I started Soap Gnome (now Gnome Naturals) to offer a better alternative to soap today. As an avid gardener, I was inspired to use natural, plant-based ingredients as a substitute to synthetic exfoliators, chemically-produced moisturizers, and toxic fragrances. It took me a long time to learn why my sensitive skin was always reacting to soap, and I remember many reactions I suffered through during this time. I’d like to share my story to highlight who we are, but more importantly, share my personal journey that resulted in a deeper understanding of the need for healthier soap options.
My journey was catalyzed by a hearing impairment diagnosis I received in my early 30’s. At this point, I had lost 70% of my hearing, and due to the type of hearing loss, and the lack of a genetic connection, it was deduced that the cause was a “chemical exposure.” It made no sense to me. I started to analyze my life, about the various chemicals I had been exposed to, to see if I could speculate on the root issue. I grew up in motorsports – perhaps it was one of the lubricants, oils or other liquids and gases I was exposed to. I remembered struggling with sensitive skin and acne in my late teens and early 20’s, and can’t even imagine all the various skin creams, soaps, clarifiers, exfoliators, masks and treatments I experimented with – perhaps those were equal or larger contributors?
In my 20’s I had developed allergies and started to experience physical reactions to certain products that I came in contact with. I noticed fragrances were a common offender. I ended up giving away my entire perfume collection after a few years, to avoid chronic headaches. I started searching for “sensitive skin” labels, and those products seemed to help. The only problem was that I missed the joy you get from aromas. Soap was one of the biggest repeat culprits throughout my 20s for allergic reactions with my skin. I realized over time, the less chemicals I looked for on the back of the ingredients page, the better reaction I had. I fought a long battle at trying to keep fragrances in my soap, but after many harsh reactions, I finally decided that I needed to remove fragrances and dyes. While boring, they worked. I ended up settling at a solution that was basically fragrance-free, glycerin body soap and a fragrance-free, sulfate-free face wash.
And then I began researching, a great resource being the EWG's SkinDeep Cosmetics Database. I was able to look at the toxicity of ingredients within my current beauty regime and was shocked to find that they not only contained toxic ingredients, but were linked to all sorts of diseases from cancer to alzheimers. I suddenly realized that I may have been "exposing" myself to toxic chemicals everyday from what I thought were relatively benign beauty products from brands I trusted. Brands who had convinced me that they cared in their advertising, yet by virtue of their ingredients, clearly had other motives in play.
I started gardening several years ago. It began during a quest to live life more sustainably. My husband and I bought a mini farm that allowed us to grow our own food and produce our own energy; and ultimately live a more balanced lifestyle. We purchased an abandoned old farm with a few completely baron acres. Over a few years, we started to build a garden. In our vegetable garden, I discovered herbs, and the many wonderful benefits these plants offer. And in the flower gardens, I was introduced to perennials and vines such as honeysuckle and jasmine, that offered some of the most amazing, unforgettable fragrances of the summer. I was inspired by the scents, flavors and healing properties plants provide and was constantly looking to include them in DIY projects. After one of the worst allergic reactions I had ever experienced with a bar of soap, I decided to start making my own soap. I created my first (successful) batch of soap with an infusion of mint, sage, rosemary and basil herbs; I took a shower and experienced what I refer to as "soap zen." I’ve suffered with breakouts, rashes, itchy and dry skin, and allergic reactions all caused by soap throughout my life, so soap had become a necessary evil. This soap was different. It helped. It helped balance my skin, and suddenly I found I could only use one bar of soap instead of multiple.
Every morning I was excited to take a shower. This experience was reminiscent to the trials and tribulations of gardening. The consistent, loving care required to nurture and stimulate growth and longevity. And just like in gardening, the less chemicals used, the better it can sustain itself, and the better it is for you when you consume it. Soap Gnome was quickly resurrected. Our mission – to deliver responsible cleaning – environmentally-friendly soaps made with ingredients from Mother Nature, that can go happily back into Mother Nature. Every aspect of our operation is managed responsibly, from the selection of raw ingredients to the content of our packaging, we offer soap with the happy trifecta: happy soap, happy ingredients, happy planet.
I hope these soaps help bring you cheer!
Christie, founder of Soap Gnome