Professional Beauty talks to Emma Davis founder of esst sanitising hand cream

In the last year and a half most of won’t have left home without a bevvy of hand sanitizers rattling around their bags. So many were developed and yet most are incredibly similar in formulation, with the same active ingredients (mostly alcohol) in a similar concentration. Needless to say, we’ve also all learned that, while effective at killing germs, most are drying to the skin, which causes its own problems. That’s why we were intrigued to talk to Australian makeup artist Emma Davis, who created esst, a sanitising hand cream that kills 99.9% of germs within seconds of application without the use of the usual drying ingredients.

The main active ingredient appears to be silver citrate, which was found to kill surface germs in medical studies published in 2017, the year Davis started formulating. “The  formula has been in development since 2017 and is not a product related to the pandemic,” says Davis. “I’m a makeup artist that was looking for a better way to sanitise between clients and I’m a person that has an understanding between the correlation of health and what you put onto your skin.” She says it was, first and foremost borne from a personal need for such a product, as new beauty products so often are. “I have to sanitise several times a day as a makeup artist so it doesn’t stop with protecting my hands hygienically. I wanted a single use product that would nourish, be quick drying so i wouldn’t slip on my brushes, natural and did what it said.” 

She had a long list of attributes she required in the final product, a combination that she was told couldn’t be created. “When we set out to develop a sanitizing cream that was natural and safe we were told it couldn’t be done in an emulsion,” said Davis. “We persisted and managed to tick our other boxes off: being 100% Australian owned and manufactured, Alcohol Free, Natural, Vegan, Cruelty Free and Sustainably sourced and manufactured. Even sourcing our packaging from a manufacturer that operates one of the largest privately-owned solar farms in NSW.”

When asked how she measures efficacy, Davis reveals they have the tests to back up the claims, which is exactly what you want to hear with a sanitizing hand cream and actually required if you use words like sanitizer in your product name. “The formula has been independently lab tested which confirms it kills 99.9% of bacteria,” she shares. “The test is a kill-rate test which esst passed at .30 seconds. it took some time to get the right mix and a handful of lab tests. this is the same test that all sanitisers do and i’m more than happy to provide the results. I did the PET testing as well which is not mandatory in Australia and in addition had a 19 page global regulatory report done. Being an innovative product I knew I needed to be armed with all the documents to substantiate my claims. This has proven to be true on a few occasions so far. Even shopify closed my website down just before launch because of the word sanitiser. They just didn’t understand the product, so that was back and forth for nearly 2 months.” 

One unfortunate experience with a set of unclean hands on her eyebrows has always left a lasting impression on Davis. Luckily, she says, the industry has moved on a bit and hand hygiene has, of course, been front of mind recently and likely will be for the foreseeable future. “I thought I would have to start with educating the beauty industry on the importance of having clean hands before working with a client. One time, I had an eyebrow tint and the therapist’s hands smelled of cigarettes. This ruined my experience and I was uncomfortable not knowing if her hands were  clean. I call myself a stylish germaphobe so having a more luxurious way to sanitise for our industry is fantastic.” 

esst sanitising hand cream currently sells in 500ml pump packs for professional beauty customers and 50mls for retail customers.  

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