By Jade Solomon
Leda Toussaint is the owner and creator of the all-natural femine wash, GNTLE. After a year of struggling with recurring yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and dealing with products that only made her symptoms worse; Leda decided to combine her background in medical science and passion for women’s reproductive health to help women with sensitive vaginas find a “true cleanse” and long-lasting relief.
Read more as she speaks about the issues that her all-natural feminine wash GNTLE addresses, embarking on a “womb wellness” journey, and five things that every woman should know when it comes to vaginal health.
You’ve spoken candidly about your early struggles with bacterial vaginosis and recurring yeast infections. This struggle led you to embark on a “womb wellness journey.” Can you tell us more about this journey and what it actually did for your body?
This journey was an awakening journey for me. I went from just trying to take care of
one isolated problem to really getting a larger picture of myself. So even though it was a
“womb wellness journey,” it really was a larger journey of self-discovery.
During this time, one of the very first things that I started to do was really take a look at what I was putting into my body. The second thing is that I started to eliminate a lot of things from my diet – so instead of coffee, I started drinking tea. I eliminated eating a lot of cheese, dairy, alcohol, processed sugar – all those things. And then I went into herbal treatments – doing a lot of vaginal steamings, and learning about how the earth can naturally heal the womb. So vaginal steaming became my go-to and it’s still a practice that I do today.
Of course, during this process I needed a natural feminine wash. And in a way, I had to learn how to unlearn some of the things that I was doing that weren’t giving me any results. I had to learn what it really meant to clean my vulva, as well as learn more about it. And here I am at thirty one years old trying to figure this out – it was shameful but it was also a very vulnerable place for me to start to learn for myself, about myself.
Do you feel that a “womb wellness journey” is something all women should embark on, even if they don’t struggle with any vaginal or reproductive issues?
I actually do. One of the main things that I got out of my journey was learning about myself. I think for so long as women, we’re always told about ourselves. It’s not a journey of self-discovery like it is for men. When men are young they’re exploring parts of their body, and we don’t necessarily get the room to do that – and if we try to, we’re told not to. So when you do a womb wellness journey it allows you to start exploring. And in that exploring process, you learn so much about yourself and you become comfortable with yourself. This is how we can begin to dismantle the taboo that surrounds our bodies and our sexual wellness.
I think every woman should embark on that journey and get to know themselves, because that’s where we can also begin breaking down the taboos that exist in our own minds. Yes, society has them but so do we.
Your “womb wellness journey” and background in medical science led to the creation of GNTLE. Why was it so important for this product to be made with clean, natural ingredients? What issues can GNTLE address?
When I was dealing with the recurring yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis, I tried almost all the products on the shelf just trying to find some relief. When I tell you I went to the doctor multiple times and all they did was prescribe me an antibiotic, which I now know actually made it worse – It’s crazy because now I understand it. I now know that certain products get marketed the most to certain demographics. So when I go to my local CVS, the products that are available to me are different from the ones available in a predominantly white neighborhood. We can also talk about the racism in healthcare – when I go to the doctor, why are they not listening to me when I tell them that the medications they’re prescribing me are actually making my symptoms worse? And so I felt like I was being brushed off.
As I embarked on my womb wellness journey and was able to have open, candid conversations with other women, it came up that I needed to find an all natural feminine wash. I started examining all of the products that I had, and I noticed that the very first ingredient would be water, followed by an acid or alcohol. Ingredients that dry you out. All of the natural ingredients would be listed towards the bottom of the label, which means those ingredients would also be the least present.
So my product, GNTLE, is actually aloe-vera based. There’s not even water in it. I also needed an ingredient that would serve as a beautiful lubrication, able to absorb into the skin with antibacterial and antifungal properties – so that’s where I brought in sweet almond oil. The ingredients that I was able to combine together makes GNTLE the best product that I’ve ever used.
It’s important to remember that GNTLE is an external cleanser. Some women hear â€˜feminine wash’ and think it’s synonymous with vaginal wash – being something that women can put inside of them to help with smell but this is not that. It’s an external cleanser of your vulva only. GNTLE helps solve the problem of odor, cleansing, excess dryness, and even excess moisture. I also have a couple of my wellness clients who have dealt with vulva sclerosis, and the aloe-vera in GNTLE actually does a really great job of alleviating their symptoms.
A large part of your journey and GNTLE’s success has been due to your willingness to educate women on our vaginal health. You’ve been able to do so through your Instagram Live segments called “Girl Talk Tuesday” which features conversation about “the holistic woman â€“ the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual woman in all of us.” What are some holistic practices that you incorporate into your life on a daily basis?
First and foremost is nutrition. What I consume on a daily basis will always affect my vagina. What I put in my body affects my gut which in turn affects my reproductive system. I’ve cut out dairy, sweets, and even alcohol. The second change is becoming so much more intentional with my self care. Sometimes we get caught up by images that we see on Pinterest and social media and we think that self care is being in a spa, getting massages, pedicures and manicures; when really self care is an actual journey that you have to take yourself on. It’s finding long term, sustainable relief for yourself to maintain a life that you want to live. It can be setting boundaries, going to therapy, or something as simple as not answering emails after a certain time – just truly setting aside time for yourself. I do a vaginal steam every month and that time is so sacred to me because I don’t have to be anybody in that moment, not Leda the wife, not Leda the business owner. I can just be Leda.
Lastly, what do you think are some important tips that every woman should know when it comes to vaginal health?
First, get to know your body – your vulva and vagina are not the same. Odor doesn’t mean nasty or dirty.
Your vagina is high maintenance. She controls your wallet, she controls what you eat, she controls how you sleep. She’s high maintenance so you have to give her the care that she deserves.
Your normal is your natural. Remember what is normal to you, may not be normal for someone else. Get to know your normal.
Lastly, how can you know what your normal is if you don’t even know what your vagina looks like? Get familiar with your vagina and build a relationship with her the right way.
GNTLE is available for purchase on Amazon, and at www.gntlewash.com.