Still need hand sanitizer? L.A. perfume makers have some for you

Ingrid Schmidt
L.A. perfumers are making new batches of hand sanitizer as the coronavirus pandemic continues.  (Kirsten Ulve / For The Times)

As a COVID-19-driven scramble for alcohol-based hand sanitizers continues, four Los Angeles fragrance creators are hand-blending natural, aromatherapeutic solutions in elevated scents to help fill the void.

On Thursday, Thousand Oaks-based perfumer Sarah Horowitz introduced a Stay Safe Sanitizing Spray ($10 for a 1-ounce bottle or a free 0.34-ounce bottle with every online order over $75, sarahhorowitz.com). The spray consists of an 80% concentrate of organic alcohol mixed with essential oils known for their antibacterial properties: clove, lemongrass, lavender maillette and patchouli.

“I think everyone is in that place of ‘What can we do to help?’” Horowitz said. “I have a fire-safe locker with 400 pounds of alcohol here in Westlake Village, since we also have a filling house for small-run perfumes that produces 15,000 to 20,000 bottles a month. The first thing I did was to make the sanitizing spray for my staff.”

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Stay Safe Sanitizing Spray ($10 for 1-ounce bottle) is made from 80% organic alcohol and lemongrass, clove, lavender maillette and patchouli essential oils.  (Sarah Horowitz Parfums)

Horowitz and her employees are wearing masks and gloves, hand-blending each product while standing six feet apart and adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the perfumer said. Orders can be picked up curbside at Sarah Horowitz Parfums in Westlake Village if arranged by phone.

Linda Sivrican said she decided to make natural sanitizing perfumes with a 70% organic alcohol base, “which lean on the benefits of essential oils,” after noticing the deficit of hand sanitizer and a peddling of products made from witch hazel instead of the 60% minimum alcohol base recommended by the CDC.

“My fine fragrance blends are specifically made to sanitize and to soothe the mind. I wanted to offer a piece of healing for people,” said Sivrican, founder of Capsule Parfumerie and owner of the L.A. store Orris Perfumery on Melrose Avenue.

On Friday, Sivrican released her limited-edition Sanitizing Perfumes ($20 for 1.7 ounces, orrisperfumery.com) in two soothing blends: a bergamot-rose-neroli Comfort and orange-lavender-vetiver Calm, both mixed with organic fractionated coconut oil to help counteract the alcohol’s dehydrating effects.

Similar to cologne waters (with higher alcohol and lighter scent), the perfumes are intended to be sprayed liberally on the fingers and palms and rubbed in for a few seconds as a supplement to soap-and-water hand washing.

Orris' 0.5-ounce Sanitizing Perfume, $8 in two scents, citrus-vetiver Joy and citrus-jasmine Hope, at orrisperfumery.com.  (Linda Sivrican)

Given the spiking demand for professional-grade alcohol, the perfumer decided to make the next batch of two new scents in smaller .5-ounce bottles ($8) in hopes of getting product out to a larger number of people. The small Sanitizer Perfumes come in a citrusy floral Hope (lemon, jasmine, cedarwood and bergamot) and a warm, earthy Joy (bergamot, vetiver and neroli).

Sivrican said she has the capacity to produce “maybe a couple hundred sanitizers a day” and is offering curbside pickup on phone orders from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays as well as free shipping on orders over $15. Customers also have the option to virtually create their own Custom Sanitizing Perfume ($25 for 1.7 ounces) through a phone consultation with Sivrican, consisting of two to five essential oils by Eden Botanicals, selected from a library of more than 250 with the perfumer’s guidance. “They are all hand-blended in L.A. with love and gloves,” she says.

Capsule Parfumerie founder Linda Sivrican at work in the Orris Perfumery store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.  (Linda Sivrican)

Another Los Angeles perfumer, Persephenie Lea, has been in the aromatics business since 2004. Lea is known for her range of natural perfumes, incense and smelling salts handcrafted from rare flowers, herbs, spices, roots and essential oils at a studio on South Fairfax Avenue. She is developing three new sanitizing products.

“I am incorporating essential oils known for their antiviral properties — eucalyptus, tea tree and ravensara,” Lea says of the new Sanity-ize range, which includes a 1.7-ounce hand sanitizer with about 70% alcohol ($18), a 1-ounce bar soap ($7) and a 1-ounce jar of smelling salts ($16). The products will be available starting Sunday at persephenie.com.

Los Angeles perfumer Persephenie Lea is developing an antiviral soap, hand sanitizer and smelling salts, due out on Sunday.  (Persephenie Lea)

“Through inhalation of the smelling salts, essential oils known for their antiviral properties may help ease the mind and combat stress,” Lea said.

Focused on energy healing, Michael Carbaugh hand-blends natural essential-oil concentrates, candles, home sprays and incense packaged in recycled vessels at the solar-powered headquarters of his aromatic studio, Sandoval, in Highland Park. (Each scent is charged with an energy crystal.) Thanks to the influence of his mother, Carbaugh began to develop a hand sanitizer last year. Because of the high cost of organic ingredients, he had shelved the product until last week when he noticed the need.

“Years ago, my mom started giving me those sanitizers made by EO that she would get at Sprouts or Marshalls,” he said. “At first, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, OK. These things are dumb.’ I’m very practical and I don’t like a lot of [things] in my life. But then it woke me up to the fact that everywhere we go, everything is dirty. So I started using them and I realized that hand sanitizer is actually important.”

Sandoval founder Michael Carbaugh at the company's solar-powered facilities in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.  (Michael Carbaugh)

The Sandoval hand sanitizer consists of a 70% organic alcohol base blended with organic lavender, palo santo and frankincense essential oils along with hydrating, cold-pressed organic aloe vera gel and jojoba oil ($12 for 2 ounces, studiosandoval.com). Carbaugh chose these essential oils because they have been used for centuries for their calming effects.

Sandoval's 2-ounce hand sanitizer in a lavender-palo santo-frankincense scent, $12 at studiosandoval.com.  (Michael Carbaugh / Sandoval)

The first batch of 20 hand sanitizers sold out in half an hour; a second batch of 200 is also gone. Carbaugh continues to make the product daily and is currently producing a third batch of several hundred. He is additionally working on sustainable refills and larger-sized products in more refined packaging, assuming that the current clamor will level out into a larger, long-range demand for hand sanitizer.

“At the scale of my operation, there’s no real way to make any money off a hand sanitizer made the right way, with organic ingredients that conditions the hands as it disinfects,” Carbaugh said. “But profit isn’t everything. Providing a service to the community is what’s important. My big thing with all of this is bringing people joy and a safe feeling."