is considered the safest organic compound, and we prefer this active ingredient. Organic compound in the scientific sense, not the 'tree hugger' sense. But this ingredient is a widely-recognized antiseptic, and its been used for decades in a variety of health care products, including Bactine antiseptic and J&J Foaming Antiseptic.

Its proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of germs, bacteria and viruses. And it can be applied to cuts and scrapes. Not something that you would do with Purell.

We're making these points simply because we take exception to false claims. This isn't to say that Remi-D. doesn't kill germs, and that it isn't better than Purell. It is. We just raise our eyebrows when manufacturers are compelled to push the envelope, and justify exorbitant prices based on claims that are not true. In this case, the terminology "all natural" is one that intoxicates consumers into parting with more of their hard-earned money. If its not all natural, then they shouldn't say it is.

3. Per above, an alternative product is called Soapopular. See the lower photo. Sooapopular does not make false or exaggerated claims, and it uses BAC as the active also, but its fragrance free and dye free, which supports the manufacturer's claim that its not only antiseptic, but that its hypoallergenic. Visit for details.

Of greatest importance, you'll find that the Soapopular product is 1/2 the price of Remi-D. 1/2 the price. Shall I say again? OK.. Soapopular is half the price of Remi-D.

Soapopular has also been endorsed by Parents Magazine, Oxygen Magazine, Lucky Magazine and has been implemented in 250+ schools in the US and 500+ schools in Canada. This is also a fact. We've seen their Purchase Order and Sales Lists.

4. There's also a distinction, however tiny, between saying something is 99.99% effective and 99.9% effective. The distinction comes down to the number of seconds that it takes for the formula to kill the pathogens. And the number of seconds between 99.99 and 99.9 is actually inconsequential, but the 99.99 number sounds better. Is a marketing tactic. But it also needs to be substantiated. Remi-D makes the former claim, but there is no documentation on their website that supports that claim.

4a. Remi-D claims that its product is available in all CVS stores, and many other retailers. It is NOT available in all CVS stores, although it is available in a select number of locations on a "trial basis". We checked.

Soapopular, on the other hand, is the only hand sanitizer product available at, and its's most popular product in the category. Its also available in 2000+ retail stores throughout the US, and is marketed and distributed throughout Europe, select parts of Asia, South America and portions of the Middle East.

5. If we had a choice, we'd wash with soap and water. But we don't always have the ability to wash with soap and water, so when making a choice between hand sanitizers--be concerned about outsized claims and outsized prices.

Putting a fragrance or a dye into a hand sanitizer is a potentially dangerous thing to do for those that have low immune systems or those that are prone to allergic reactions. That's a fact.

Spending 2x the amount of money for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer product that provides the exact same germ/bacteria/virus killing ability and protection vs. a competing product that uses the same active ingredient, simply because the more expensive brand is falsely claiming to be "all natural" is a complete waste of money. That's also a fact.

No comments: