What is Hair porosity and why does it matter?

Hair Porosity

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Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to soak up and retain moisture (imagine trying to soak up a puddle of water with a sponge versus a sheet of plastic). Your hair’s porosity is determined by genetics, but can also be affected by external factors such as heat processing and chemical treatments. Knowing your hair’s porosity will help you choose the right products for your hair to keep it healthy, strong, and radiant. Today we’ll talk about the different types of hair porosity, how to determine your hair’s porosity, and what kind of ingredients and products work best for different hair porosities.

Why Porosity Matters

Each strand of hair on your head has an outer layer called a cuticle. Cuticles are made up of overlapping dead cells that form a protective barrier around the strand’s cortex (the inner core of your hair strand that determines your hair’s color). The cuticle’s composition is like the scales on a fish or the bark on a coniferous tree. Porosity refers to how flat and tight those scales are. 

Low Porosity Hair

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Low porosity hair is made up of strands on which the cuticles are composed of tightly bound, flat-laying scales. Low porosity hair is often shiny and repels the penetration of chemicals and moisture. 

Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair has a slightly looser cuticle than low porosity hair, allowing the perfect amount of moisture into the hair strand. Medium hair is easily manageable and holds up to heat and color manipulation. However, overuse of color, heat, and chemical treatments can disrupt and damage the cuticles, which ups the porosity.

High Porosity Hair

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High porosity hair has the loosest cuticle formation, leaving it vulnerable to too much moisture which can lead to breakage and frizz. I imagine the structure of porous strands of hair as fully matured pinecones. The scales of a baby pinecone are pressed flat but fan out as the pinecone matures. Once the scales are splayed, they are prone to catching and tearing. If it rains, the water collects inside of the pinecone instead of running off the outside and overtime the standing water will rot the pinecone’s core. Similarly, high porosity hair retains a higher water percentage than low porosity hair and too much water can cause weakening and elongation of your strands.

How to Test Your Hair’s Porosity

The most popular method of testing your hair’s porosity is by observing how a strand of hair interacts with water (often known as: the float test). To prep for this test, shampoo your hair and let it air-dry. Once your hair is clean and dry take a couple strands and drop them into a cup of water. Watch them for the next 15 minutes. If they float, your hair has a low porosity. If they quickly sink to the bottom your hair has high porosity. If they sink a bit and then hover in the middle your hair has medium porosity. You can always run this test with a few friends to have other hair to compare yours to. Depending on your determined porosity, you can adjust your hair routine to benefit your hair’s health. 

Both of these hairs are from my head! The curlier, coarser strand is from the back and the looser, thinner strand is from the front!

My Results From the Float Test

I was curious as the whether this test really works (you know I love DIYs), so of course I had to try it out. I selected two different strands of my hair from my head because as you’ll see from the photos I took: I have a diverse head of hair. I also used a strand of my mother’s hair because why not? According to the results, my hair is low to medium porosity and my mother’s hair is low porosity. If you’re going to run this test I suggest using a bowl with a wide opening because the hair strands kept clinging to the edge of the glasses with narrow openings.

If You Have Low Porosity Hair

Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar

Product will tend to sit on your hair instead of being absorbed. You’ll need to clarify frequently to control build up. Clay is a great way to do this. Our Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar and White China Silk Shampoo Bar are both made with clay: an excellent natural clarifier. Acidic hair rinses are also extremely helpful for getting rid of build up.

If You have Medium Porosity Hair

You’re really going to want to balance moisture and protein in your hair care routine. Hemp seed oil is perfect because it is an oil that will lock in moisture while also providing protein. I love the Hemp and Honey 2.0 Shampoo Bar for my curly hair.

If You Have High Porosity Hair

Organic Argan Oil

Trap in that moisture with oils. Coconut oil is great for locking in moisture and is a key ingredient in many of our shampoo bars. The Coconut Milk and Citrus Shampoo Bar and Key Lime Shampoo Bar are made with coconut milk, a natural beauty treatment used in many hair and skin products to hydrate and repair skin cells as well as to add shine, silkiness, and softness to hair and skin. Using oils when you style is also essential. Argan oil will lock in additional moisture and promote shine!

