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Despite the fact that there are no hand sanitizers that have been approved by Health Canada to have any specific COVID-19-related benefits, these on-the-go cleansers are a must-have for most people navigating the pandemic. Many Health Canada-approved formulas have been proven to help reduce the risk of infection by micro-organisms – look for the Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the product label to verify the efficacy of the liquid or gel – and there’s no doubt that some formulas can seriously dry out your mitts.

Isabelle Villeneuve, a biochemist, dermocosmetologist and the vice-president of strategy, quality and innovation at Laboratoire Dr Renaud in Laval, Que., says that it’s the germ-busting alcohol in hand sanitizers that’s to blame for irritation. “The alcohol actually dissolves the natural lipids on the skin surface. With regular use, it disrupts the skin barrier at some point,” she says. “It can be painful.” To lessen these side-effects, the brand developed a new formula that uses ethanol, which Villeneuve says has been found to cause less irritation than the alternatives. She also included glycerin, which helps reduce that drying effect of the alcohol. “It acts as like a water magnet,” she says. Finally, they added a dash of vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help calm inflammation.

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Laboratoire Dr Renaud Hand Sanitizer, from $8 through ldrenaud.com.

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