Most people have read the story about how I started Good Clean Love, after all the personal lubricant choices I had at the time made me sick.I was looking for a product that was natural, like all the other personal care I was accustomed to shopping for - and there weren’t any choices. It took me years of experimenting in my kitchen and finally finding a lab that would think out of the box for me to develop what has become one of the best-selling organic lubes on the market.
I remember the afternoon, sitting in my office wondering how I would keep the operation going (which actually went on for years…) when I was handed a letter from the local chapter of HIV Alliance to whom we had just donated a bunch of lubricant samples. In addition to saying thanks, the writer shared with me what would come to define my understanding of lubricant. Although it took more years to understand and articulate it, it was news that our lubricant had the same osmolality as human tissue.
I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I wasn’t surprised when he said that it closely resembled human secretions. I had already experienced, like many of our customers using Almost Naked lubricant, that it felt like taking 10 years off the clock. The lubricant felt like me, or at least how I used to feel before nursing four kids across 10 years.
A couple of years later, the contents of that letter, about lubricant osmolality, showed up in an NIH-funded study where our lubricant was found to be one of the safest products in the study. Now I was determined to understand this idea of osmolality and why it is so important. This also marked my first real scientific education when it came to my work of formulating lubricants. Prior to this, I just knew I didn’t want any ingredients that I wouldn’t have in my kitchen, and I became versed in the best alternatives for preservative effectiveness. Fortunately I had a lot of teachers helping me to understand these early formulations.
Ironically the study was intended not to study personal lubricants, but instead to invent a buffer gel that would prevent the increasing incidence of HIV and other serious STDs. Although the research project didn’t accomplish this task, gathering data on 5,000 women taught them a lot about the incidence of Bacterial Vaginosis and how this most common genital infection heightened the risks of HIV and STDs. One of the primary researchers, Dr. Cone, was quoted in the study saying that “ … all sexual lubricants should be reformulated…” So, I called him.
Thus began my education and a friendship that is the biggest highlight in my Good Clean Love career. I remember the day I was sitting outside my kids school talking about how I could improve our existing lubricant, finally having a name for my own recurrent episodes of weird odors and itching that continuously came and went in my life. I am a minor statistic on this most common of genital infections - two in five women have BV and 84% of the time they don’t know they have it. It is no wonder “smelly vagina” is one of the most expensive keyword searches you can buy on the web. It was a rainy afternoon, talking to Dr. Cone outside of my daughter’s middle school, when the beautiful idea of bio-matching our personal intimacy products to existing healthy vaginal ecosystem dawned on me.
I have been forging this path of creating products that do no harm, and maybe even nudge our bodies back to their natural, healthy state for years. Science and development happens over long stretches of time. Last year we were awarded a patent on the idea of bio-matched vaginal gels. With any luck, this year we may actually be able to begin a clinical survey to see whether bio-matched products can really help women find their way back to wholeness.
For me, I never leave home without Restore gel, and I am gratified each and every time we hear from one of our customers how this bio-match is the first thing that ever worked for them. I continue to work on the next great bio-match idea and am grateful beyond words for all the ways that Good Clean Love can make it good in the world of sexual wellness.