With hand sanitizers suddenly becoming hard to find globally, the unexpected demand for the product has shifted how brands — from beauty labels to distilleries — are doing business during the COVID-19 era.
To combat a shortage of hand sanitizer in France, for example, luxury brand conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said Sunday that it would start manufacturing hydroalcoholic gel “for as long as necessary” in the production facilities of its perfumes and cosmetics division.
“The gel will be delivered free of charge to the French health authorities and as a priority from this Monday to the Assistance Publique-Hȏpitaux de Paris,” the company said in a press statement, referring to the public hospital system.
In Austria, skin-care brand Susanne Kaufmann is doubling production of its Hand Spray Purif-i to 10,000 units to meet global demand, a representative said last week. The product, which has 62% alcohol content combined with hydrating glycerin and silk proteins, will be stocked locally at Violet Grey and Credo stores around April 1.
Closer to home, family-owned, San Francisco-based EO Products has sold out of scented hand sanitizer sprays, gels and wipes from its two brands, Everyone and EO.
“Over just a one-week period in mid-February, we saw sanitizer orders increase 1,300% for the Everyone brand on our website alone — not including our nationwide retailer presence,” said Tom Feegel, EO Products president.
Feegel said the company has increased production of its 2-ounce hand sanitizers by more than 450% within the last month as demand has continued to increase.
If you’re currently in the market for hand sanitizer — and want to support an L.A.-based business at the same time, there are options to consider that hit well above the 60% alcohol mark as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They smell good and are mostly affordable. (Keep in mind, hand sanitizers are meant to supplement the use of soap and water.)
New to the market is a hand wash from master distiller Morgan McLachlan, co-founder and chief product officer of L.A. botanics-driven spirits company Amass, which produces gin and vodka infused with botanicals. (Amass is also working on an apéritif due out this summer.)
“I am in a more vulnerable position given the fact that I can’t take a full breath at the moment,” said McLachlan, who’s expecting her first child in April.
Alarmed to discover that cleaning products and sanitizers were selling out at grocery stores because of coronavirus fears, she whipped up a batch of hand sanitizer for herself. It was an easy task, given her experience formulating with high-proof alcohol and botanicals.
After sharing the product with friends, family and co-workers, the reaction was so positive that McLachlan and her business partner decided to test the hand wash on the Amass site with an initial batch of 500 units. Sales have been swift. “I’m not much of a hustler, but I do like to be resourceful, you know?” she said. “It’s always good to have a desert island skill.”
Amass makes an alcohol-based hand wash ($38 for 16 ounces; $10 for 2 ounces) that’s crafted from medical-grade alcohol, aloe leaf juice, glycerin and a blend of cinnamon, allspice, clove and eucalyptus.
“I am starting with 96%, or 195-proof, alcohol, so it is easier to blend and have the alcohol level stay over 70%,” McLachlan said.
Sisters Jennifer Edmonds and Jocelyn Levine co-founded their affordable, hand-blended fragrance oil company Rx Candles Los Angeles in 2013. Focused on vegan, phthalate-free essential oils and soy wax candles with subtle scents, the company has extended into diffusers, room sprays, fragrances, sachets and a hand sanitizer, which was added to the line 18 months ago after customers specifically asked for it.
“We had maybe sold 50 total units of the sanitizers since we released them. It wasn’t a focus,” Edmonds said. “But four nights ago, we sold 700 units in one night to small businesses we had never worked with before on the wholesale marketplace Faire. There has also been a huge uptick in people finding our website just for the sanitizer.”
Rx Candles Los Angeles’ hand sanitizers ($5.50 in Fresh Fig, Lavender Oak, White Tea, fruity Bora Bora or woodsy Homme scents) are available at rxcandles.com or directly picked up at the company warehouse in Alhambra at hours listed on the label’s website. (The brand also has locations at Melrose Trading Post and Smorgasburg at Row DTLA. Both locations are temporarily closed because of the coronavirus guidelines.)
Now the brand is transitioning from a 1-ounce 62% alcohol gel to a 2-ounce 70% alcohol spray because of huge price spikes in the alcohol and aloe vera gel base that the sisters buy from bulk wholesalers to mix with their scented blends.
The Rx Candles Los Angeles formulation benefits from a higher alcohol concentrate, and the spray form is more versatile. “You can spray your car down with it,” Edmonds said.