Prebiotic Hand Sanitisers: Keeping up with Post-COVID Premiumisation


A fragrance label from Singapore has released a line of hand sanitisers with prebiotics to keep up with the post-pandemic premiumisation of the hand care category.

After debuting with a trio of mindful perfumes, Scent Journer has launched the Microbiome Hydration Hand Sanitiser, three hand sanitisers that correspond with the scents of its inaugural collection.

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Asia​, founder Joyce Lian acknowledged that it may seem like a “weird timing”​ to launch hand sanitisers now, given that we are putting the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.

However, she contends that after two years of sanitising our hands regularly, the habit is now ingrained in us. As a result of consistent sanitation, many people have experienced the discomfort of dry and cracked skin.

While this is not fresh news to anyone, Lian has observed a gap in the market for hand sanitisers that truly help people who experience this, especially people with skin conditions like eczema.

“I could have just developed a typical hand sanitiser with aloe vera to help with moisturising the skin, but because of my science background, I felt this was an opportunity to bring some more uncommon ingredients to the market. There are a lot of good ingredients out there that just get stuck in the lab.”

Her research led her to develop a hand sanitiser with Fensebiome by Lubrizol, a prebiotic peptide that helps to microbiota balance and diversity by increasing beneficial bacteria that is found in healthy skin.

“I like to say its Yakult for the skin. Hand sanitisers tend to kill both good and bad bacteria, so Fensebiome really helps to bring the good bacteria back into our skin and helps to strengthen the skin’s immunity,” ​Lian explained.

“It’s a prebiotic with a probiotic effect. It helps to increase the good bacteria and decrease the bad bacteria, which is further decreased by alcohol. In the long run, it can help people with sensitive skin, and eczema, which happen because of our hyper-clean environment.”

According to the company, its hand sanitiser can increase Staphylococcus epidermidis, a beneficial bacterium, by 19% and decrease the bad bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus by 9%.

Furthermore, testing it on 44 female volunteers with dry, damaged, or sensitive skin on hands for seven days saw a decrease in skin roughness by 8.9%.

Other trials also found that it increased skin hydration by 5.7% and decreased skin desquamation, or peeling skin, by 2%.

According to Mintel data and Lubrizol’s internal success stories, Scent Journer is the first brand to use Fensebiome in a hand sanitiser. This is likely because it may be considered a costly ingredient to use in a hand sanitiser.

“I’ll be honest – the profit margin for this isn’t the highest. Definitely not compared to normal hand sanitisers. It’s because the active is a really premium ingredient. It’s kind of crazy to do this, but I really wanted to bring this out to help people who need it,” ​said Lian.

At the same time, she believes that consumers are now more willing to pay for premium hand sanitiser.

“I do find that people are willing to spend more, especially now that they have felt the effects of the cheaper alternatives – like those one- or two-dollar ones— that will dry out your hands if you keep using them.”

In addition, the company conducted a consumer study with a group of mothers to learn what they needed from hand sanitisers and what would motivate them to pay more.

“Even if we may not take care of ourselves as much, we will always take good care of our kids and we want the best for them. The two most important points were that they didn’t want anything sticky or drying.”
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