An amazing year for hand sanitisers

We can expect to see hand sanitisers everywhere, even when we are able to travel abroad again and when the economy fully recovers


WHO knew that hand sanitisers and face masks would be the hottest items in 2020, or any year, for that matter.

It is all thanks (or no thanks) to Covid-19 that we are seeing hand sanitisers everywhere — from restaurants to shopping malls and even petrol stations.

Although it used to be more prevalent in hospitals and clinics, hand sanitisers are now a part of the standard operating procedures to curb the spread of Covid-19. One must apply them before entering any premise.

The Challenge Begins

The outbreak may have begun in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year, but the panic only reached Malaysian shores when the earliest cases of Covid-19 were detected in late January 2020.

The demand for hand sanitisers surged as people started panic buying. There were hardly any hand sanitisers in the stores and if there were, the prices hiked by as much as 70%.

Sales of hand sanitisers in Malaysia reached almost RM1 million by the final week of January.

Although many businesses have been suffering during the pandemic, sales of hand sanitisers surged, but not without a catch.

In the beginning, local manufacturers had difficulties obtaining ethanol as it was mostly sourced from China, which at that time had the highest cases of Covid-19.

The price for ethanol was also increased significantly from RM4.50 per litre to RM18 per litre.

With the scarcity of hand sanitisers, some people resorted to making their own, which was believed to bring more harm than good.

An 11-year-old boy from New Jersey, US, suffered burns after applying a homemade hand sanitiser made by an owner of a local 7-Eleven store.

Although it was made with a commercially available foaming sanitiser, it was mixed with water into a spray bottle.

Recognising the opportunity and to keep up with consumer trends, cosmetic and skincare brands diversified their product lines to include hand sanitisers.

Chriszen Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s sales dropped severely during the pandemic and by April, their total cosmetic sales had almost died.

Henceforth, they introduced hand sanitisers into their product range, which not only fulfilled the increasing demand, but was still in line with the brand’s personal care and skincare category.


The Covid-19 pandemic, which has reinforced the significance of regular hand sanitising and cleaning practices among consumers, would drive the market, even after the pandemic (Source: ML Maju Pharmacy Facebook)

With many hand sanitiser brands in the market, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng warned the public that not all alcohol-based hand sanitisers are effective against infections despite their widespread use and promotion.

While many products have been properly manufactured with the right ratio of alcohol content, there are also those that have incorrectly mixed the ingredients.

Hence, we have been advised to use the recommended hand sanitisers according to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.

The product must either contain 80% ethanol, 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide; or 75% isopropyl alcohol, 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide.

In 2019, gel-based hand sanitisers dominated the global market.

Their thin watery formulation allows the gel to spread and absorbed easily to kill most germs. Notable brands like Sephora and Bath & Body Works have also included fragrance into their hand sanitisers, while some even have glitters in them.

However, the foam-based sanitiser is also set to be a contender to the alcohol-based type. It is expected to dominate the market with a

revenue-based compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.1% from 2020 to 2027.

These products are becoming popular due to their ability to penetrate the skin and remain there for a longer period of time.

To up the competition, some have made it even easier for consumers by coming up with a hand sanitiser wristband.

With its compact design positioned onto the wrist, consumers would not need to rummage through their bags or pockets for their bottles of hand sanitiser.

The wristband has a plug on the back which can be removed, so one’s choice of sanitiser can be filled.

Other variations include the oil-based type, which caters to those who do not like the clinical scent. They still contain 75% alcohol, but are infused with a range of plant-based oils in order to give it a natural scent.

The problem with using alcohol-based hand sanitisers is that they make your hands dry, so silk-based hand sanitisers act as a hydrating everyday skincare product.

Some consumers are also worried that hand sanitisers contain toxic preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride, petroleum-based and non-degradable thickening agents such as acrylates, endocrine disruptors like benzophenone and fragrances. Therefore, silk-based hand sanitisers eliminate the need for these harmful chemicals as they are made from pure silk protein dissolved in water.

The Future

Covid-19 is not the first pandemic to fall upon human race.

There was the Black Death in the 14th century, with a death toll of 200 million, which prompted governments to take more serious actions towards street cleaning, disposal of corpses and water maintenance.

In 1918, the Spanish flu had changed male attitudes towards personal hygiene.

Similarly, Covid-19 forces us to adopt good habits, especially in regards to hygiene, and realise that prevention is better than cure.

A market forecast stated that the global hand sanitiser market was valued at US$2.7 billion (RM10.88 billion) last year.

However, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% from 2020 to 2027 due to consumer’s preference towards convenient hygiene products.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has reinforced the significance of regular hand sanitising and cleaning practices among consumers, would drive the market, even after the pandemic.

We can expect to see hand sanitisers everywhere, even when we are able to travel abroad again and when the economy fully recovers.