Is gel or foam best for commercial skincare products?

January 2024

The great hand soap debate – gel or foam – when it comes to the workplace, which one is best and why? 

A lot of companies in the NZ food manufacturing space are making the switch from gel or liquid hand care products to foam ones, but is it just a fad? 

The answer is no, it’s not just a fad – foam products are here to stay for eight good reasons: 

  1. Cost savings – most ‘away from home’ dispensing systems will give you about 3 ml of product in a gel or liquid system on average and often if you watch people use the system, they will push the lever twice to get what they deem as ‘enough’ product to spread around their hands.  Now compare that to foam products which normally dispense 0.8 ml of product or less and come up with a good ‘dollop’ of foam in your hand – perceived as more than enough to wash or sanitise your hands.  These facts show a greater than 73% saving and that’s if the user only pushes the lever once with the conventional system! 
  2. No sticky after feel – with hand sanitisers, the gel types contain polymer thickening agents and other ingredients that can result in a ‘sticky’ feeling once you’ve applied it.  By comparison, good quality foam hand sanitisers contain no gelling and thickening agents and therefore leave no sticky after feel. 
  3. Quicker application – take a hand sanitiser as an example, you get complete coverage and rub in quicker with a foaming product than what is required to spread and rub in a traditional gel product.  Users also comment the foam is not cold when applying it in winter. 
  4. Non-clogging – the various ingredients used to thicken gel hand sanitisers tend to accumulate on the tip of the dispenser and pump resulting in clogging and unpredictable dispensing, sometimes “shooting” product on to walls and floors.  What’s worse than this is there have been ACC claims of product squirting people in the eye.  None of this happens with foam as the products contain no thickening agents. 
  5. No mess – gel products liquefy almost on contact with the hands and liquids are already runny, making it very difficult to manage the application without spilling or splashing.  Foam products by contrast stay on your hands during application. 
  6. Reduced ‘slip, trip and fall’ risks – gel or liquid products are typically dispensed in much larger doses than foam and the gel appearance means it’s more difficult to determine the proper amount required, often leading to over application.  This ends up with the excess landing on floors, creating a potentially dangerous slip hazard for passers-by. 
  7. No build ups – with hand sanitiser, the problem of accumulated ingredients on the tip of the dispenser in point four can occur on skin and common touch points such as door handles and light switches, as a result of multiple applications. Each application of the gel potentially adds another layer of thickening agents to skin, trapping soil and germs and providing a food source for bacteria.  This is the reason that gel hand sanitisers are sometimes banned in some food production sites. 
  8. A lot more effective – with good quality hand sanitisers, independent laboratory tests can prove they are efficacious to 99.999% against most germs and bacteria. Many alcohol gels claim efficacy at 99.99% or less which is only a tenth as effective as foam. 


Would you like to know more about which foam products are best for you in your specific situation?  Simply enter a few details in the form below and one of our Solutions Team will be straight back in touch with you.