Dancer-turned entrepreneur knew Methanol was a no for hand sanitizer

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For the past six years entrepreneur Caryl Brandes has been making and selling her own brand of natural personal care products. When the need for hand sanitizers became urgent, she instinctively knew, Methanol and other harsh ingredients were not a good idea. Photo by Hal Brandes - courtesy of Caryl B.



With the spread of the Coronavirus now in more than 60 countries, the sales and consumption of hand sanitizer has surged to more than 250 percent by some estimates. According to Kantar Research Marketing of Britain and Neilson here in the United States, hand sanitizer has been disappearing off of store shelves as fast as supplies come in.

With the consumption of this disinfecting convenience there are concerns. The use of at least 60 percent alcohol in some form (isopropyl or ethyl) in many brands of hand sanitizer can lead to dry, chapped skin. Which then in turn allows germs to be ingested through chapped hands.

Personal care products entrepreneur, Caryl Bandes, of Caryl B, knows all too well what harsh chemicals and ‘rubbing alcohol’ can do to the skin. Since embarking on her personal care products venture, Brandes has learned a great deal about the importance of natural ingredients and more wholesome manufacturing methods.

“Our Beautiful Hand Sanitizer is not made with Methanol.” Mentioning that the use of some form of alcohol as a disinfectant has been around for a very long time, Brandes also said. “Our hand sanitizer does contain alcohol – you must have this to kill the germs. Yet as she emphasized, “it is the type of alcohol that is the important factor – Ethanol type alcohol is dangerous. I use only a non-GMO form.” She instinctively knew that using harmful forms of alcohol was counter-productive. That is why she’s not surprised by the recent news that the use of certain forms of alcohol in hand sanitizers has caused poisoning-related issues.

Skin is to be protected, nourished not depleted and made vulnerable by harsh ingredients like some forms intense alcohol or chemicals. “I never even thought of using Methanol,” Brandes said.

Hand sanitizer is one of many personal care products that Caryl B provides. Always an eye on design & packaging as well as high quality product, founder Caryl Brandes, likes things that have that special something. Hence her product line’s phrase, “Gift That Pamper.”

“I do not like the medicinal smell of most sanitizers, she continued. Yet mine has a pleasant citrus fragrance. We added moisturizing emollients that help soften the skin and makes a good product.”

Despite the turmoil the Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed upon the economy, Brandes is busy and sees the importance of keeping businesses going. No stranger to retail and hard work, Caryl B personal care products is Brandes’ third or is it her fifth career venture?

Referring to it as ‘this hop scotching around,’ Brandes has been having fun – amid the hard work while learning new things along the way.

“l landed on ‘go’ over six years ago looking to find quality soap and hand cream that worked on my dry, very sensitive skin – and couldn’t find any, she said. So, I decided to make my own” And with that, Caryl B was born. “I am proud of my product, both for its quality and packaging.”

The packaging she credits to her husband Hal, a professional photographer and artist. Through the years, they have been on many professional and artistic adventures together.

Still, even before meeting and building a life with Hal, she was always drawn to the arts. “I loved dance,” she said. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she left NY to attend a dance arts program at the University of Illinois. “But I knew after dedicating myself to it, that I was not meant to be a dancer,” Brandes said.

She and Hal married building a family life. With their two daughters, eventually, they made way to California. Her experience and skills from art always seemed to be the light on the path, even when things got difficult; like when the Recession of 2008 hit.

Brandes was a realtor in the Wine Country then and even as she was successful, the Recession, took her by surprise, as it did so many people. Not one to wallow regret she and Hal put their talents together to form Caryl B products “Gifts That Pamper.”

Recollecting those years in New York and the creative and assertive energy that is Manhattan, Brandes understood retail and merchandising intuitively. The global market and now e-commerce is a challenge she admits. But she not only believes in her product line she knows something intrinsically about any business. “Bravery and endurance is crucial,” she said.

Yes, it has been a challenge being one’s own vendor going to farmer’s markets, craft fairs and the like. But, she has greater quality control over her products and she sells directly to her customers, not a mall or retailer be it virtual or the traditional brick and mortar.

For as Brandes views the situation, it’s the combination of high quality product contained in a uniqueness of packaging – “thanks to Hal’s fine-art photography skills, that is what sets us apart from the competition. And, best of all, she said, we craft everything in the USA.”