How Kristen Dunning "Grew" A Skincare Brand

From a battle with eczema to pioneering herbal research at college, Gently Soap is a testament to resilience, innovation, and the power of nature.

The Gently Soap Story
The Gently Soap Story
Dreams Blossom

Gently Soap began with the dream of a girl with eczema who simply refused to settle.

Kristen Dunning was tired of living a life restricted to boring, chemical bath products and decided to use her extensive knowledge of medicinal plants and agricultural heritage to do something about it.
The Gently Soap Story
A Personal Skincare Battle

Kristen Dunning was only four years old when her hair began to fall out in large clumps due to a battle with Seborrheic dermatitis (commonly known as scalp eczema). As if losing hair wasn’t traumatizing enough, the eczema on her arms, legs, and face grew worse. Her skin condition grew severe enough that when retelling the story of her childhood, her family likens her appearance to that of a “baby gator” due to the extreme scaling and peeling of her skin.

Her parents relentlessly struggled to find her relief and were prescribed the most common eczema solution on the market: steroid shots and creams.
The Gently Soap Story
Journey into Herbalism and Natural Remedies

Eczema made using any soap from drugstores and commercial brands extremely difficult and painful. Growing up, Kristen dealt with it all: burning, peeling, itching, breakouts, flare-ups, you name it. Trying everything on the market for eczema and sensitive skin and receiving little to no results, she developed an interest in herbalism and DIY natural remedies.
The Gently Soap Story
The All-Natural Path

Kristen soon fell in love with the world of medicinal plants and botanicals. In 2018, she knew she wanted to further dive into this newfound passion.

As a freshman in college at The University of Georgia, Kristen lived in a research living learning community and pioneered a project to develop a deeper understanding of medicinal plants, their healing properties, and effects on common skin conditions like her own eczema. Falling in love with plant science, she chose her degrees in agricultural communication and horticulture.
The Gently Soap Story
Kristen's Breakthrough Research

With the guidance of her horticultural faculty mentor, Dr. David Knauft, she identified pot marigold (Calendula officinalis L.) and chamomile (from genera Matricaria and Chamaemelum) as botanical alternatives for chemical ingredients in conventional anti-inflammatory medications. At her forever favorite place on campus, the UGArden Student Community Farm, she planted and analyzed different cultivars of calendula and chamomile.
The Gently Soap Story
Cultivating Natural Solutions

In early 2019, the first soap recipe was born. She then spent the rest of the year and all of quarantine expanding her knowledge on eczema, its causes, its aggressors, and irritants. Little by little Kristen filled a binder with herbal soap recipes, ideas, results, and observations. She spent all of her free-time perfecting formulations, testing batches, and discovering ways to increase the environmental integrity and skin safety of her soaps.

It wasn’t until October of 2020, that she mustered up the courage to release her herbal creations with the world.
The Gently Soap Story
A Bath and Body Brand Rooted in Passion and Agriculture

Gently is the product of Kristen’s horticultural studies, personal struggle with her skin, and her passionate imagination. However, the foundation of the brand lies in her family’s heritage and her love for the agricultural industry. The Dunning Family hails from and owns 84 acres in Dixons Mills, Alabama where Kristen’s grandparents - Nancy and Raymond Sr. - made their living as farmers.

When Gently first began, Kristen handcrafted the products with herbs she sourced from UGArden. Now, following suit of her initial brand dream, all products are handcrafted utilizing herbs and botanicals grown by US farmers.

Our Values


Gently Soap products are - and will always be - plastic free.

Bar soaps are considered the most sustainable soap option, with an environmental impact 10 times less than that of plastic bottled liquid soap. Gently Soap bar soaps, in particular, are zero-waste, vegan, palm-oil free, and made with US sourced organic and fair trade ingredients.

Sustainability in all aspects - social, economic, and beyond - is important in building our brand and ensuring a balance in our communities not just for now but for ten, twenty, fifty years from now.

Giving Back

Beginning in 2023, Gently Soap will donate to the David and Evelyn Knauft Fund for the University of Georgia Office of Service-Learning. Dr. David Knauft was our founder Kristen’s horticultural research mentor and still remains an active supporter of the Gently Soap dream.

Gently Soap is also committed to giving back to underserved communities through our LOVE GENTLY initiative that donates misshapen but usable bar soaps annually to local non-profit organizations committed to serving the homeless community and survivors of sexual and domestic violence. 

A few in our community are:

Project Safe
The Cottage
The Sparrow's Nest

Botanical Sourcing

Where you get your herbs from matters immensely in natural product formulation. That is why Gently Soap is committed to sourcing from US growers to ensure safety and customer satisfaction.

Because of our founder’s plant science expertise, our products eliminate the use of essential oils which can be unsafe for use on sensitized skin and not sustainable as producing the tiniest drop of oil requires copious amounts of environmental resources and agricultural labor.


What is your mission? 

Gently Soap was founded in 2020 to offer products to a demographic that often struggles to find solutions within the commercial skincare industry: those with sensitive skin. 

Why is fragrance-free soap better for my sensitive skin? 

Fragrances are complex and can contain multiple synthetic and/or chemical ingredients. Because of the sensitivity of our skin, any one with sensitive skin or common skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, are better off using products that avoid fragrance altogether. 

Why don’t you use essential oils?

Many times, people with sensitive skin also have skin that is allergenic. The concentration of essential oils increases the chances of your skin being irritated or having an adverse reaction. Because of this our founder can never use a skin care product that has essential oils in its ingredient line-up, we figure that she is not alone. 

Do your bar soaps have a scent? 

We get this question a lot and for good reason. Logically without fragrance or essential oils…an aroma would not exist right?

Well, since we infuse our saponified oils with herbs, most of those aromatic, and even beneficial, properties many love still come through in our bar soap! 

Why do you only sell bar soap and not body wash or liquid soap?

We hear you…bar soap is not for everyone. Our founder’s own mother loves a great body wash and asks all the time when her favorite soap may get a liquid companion. Gently is dedicated to sustainability and environmental integrity, a value we stated very early on. We strive to do our part to decrease the prevalence of single-use plastic packaging in the personal care industry. Just give us some time and continue to support us in our growth, we got you.

Want to learn more?

Here at Gently Soap, we are passionate about all things herbal skincare! If you have questions about the brand, our ingredients, or want to learn more about our products, don't hesitate to drop us a line!