When Shannon Bradford couldn’t find a treatment for her reactive perforating collagenosis – a rare abrasion-causing skin condition she’s managed since birth – she decided to try crafting her own. The result became the prototype of Cleansing Dew, the signature product of Bradford’s company, Hossmas – and the item that launched this line of St. Louis-made “supergreen self-care” products.
“Before I started formulating, my treatment options were limited to steroid creams to treat the itching, antibiotic ointments to prevent infection and retinols for scarring,” explains Bradford, noting those options’ ineffectiveness for her dermal needs. “Since I never had any options to encourage faster healing and increased skin regeneration, I didn’t really have anything to lose by trying to create some options on my own.”
What Bradford lacked in a skin care or health background, she made up for in interest and research. She began working on the line while studying law at Saint Louis University in 2009, but didn’t decide to launch a brand until 2016. “Being a law student allowed me unfettered access to campus libraries and medical and legal databases,” she says. “If I wouldn’t have had the ability to research all those journal articles and patent applications, I wouldn’t have known where to start.” Hossmas (named after her 14-year-old dog, Hoss) officially opened for business in 2017.
Hossmas products include Cleansing Dew, as well as cleansers, moisturizers, oral products, deodorant and treatments. For those looking to bring their medicine cabinet back to basics, there’s the clear-drying Purity Deodorant Cream, designed to control odor while nourishing the skin, as well as the mild Tahitian Polishing Paste, made with Oregon clay to clean and brighten teeth. Liver Lover, a tincture designed to be ingested with water, is made with milk thistle seed and designed for a liver-friendly detox.
Several creations are also available as beauty product replacements. For the face and chest, there’s the Unmask Revitalizer, designed to exfoliate the skin. Two moisturizers (Mystic Blue Cream and RA Cream) are available, as well as three additional cleansing dews: Rosey, Lunar and Emerald.
Unsure what to use or how your skin will react? The products are designed for the “hypersensitive” and are free of genetically modified organisms, synthetics and preservatives. Customizable sample packs are available and include three trial items selected by the consumer, as well as a 15 percent discount code for an upcoming purchase.
Products are designed with sustainably sourced botanicals and earth minerals, such as jojoba, chia seed oil, aloe vera and yuzu, an Asian fruit – and many of the ingredients, like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and turmeric, may be ones customers already know from kitchen use. Because Bradford still practices law, Hossmas is her “passion project” and is based out of her home in St. Louis’ Benton Park neighborhood. All items are crafted at her home studio and are available through the Hossmas website, as well as at select area boutiques including Mineral and Root in Maplewood and Urban Matter on Grand. Bradford also can be found at events around the metro area, including frequent appearances at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market.
When designing a new item, Bradford says the motivation comes from products that don’t work for her. “For instance, with Cleansing Dew, I started making that because I was looking for a cleanser that would remove makeup, clarify my pores and infuse skin-loving stuff like omegas and antioxidants, and I knew foam cleansing, coconut oil and glycerin made my skin upset,” she says. When she needs to create her own holistic concoction, she starts by researching and testing oils, extracts and herbs, then trying the new mixture on herself and, eventually, friends and family.
On the horizon for Hossmas are many new items, likely including body creams, a peel, lip balm and additional herbal tinctures. And because the brand takes its name from her dog, she’s also looking into an oral care product for canines.
“In my experience, I’ve found that specific botanicals and minerals actively work better in skin care and oral care, but natural isn’t necessarily better if the intent behind the product isn’t valid,” says Bradford. “My intent in creating Hossmas began because I wanted to take the best care of myself as I could. I wanted to create sustainable and effective products, so I did.”