What’s you hair’s porosity?

Much Love,

Nora


4 Natural Shampoo Bars Our Customers Love

Reviews Matter

I know school is starting and we’re all very busy, so this week I took the liberty of wading through all our reviews to bring you some of the best bars according to our customers along with what makes them so lovable. I’m also going to give you a crash course on writing reviews so you can leave one on our website that lets everyone else know why your favorite shampoo bar is actually the best.

Why Reviews Matter

I never make a purchase without looking at the reviews first. Why? Have you ever booked a stay in a cute motel room for a surprisingly cheap price and then you get to the motel and step into your room and it looks nothing like the gorgeous photos on the website AND it smells like musty fruit salad? Yeah. That’s why. 

Reviews keeping you from falling victim to the ploys of dishonest online companies. You know what I’m talking about. The companies that show you a picture of a huge area rug, but neglect to mention that it’s actually the size of a placemat.

Online businesses (like those rug scammers) utilize false advertising and make it so much more difficult for all of the honest companies out there that just want to sell amazing products and put smiles on their customer’s faces. Companies like AVNS who aim for transparency in every aspect of their business. Reviews are essential for both the consumer and the producer.

As consumers we’re looking for a product to suit our needs and reviews weed out the scammers and give us insight as to whether the product is the right fit.

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

Pretend you’re looking for a brown hair dye. You’re looking for an ash brown to enhance your natural, cool shade of brown. You find a brown dye in the comments that has tons of glowing reviews, several of which make special note about “loving the warm, chestnut hue” the dye provides. Even though the reviews are positive, you now know the product isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

Reviews are important to companies, too. Even when a company strives for authenticity, they can’t always predict who their product will best suit. We use reviews as feedback for our products to make sure they are doing what we want them to.

Most Likely To

In the soap yearbook I’ve awarded these four soaps the following superlatives based on customer reviews.

Most Likely The Shampoo Bar You’ll Keep On Hand: Wheat and Honey Almond Shampoo Bar

A treasure trove of anti-oxidants from the wheat germ and sweet almond oils are packed in our Wheat and Honey Almond shampoo bar. Nutrient and mineral-rich raw, organic honey will add a lustrous shine to your hair and help keep your skin radiantly youthful and healthy. This shampoo bar is also enriched with unrefined cocoa butter and unrefined shea nut butter for a moisture-drenching, all-over treat. The scent is a sweetened summer honey touched with lemon, lavender, bitter almond, and ginger. Warm and dreamy!

Customers Say

“In an effort to simplify my life and get away from the chemicals used in HBA products, I decided to try all in one shampoo bars. My scalp tends to break out in painful bumps and I have ultra sensitive skin. I really like how my skin and hair felt after using it. My hair is shiny, clean, and it feels thicker, stronger, and healthier. The scent is not overpowering. This will be one of my standard order and keep on hand shampoo bars.”

-Customer Review

“This was one of the several samples that I bought when I first found out about this website. I tried all the samples, but I keep coming back to this one. I love . . . the smell of almonds, how it makes my hair is so soft, and my skin, which tends to be dry, is not dry anymore. So when I need to restock I always buy 2 bars of this soap and 1 bar of something else. Honestly, I could just use this one bar and be absolutely content.”

-Customer Review

“We have tried several shampoo bars over the last six months…we have loved them all! However, this is the one we always keep on hand. It works well with all of our hair types and it smells amazing. Our all around favorite, for sure!”

-Customer Review

Most Likely to Provide Scalp Relief: Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

Even though our Peppermint Tea Tree shampoo bar feels great on scalp and skin, the main benefit of this bar is the health it can help restore to both hair and scalp. Nourishment and restorative properties from the specifically chosen carrier oils plus added healing from the essential oil blend.

