From soap to deodorant and moisturizers, entrepreneur Sarah Preu believes in the power of sustainability, which is reflected in her line of natural, affordably-priced products through Wild Wash Soap Co. Whether she’s working on a hand salve or a serum, skin is her No. 1 priority.
KCS: What piqued your interest in skincare?
SP: I’ve always been an ingredients nerd. I wanted to make natural products for myself, because I have super sensitive skin. Then I had my son, who has eczema and sensitive skin, and really the best thing for any one of those situations is a lye-based bar. But I’ve been making skincare products since college. I would get the nice, natural version of some product, and I’d use it and see how it worked. If it worked well for me, I’d look at the key ingredients I could get my hands on and figure out how to make an at-home version. Then I started doing plant research, herbal apprenticeships and began learning about the plants in our area.
KCS: How did that transition to owning your own company?
KD: I have an English degree, and I started out as a technical writer. I’ve always been a self-starter, and it would cause problems in the corporate world; I felt like my skillset belonged in an entrepreneurial space. I’d entertained it for years and I had cultivated a list of clients I could take with me, so I could freelance write while I got this off the ground.
KCS: Is it harder to run a business with more makers in the market?
KD: For me, the more people in the pool, the better, because then there’s a product for everyone. What I’ve noticed working in this sector and being a user of these products for over a decade, is there’s a product for everyone if there’s enough diversity in the brands that are out there. You’ve got herbalists doing it, you’ve got aestheticians doing it—you have everybody coming from a different background, and your products are going to reflect that.
KCS: What products do you recommend for new customers?
KD: A really basic skincare regimen is really important—literally just the face bar, the toner and then a very simple moisturizer, nothing with any sort of false thickeners. I think a lot of times what we think is bad skin is actually reactions to synthetic fragrance, shelf stabilizers, thickeners, and preservatives. When you take those out of the mix, you don’t need much at all. I tell people, no judgment; if you want to do a face bar, a toner and a moisturizer and then spend $200 on a serum, have at it. But the everyday stuff should be sustainably priced, sustainable for the earth, and sustainable in terms of time.
With so many soaps and moisturizers available to consumers, it can be hard to determine which ones are more harmful to your body. But with her extensive knowledge of ingredients, Preu knows what drugstore products you should toss first.
“Number one, replace your lotion and replace your body wash,” Preu says. “They’re both drying to your skin.”
Besides containing synthetic fragrances, they’re often designed to make buyers use more, and are essentially less effective, Preu says.
“Lotions are the biggest racket ever, because 90 percent of them have false drying agents,” Preu says.
Instead, Preu recommends a quality lye-based bar to remove dirt and grime that won’t strip your skin of natural oils.