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Hand Hygiene Formulation Support in Response to COVID-19

Lean on personal care formulation experts to help alleviate the shortage of soaps and sanitizers

Published On: 03/23/20

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic keeps many North Americans in a state of self-isolation, we’re learning a lot about the value of community. We’ve seen it in everything from Facebook selfie chains to neighbors serenading each other from balconies. The lesson is that although we’re apart, we need each other now more than ever.

The same is true for manufacturers.

While consumers practice social distancing, manufacturers are hard at work supplying the goods needed to stay safe and healthy while the virus runs its course. People especially need liquid hand soaps, hand sanitizers, wipes, and similar products to keep their bodies and environments free of pathogens.

That’s a big responsibility for personal care formulators.

What we’re doing to help

BASF is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and continues implementing precautionary safety measures at sites across the country, aligned with our pandemic preparedness planning and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health officials. To minimize and limit exposure to employees related to coronavirus (COVID-19), and to maintain safe operations, BASF has instituted the following safeguards:

  • Require employees to work from home if their job allows.
  • Minimize the number of employees deemed essential at sites to keep operations running.
  • Require employees who work on site and visitors to sites to complete health screenings.
  • Direct employees to observe appropriate “social distancing” both generally and while on site.
  • Increase cleaning and disinfection measures at sites to be protective of employees.

Our priority remains the health and safety of our employees, contractors, and communities.

BASF will make every effort to maintain supply stability to the extent possible, and to minimize the overall impact to our customers’ business operations. We also have an existing line of formulas for in-demand applications such as disinfectants, liquid hand soaps, and wipes, many of which avoid raw materials that are currently difficult to find.

Speaking of which, let’s discuss some practical formulating tips that formulators can use in the coming months.

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How to formulate better products in the current climate

Consumers are already rising to the challenges this pandemic brings, from not touching your face (which is harder than it sounds) to thorough, regular handwashing. Whether you’re scrubbing along with Gloria Gaynor or practicing your technique with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you’ve likely heard the importance of washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

As we all know, excessive hand washing weakens the lipid barrier of the skin, and who needs dry hands right now? Moisturizing ingredients are essential in hand soap formulations. Lamesoft® PO 65 uses a nature-based lipid that also occurs naturally in human skin to create an intensive moisturizing, skin-softening sensation. Check it out in this Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap formulation.

Some surfactants found in soap can also be harsh on the skin. Plant-based surfactants, such as Plantaren® 818 UP and Plantaren® 1200 N UP, are mild and gentle on the skin and made with natural, sustainable ingredients. These non-ionic surfactants also work well with benzalkonium chloride for gentle sulfate-alternative antibacterial hand soaps.

Hand sanitizers are another sticky formulation challenge. It can be tough to get the right consistency in a high-alcohol formula, especially with carbomers currently in short supply. If you’ve read this far, you probably know that hand sanitizers are recognized by the FDA as OTC drugs, so there are some requirements manufacturers have to meet before starting production.

If your company is adding emergency capacity to make hand sanitizer, please check the FDA guidance before you start working on a new formula. BASF regulatory experts are here to help you decipher the new rules and regulations, so reach out to us!

If your company is already making hand sanitizers, you’re good to go! The following tips are for you.

If you need alternatives to carbomers, we have options. Cosmedia® Triple C, an EO-free cationic liquid dispersion polymer, thickens high alcohol formulations at as little as 2% (and offers a great sensory profile). Check out these two formulations that use it: Silky Hand Sanitizer and Safe and Soft Hygiene Hand Gel.

Alternatively, Cosmedia® Ultragel 300 is a do-it-all polymer that thickens and stabilizes formulations at very low concentrations, even 1% in recent tests.

If your formula’s main active ingredient is isopropanol or ethyl alcohol, Rheocare® TTA and Luviset® 360 are two dispersions of acrylic copolymer in water that excel at building viscosity in a high-alcohol solution. Rheocare® TTA is unpreserved and is ideal for transparent gels. It has a low pH, so look to add a neutralizer. Luviset 360 produces a crystal-clear finish, great gel texture, and works around pH 3-6. Check out Rheocare TTA in this Bactericide Hand Cleanser formula and Luviset 360 in this Crystal Clear Sanitizing Gel formula.

With everyone cleaning knobs and handles once per day, convenience is at a top priority. Emulgade® CM , a liquid emulsion concentrate, has everything you need for an effective skin conditioning wipe. Wet wipe Basic Formula will get you started on your way. Emulgade® CM can also tolerate isopropyl alcohol, so be sure to check out the Hygiene Wet Wipe formulation as well.

Reach out for support

For many consumers, personal care and self-care go hand in hand. (But not hand-to-face, if you can help it.) This is especially important in times of crisis. Formulators are the heroes that bring us products that promote sanitary conditions, healthy-looking skin and overall well-being. Our highly experienced team promises to focus on supporting formulators through the challenges they face in the lab.

Check out the resources at the bottom of the page and Reach out to us to customize formulation solutions that work for you.

Please check with the CDC, WHO and your local health authorities for more information, updates on the status of COVID-19 and precautions you can take to minimize risk.

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CDC recommends alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol


FDA Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-191) Guidance for Industry


Products for Hand Sanitizers:

Trade Name INCI 1,4-Dioxane Limit Function
Cosmedia® Triple C Polyquaternium-37 (and) Dicaprylyl Carbonate (and) Lauryl Glucoside Rheology Modifier
Cosmedia® Ultragel 300 Polyquaternium-37 Rheology Modifier
Luviset® 360 Acrylates Copolymer Rheology Modifier
Neutrol® TE Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine Neutralizer
Rheocare® C Plus Carbomer Rheology Modifier
Rheocare® TTA Acrylates Copolymer Rheology Modifier
Rheocare® HSP 1180 Polyacrylamidomethylpropane Sulfonic Acid Conditioning Polymer
Salcare® SC 81 UP Acrylates Copolymer Rheology modifier

Products for Liquid Hand Soap:

Trade Name INCI 1,4-Dioxane Limit Function
Plantaren® 818 UP Coco-Glucoside Surfactant
Plantaren® 2000 N UP Decyl Glucoside Surfactant
Plantaren® 1200 N UP Lauryl Glucoside Surfactant
Lamesoft® PO 65 Coco-Glucoside (and) Glyceryl Oleate Emollient
Euperlan® PK 3000 AM Glycol Distearate (and) Laureth-4 (and) Cocamidopropyl Betaine Pearlshine Concentrate

Products for Wipes:

Trade Name INCI 1,4-Dioxane Limit Function
Emulgade® CM Cetearyl Isononanoate (and) Ceteareth-20 (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (and) Glyceryl Stearate (and) Glycerin (and) Ceteareth-12 (and) Cetyl Palmitate Liquid Emulsion concentrate
Emulgade® CPE Olus Oil (and) Glycerin (and) Lauryl Glucoside (and) Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate (and) Glyceryl Oleate (and) Dicaprylyl Carbonate Liquid Emulsion concentrate

Important notice

Due to a significant increase in the demand for Hand Hygiene formulation ingredients, some products referenced may have limited availability. Please follow up with your local BASF account representative or distributor partner to confirm specific product availability.

Ready To Go Formulas:

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