Some of the benefits, but not limited to, are with ingredients such as Coconut oil which is a super-oil full of naturally present antioxidants, it is an excellent anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Olive oil which is packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it superb for hair, skin, and nailsJojoba oil is a natural anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, its properties keep the scalp clean and healthy. It can also prevent hair loss and thinning caused by the clogged hair follicles as it dissolves and clears these blockages and promotes the development of new hair cells, which can lead to hair growth. Shea butter strengthens your skin by stimulating the production of collagen, it helps make your skin more supple, more alive, nourished and radiant. We could keep going, but you probably get the idea.

For the essential oils, both peppermint and tea tree essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint adds a cooling effect which can help eliminate the urge to scratch, while tea tree thanks to it’s fantastic anti-fungal properties is great for fighting dandruff. Tea tree oil fights the fungus that causes dandruff without drying out the scalp, it can also serve as a natural conditioner and eliminate problems that lead the scalp to flake.

Customers Say

“I love that this peppermint tea tree soap has helped with my itchy scalp and welts on my scalp. I also use the herbal vinegar hair rinse too it works wonderfully. All the body bars smell fabulous.”

-Customer Review
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

“I have suffered from an angry, oily, sensitive scalp (seborrheic dermatitis) for many years and have long very thick wavy hair. I have tried shampoo soaps from other companies, but they irritated my scalp. Well, last night I tried your peppermint tea tree shampoo bar and guess what? Your shampoo soap did NOT irritate my sensitive scalp or my face! After coming out of the shower, my scalp did NOT start irritating me as it usually does after shampooing. I am now wondering, in the past was I using too harsh shampoo bars from other companies that was making my sensitive scalp worse and drying out my skin? My guess is yes, probably. Well, guess what? Now I’m sticking to just Apple Valley shampoo bars and soaps, which my scalp and hair prefer! This morning (after shampooing last night) my scalp is still clear and not bothering me at all (no itching, redness, or soreness) and my hair is shiny, full of body, and so soft – I can’t stop touching it! Thank you so much Natalie, for this AMAZING shampoo bar! Finally, I found the solution and I’m so thrilled!”

-Customer Review

“I have been using peppermint tea tree shampoo for almost 2 years and love it. My hair is very silky and I don’t get an itchy scalp like I do with other shampoos. And the best part, no bottle to deal with!!”

-Customer Review

Psst. Author Update: Unfortunately, this beautiful bar just went out of stock. If you desperately need a soap that can “scratch that itch” try the Lavender Rosemary Salt Bar (it’s a personal favorite).

Most Likely To Smell Amazing All Day Long: Lavender Buttermilk Shampoo Bar

Buttermilk, a natural pro-biotic full of lactic acid, is found in many beauty products and is fabulous for softening, brightening and exfoliating skin. Lactic acid is also used to treat age spots and freckles and to tighten skin. Olive oil, organic jojoba oil, and mango butter, with their emollient properties, round out this beauty treatment for your hair and body. Lavender has countless benefits for skin and scalp due to its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. It is used to treat skin conditions such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammations. The vanilla adds a warm, creamy sweetness to the lavender essential oil making this a calming, dreamy, unforgettable scent.

Customers Say

“Pleasant smell. It was a surprise to realize I was able to smell it while I was rinsing my hair. And after a long day with a pony tail, my hair still smells. I will repurchase this one.”

-Customer Review

“I’ve used this on my scalp before. I got cancer, had chemo and was bald. Hair is back and so am I. Lavender is very soothing. I’m in heaven with the feel of my scalp and look of my hair! And the smell is lovely and stays in my hair. Hope it’s never discontinued!”

-Customer Review

“I don’t know why, but this bar seems to lather the best out of the several varieties that I’ve tried from AVNS. Its scent also seems to last in my hair, which is awesome! Even after the ACV spritzes, you can still smell lavender. I think this is going to become my go-to bar.”

