Guru Kate: Hand sanitizer and Chapstick addiction

What is the connection between bacteria and hand sanitizer?

Dear bacteria baffled,

Hand sanitizer is everywhere, especially after the big scary swine flu outbreak. Which kinda opened my eyes to how gullible the human race is. This isn’t the soapbox, so I’ll step down and explain why hand sanitizer could lead to the next plague.

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol based, and alcohol will kill 99.9 percent of bacteria (which just goes to show I wasn’t lying when I said alcohol is a toxin). In reality, there’s a good chance you’ve already got antibiotic resistant bacteria all over your body, especially if you’ve traveled to a third world country where you’ve been prescribed a general antibiotic to take.

It works like this (if you believe in evolution): there’s a whole world of bacteria naturally found in your body. They’re generally good guys, helping you digest stuff you couldn’t normally digest and keeping everything moving like it should.

Then the big guns come in: the antibiotics. They kill everything. What survives? The bacteria that have beneficial mutations survive the antibiotic attack. These are the only bacteria that go on to fight future battles.

Break it down now: avoid going on a germ-killing spree either with antibiotics. Sure, be safe when you know you’re sick or you’re around sick people, but don’t get totally crazy about it. Try an alcohol based hand sanitizers which denature bacterial cells, reducing the risk of breeding supergerms.

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Otherwise you could end up a breeding ground for giant man eating bacteria and be the next source of the War of the Worlds. Ok maybe not that drastic, but hopefully you get the point.

Yours truly,
Guru Kate


Why is chapstick so gosh darn addicting?

Dear slippery lips,

Regarless of some fancy-shmancy chemical or biological explanation, it has to do with habits formed by your mind. If you think that you’re addicted to chapstick, you likely will be addicted to chapstick.

If you can’t stop thinking about how you forgot the handy dandy Burt’s Bees at home, and that in itself is making you lick your lips, it’s all in your head. If you licked your lips while reading this and have rampantly asked everyone around you if they have any chapstick, you’re probably addicted.

Just calm down.

It’ll be ok.

Just kidding, it’s not that serious of an addiction. Just stop thinking about your lips.  Stop it right now.


Ok maybe not, especially if you use carmex or blistex, or any other giant brand that is cheap. They typically contain salicylic acid or menthol, which can cause exfoliation and peeling. It’s a vicious cycle. Try switching to a “protectant”, which contain some type of animal or plant based fat.

These work by fatty acids property of hydrophobicity (here’s the chemical explanation) which means they hate water. Repelling water to hydrate your lips? Not as bass-ackwards as it sounds. It really traps the hydration your lips (naturally) to make them smoother, without the peeling and constant dryness.

Yours truly,
Guru Kate