New guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge doctors and nurses to stop washing their hands with soap and water between patients and instead rub on a fast-drying hand sanitizer. The alcohol-based gels are preferred not because they work better, but because they’re faster and easier to use, so hospital personnel is more likely to use them than take time to wash up.

So does this same logic apply in the salon? Is consistent sanitizing better than inconsistent sanitizing better than inconsistent washing up by you and your clients? “Hand washing is still best for salons as the primary means of cleaning hands,” says industry chemist Doug Schoon. “Hand sanitizers do not clean the hand, they only kill most of the bacteria and viruses on other type of contamination on the hand, these sanitizers will not remove them.” In other words, hand sanitizers only work on hands that are already clean. Plus, adds Schoon, “They will not prevent long-term contact with UV gel, liquid monomer, or other products not designed for skin contact, so they can’t prevent overexposure in salons.”

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