-Customer Review

Most Likely to Work Wonders For Your Man (And You): Man 2.0 Body, Shaving And Shampoo Bar

Men, now you can have your soap, shampoo, and shaving cream too. Made with organic olive oil, organic shea nut butter, and organic jojoba oil for an ultra gentle, moisturizing treatment, as well as bentonite clay for slip and silk on your face when shaving, this deliciously scented shampoo bar lathers like crazy and will leave you looking, feeling, and smelling like a million bucks in a few short minutes.

Customers Say

“I originally purchased this bar for my husband who travels quite a bit as it saves space as an all-in-one bar. However, once I tried it, I loved it for myself and it’s the only thing I now use to shave my legs. It makes for a phenomenally smooth shave. It may be called Man 2.0, but I love it as much for me!!!!”

-Customer Review

“I finally started using this bar not too long ago. Even though it is designed for men, the smell and the effectiveness of it are the reasons why I’m going to order two more bars. It works well on my hair and while it may take a few seconds to lather on my body, it gets the job done. But my face is the main reason. Since it has clay in it, it makes my face so smooth and toned! This bar is a winner and a 4-in-1 for me, which is perfect in my opinion!”

-Customer Review

“I bought the MAN bar 2.0 for my husband who has very sensitive skin. He absolutely will not use anything else now! His skin is smoother and less reactive. Also, no more dry skin!”

-Customer Review

Help The AVNS Community Out by Writing a Review

A huge shout out to all of the fantastic reviews I used above. If you read this blog and recognize one as your own please let me know in the comments so I can thank you personally. Weren’t the author of one of these awesome reviews, but think you’ve got what it takes? Great! I’m going to list a few key ingredients for writing a perfect, helpful review! I’ve written an example review and I color-coded sections of it to match with the tip it follows.

Example Review For AVNS Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar

Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar

The Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar is one of my top three favorite AVNS shampoo bars. I love the soft, sweet lemonade smell and curl enhancing properties of this bar. I have long, textured hair that ranges from a 2a-3a curl pattern. My hair is medium to low porosity, medium to low density and has a medium strand size. I have not used heat tools for two years. I felt this bar gave both my waves and curls great definition and I had lots of small, tight curl clumps when my hair dried (which is hard for me to achieve). I used this shampoo bar in my summer routine: I lathered the bar on my scalp and then squeezed the suds down the length of my hair. I carefully detangled with a wide-toothed comb while the soap was still in, rinsed with water, and then used an ACV rinse. I scrunched out half the water with a cotton t-shirt and then let my hair air-dry the rest of the way.

Share Your Hair and Skin Type

Different products work differently on different hair/skin types. While some of our products seem to work wonders universally, others have special skills to fit individual needs.

Be Specific and Essential

If You’re a curly girl, tell us what your curl pattern is! What is your hair’s porosity? What is your hair’s density? Do you have mature skin? Is it acne prone? You may think you’re sharing too much, but trust me, this is what the rest of us want to know. We’re asking ourselves: if it worked for you, will it work for me? Just be careful to use details relevant to your results. My hair is brown, but I didn’t include it in my review because the product had no impact on the color of my hair.

Tell Us What You Did Right

Give us a little info about how you used the product, did you follow with a hair rinse? Did you detangle before you washed? Did you follow up with any hair oil? Sometimes incorrect use of a product leads to less-than desired results. If you found the holy grail of styling please, please, please share!

Tell Us What The Product Did Right

Did it give you awesome definition? Super volume? Was it convenient for a schedule that involves a lot of travel? Did your kids love it? Let us know because our kids might love it too!

In Review

Now that you’re professional review writers I look forward to seeing your take on our less reviewed products (especially our new shaving bars!). If you love writing reviews you might even consider writing a general fill-in-the-blank review so you don’t have to re-write the same personal information every time! Have a great rest of your week!

Much Love,

Nora


Boost Your Confidence Naturally With Power Posing?

I Tried Power Posing for Five Minutes Daily to Increase Confidence

Photo by Emmy E on Pexels.com

Is confidence something you’re born with? Or something you can naturally obtain over time with experience? Are there things you can do to boost your confidence quickly? I decided to spend five minutes power posing every day and then keep a daily journal to record any signs of increased confidence. I can say with complete confidence that the results surprised me.

Boost Natural Confidence?

Outer Sources of Confidence 

Natural ways to improve confidence are easier to achieve than you might think. Evaluating the patterns in your life can help you determine ways to boost confidence with only a few mindful adjustments.

Surround Yourself With Supporters

Spending time with people who believe in you can help you to believe in yourself. Be mindful not to rely on others to feed your ego, but learn how to participate in a community focused on the goal of lifting up others.

Essential Oils to Boost Confidence

Essential oils are used as natural remedies to boost confidence. Our noses have a powerful influence on the rest of our bodily systems. Introducing your senses to certain smells in order to influence your body or mind is known as aromatherapy. Specific essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and peppermint have been used to relieve tension, boost self-esteem, and even increase performance ability (have you ever received a peppermint before a big test? I know I have!). Many essential oils and plant products also have topical benefits as well, which is why they are the perfect natural solution for scenting our soaps and other products.

Inner Sources of Confidence

There are tons of natural ways to boost confidence, and most of them start with the way you treat yourself. 

Self-Talk

How you talk to yourself influences your self perception. When your inner monologue is positive and not self-deprecating, your self-esteem increases. For some examples of negative self-talk vs. positive self-talk, check out this educational example!

Body Language

What is Power Posing?

If you’ve ever prepared for a job interview, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “Power Posing” before. Power posing comes from the idea that our body language plays a big role in determining self-perception and if we look powerful, we’ll feel powerful. The initial Power Posing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy became wildly popular after its debut in 2012, but after a replicated study in 2015 failed to produce similar findings power posing was called out as pseudoscience. Despite receiving fervent backlash, Cuddy must have been power posing 24/7 because she refused to give up and confidently continued her research into 2018 until she confirmed without a doubt that power posing is shown to make people feel more confident, even if it doesn’t actually produce a hormonal change. 

Five Days of Power Posing

I kept a little journal for each day that I spent standing like Wonder Woman to record any changes in confidence that might have occurred as well as some overall feelings and observations about the experiment.

Day 1

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Today was my first day “Power Posing!” I decided to use the same pose every day, even though there are many poses to choose from. I chose the Wonder Woman-esque “hands on hips” pose because it seemed the most natural (just in case I ever had to do it in public) and it’s also the pose used on Grey’s Anatomy (Season 11, Episode 14) which is where I first got the inspiration for this blog. I posed in my bathroom so that I could look in the mirror to check that I was doing it right. Wow. Five minutes sure seems like a long time when you aren’t doing anything, I tried to think “powerful thoughts” but I kept getting distracted and I think I checked my timer like a million times. I’m so glad I decided to start this project today because I had an interview and I needed all the confidence I could get. The interview went very well and at one point my interviewer asked me if I was actually good at writing. Normally I’d come up with a tactful reply balancing between humility and positivity, but when he asked me my instant response was a big, confident, “Yes.” WHOA. WHERE DID THAT CONFIDENCE COME FROM?! Does power posing work that well? I guess I’ll have to see and find out!

Day 2

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Power posed in the shower today so that I could let my favorite deep condition do its trick at the same time. I felt pretty low today because my long term boyfriend and best friend leaves for college in three days and I’m going to miss him a ton. I went over to his house to help him pack for school and was just overwhelmed by sadness (and all the packing that needed to get done). I was sitting in his room feeling sorry for myself when this thought popped into my head, “You know, if you work at being productive you might not feel so sad.” Cleaning is never my favorite task and I’d have normally dismissed the thought, but for some reason I felt like I had the inner reserves to push through and get the job done. After five hours and a bunch of sorting and organizing we had gone through his entire room. It was extremely satisfying and I felt like maybe the power posing had helped me feel like I was capable of accomplishing tasks I would normally avoid.

Day 3

I was super busy and didn’t have time to power pose until late afternoon because I spent the morning driving to Wisconsin to get to work on time. I didn’t notice much of a difference throughout the day, although one interesting thing did happen at the end of the day. I was sitting behind the front desk and a couple came in looking for a recommendation for trips down the river. When I started talking to them, I found myself getting out of my chair and standing. Then my hands naturally went to my hips and before I knew it I was discreetly power posing (nervous sweat be gone!)! 

Day 4

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I forgot to power pose at home and had to do it at work today. The workplace can sometimes be stressful and I found I had difficulty holding my pose for the full five minutes. I kept resorting to more anxious body language. The rest of the day went relatively smoothly. I think my main takeaway from today is that maybe power posing offers more than just boosting confidence, maybe it also acts as a gauge to determine how confident you are at any given place or time. Perhaps, if you recognize a place where you don’t feel as confident, your awareness can help you push through the situation.

Day 5

Photo by Cedric Lim Ah Tock on Pexels.com

The last day of power posing started off with really great news! I was offered the position at the place I interviewed! For the rest of the day I felt extremely productive. Over the last five days I’ve found that I’ve been able to initiate action with more ease than I have in the past. I think I’m going to continue power posing every day for two minutes instead of five. Even if its effects are just placebo, power posing gives me a couple minutes to just breathe and be in my own body and I’ve come to appreciate and cherish that time.

I hoped you enjoyed following my five days of power posing. Feel free to replicate the project and reach out with your results! If you’re new to AVNS, welcome! You can join our community newsletter to stay up to date on sales and giveaways and get 10% off on your first purchase!

Much Love & Confidence,

Nora


Ten Foods for Healthy, Glowing skin

If you read last week’s blog you know that a good skincare routine is a must for maintaining a youthful glow, but there’s more to this skincare quest than meets the eye. The needs of healthy skin go beyond skin deep, and if your skin isn’t responding to the best skincare products on the block it might be because you’re missing this crucial step.

Healthy Diet Equals Healthy Skin

Sometimes cause and effect is difficult to identify, especially in the rush of everyday life. It’s tricky to be in tune with your body, but cultivating an awareness of how you eat affects your body is super important. If you still aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about don’t worry. I have an example:

Drink Enough Water

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Water intake may be the most important interaction between you and your body. Water plays a huge role in our health and beauty, water quality can even influence whether you have a good hair day! This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that more than 50% of our bodies are made up of water. According to the CDC, water will

  • Keep your temperature normal
  • Lubricate and cushion joints
  • Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

How do you know you’re drinking enough water? Your body tells you! Not only will the darkness of your urine inform you of potential dehydration, your skin can too. Just perform a simple skin pinch!

Your skin isn’t just impacted by your water intake. Every food you eat plays a role in your skin’s performance. To help take pause and examine this concept more carefully, Let’s illuminate an old phrase in a new light, “Your skin ‘is what you eat.’” 

Ten Best Foods for Your Skin

These ten foods not only taste delicious, they’re also skin superfoods!

1) Fish

Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Pexels.com

According to an article in Healthline, eating fish like salmon may

  • Keep skin thick, supple, and moisturized.
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Help fight inflammatory and autoimmune conditions 
  • Protect your skin against damage from free radicals and inflammation
  • Be a source of high quality protein, which is needed for maintaining the strength and integrity of your skin.

2) Avocado

Avocados are full of heart-healthy fats, but they also do wonders for the skin. Just like natural vinegar rinses add strength and shine to hair, and salt acts as a natural antibacterial agent on skin, avocado does its part to keep your skin smooth and young. According to an article on One Green Planet, avocados are the perfect natural beauty ingredient because they contain,

  • Chlorophyll to reduce inflammation.
  • Water to hydrate.
  • Vitamin E to promote softness and prevent wrinkles.

Do you have color treated hair that needs a little help? Give Avocado a go with our Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar.

3) Carrots

Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

While you may be afraid using our Honey Carrot and Tangerine Face and Body Bar will turn your skin orange, you don’t need to worry about this. The fresh carrot juice in our popular soap won’t change the color of your skin. Carrots won’t change your skin color…unless you eat ten carrots a day for more than fourteen days straight (or if you’re a carrot loving baby as I once was). Unfortunately, I can also attest to the fact that eating carrots here and there will not improve your already imperfect eyesight. On the bright side, carrots may still benefit your skin. According to an article published in Healthline, “If you have a history of skin problems, such as rashes or psoriasis, adding carrot juice to your diet may improve the appearance of your skin. Carrots contain vitamin C, which has healing properties. It helps skin recover faster from external wounds and trauma. Beta-carotene in carrots also reduces skin inflammation, which speeds the healing process.”

4) Sweet Potatoes

Photo by Nastasya Day on Pexels.com

I love sweet potato fries. And now that I know they are full of sweet skin boosters I won’t be holding back. NDTV Food Desk published an excellent article on the skin benefits of sweet potatoes with the following insight as to why these orange taters are so beneficial, “Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin C and Vitamin E, both of which are very crucial to keep skin healthy, glowing and supple. Vitamin C helps boost collagen, which tightens your skin. The antioxidants present in sweet potato are also responsible for a natural sheen. Sweet potatoes are also a rich source of anthocyanins that help prevent blemishes and dark spots by keeping free radical activity in control.” This article also includes tips on the best ways to prepare them for all the benefits!

5) Green Tea

Drinking green tea may help regulate your skin’s oil production as well as combat acne due to a special compound called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). EGCG is  antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-androgenic the last of which, according to an article in NDTV Food Desk, “means that it regulates the production of androgens in the body, which in turn may reduce oil or sebum production on the skin.” We put green tea in our Green Tea and Nettles Shampoo Bar because green tea is full of potent anti-oxidants called catechins. Studies have shown that green tea may help reduce skin cancer, rejuvenate old skin cells, improve psoriasis and dandruff conditions, and neutralize damage done by exposure to UV light.

6) Tomatoes

Photo by Julia on Pexels.com

These zesty red fruits are my favorite. I eat them like apples with just a pinch of salt or sugar. Tomatoes aren’t just delicious, they’re also amazing for your skin!

While you’d be hard pressed to find any scientific evidence for the benefits of topical application, tomatoes are a great dietary supplement for promoting gorgeous skin. According to a Healthline article, tomatoes are full of anti-aging vitamins and can also reduce sensitivity to UV radiation.

7) Olive Oil

We love olive oil because it’s what we use to make our super gentle Castile Soap! Our virgin olive oil is chemical free and retains its vitamin content, the reason behind olive oil’s health benefits (especially vitamin E). Vitamin E protects skin from the damage of free radicals and can help alleviate symptoms of eczema. 

8) Walnuts

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Welcome to the wonderful world of walnuts. The benefits of walnuts are so widespread that they even demand a yearly conference just to cover all the research being done on them! We’re just focusing on benefits for the skin, but if you’d like to learn about the other benefits of walnuts you can dive into the research here. According to registered dietitians quoted in an article published on SELF, “Walnuts offer up healthy Omega-3 fats that strengthen the membranes of your skin cells, locking in moisture and nutrients that keep it plump and glowing and keeping out toxins that can damage skin cells.”

Walnuts also make a great addition to a green, leafy salad and I love eating them with cranberries. 

9) Oranges

Oranges are a natural “skin-builder.” Oranges are full of vitamin C which, according to research published by the Linus Pauling Institute, “regulates the synthesis of the structural protein collagen. The role of vitamin C in the hydroxylation of collagen molecules is well characterized. Hydroxylation of collagen is necessary for its extracellular stability and support of the epidermis.”

10) Dark Chocolate

Save room for dessert because it might just help your skin! Dark chocolate is full of minerals and antioxidants that contribute to skin quality. A Femina article on the benefits of dark chocolate states, “Dark chocolate helps reduce dark spots and pigmentation and keeps skin glowing and healthy. It also works to bring back skin moisture and keeps it locked in, improves collagen content, and boosts circulation, all of which help delay the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” This is all the permission I need to get to snacking…”Hey! It’s for my health!”

I don’t know about you, but after this list of skin-enhancing foods I’m moments away from whipping up a leafy green salad sprinkled with buttery walnuts and flavorful tomatoes, tossed in a citrus vinaigrette and topped with a juicy piece of salmon. YUM.

Much Love,

Nora


3 Important Skincare Tips for Mature Skin

Giving Your Skin What it Needs

Signs of aging are nothing to be ashamed of. 

You are beautiful beyond your physical appearance.

That being said, your skin deserves the best care you can give it and you deserve to feel like you look as amazing as you are…no matter what your age is.

So you shouldn’t be ashamed for wanting to find the perfect make-up routine either.

Behind Every Great Make-up Routine is an Amazing Skincare Routine. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This is especially true for mature skin. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, As we age, “changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity.” For people 50+, a mature skincare routine means paying extra attention to your skin’s needs to prevent dry, dull skin from weighing down your glowing personality. Because I’m just a youngin when it comes to the beauty industry, I reached out to a professional make-up artist who specializes in mature skin to bring you the top three tips on caring for mature skin.

Pssst! Not over the hill yet? Not even over the anthill? You should keep reading, because it is never too early to find the perfect skincare routine and these tips apply to all skin!

Meet Elise Marquam-Jahns

Author at Sixtyandme.com, “Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional makeup artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back. She is the founder of Boomer and Beyond Beauty and recently launched “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” – a makeup and beauty YouTube channel specifically designed for women over 50.”

I spent the week emailing with this sophisticated skincare expert (and watching her informative Youtube videos) to learn as much as I could about how to best care for mature skin. 

3 Skincare Tips for Mature Skin

These three easy steps can be added to any and every skincare routine to help keep your skin luminous and healthy.

Exfoliate

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

While using the right cleanser for your skin has countless benefits, Elise points out that washing your face correctly is also an essential part of an effective skincare routine. In her Youtube video “6 Skincare Musts for Women 50+” Elise recommends using a sonic cleansing brush to wash your face instead of doing it manually because, “it doesn’t thoroughly get rid of everything that’s accumulated on our skin over the day.” Pollution, left-over make-up, and dead skin all contribute to build-up. Exfoliating with a brush removes this build-up and enhances the appearance and feeling of your skin. It also exposes your skin and allows the products you’re applying to be more effective. For example, exfoliating and then applying a toner will allow the ingredients to interact with the brand new skin. Rich in vitamin C our Organic Bulgarian Rose Facial Toner has tons of benefits for mature skin including possible lessening of fine lines and wrinkles over time, read more here. One important note about exfoliating is to not do it too often. Over use of a sonic cleansing brush can lead to raw skin, so finding a frequency your skin can tolerate is important. Exfoliating once every other day is a good starting point!

Moisturize

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

In her video, Elise lists moisturized skin as a priority for mature skin and we couldn’t agree more. Natural Soap is a great way to ensure that your skin is moisturized and cleansed at the same time, we even have a line of facial soap dedicated to dry skin. I wanted to know exactly what kind of ingredients were best for mature skin, so I asked Elise for a list of DOs and DON’Ts for skincare ingredients.

DON’T: Mineral Oil, Aluminum, DEA, MEA or TEA, DMDM Hydantoin and Urea, Parabens (anything with Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl), Phthalates, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, and Triclosan

DO: The most important skin care ingredients for me are Vitamin C + E plus Ferulic Acid (skin brighteners), Coenzyme Q10 and Matrixyl Synthe 6.  

Argan Oil is packed with vitamin E and a great natural moisturizer for both mature skin skin and hair and you can read about why that is here.

Antioxidant Beauty Facial Soap

One of our most pampering bars, the Antioxidant Beauty Facial Soap is packed with natural ingredients including:

Green tea extract for added skin elasticity.

Papaya with vitamin A for new cell reformation.

Guava for its anti-aging B vitamins.

Rosehips for their natural skin brightening retinol and vitamin C components.

Sea buckthorn for its collagen-creating Omega 7 fatty acid.

Yogurt for its pore-tightening lactic acid.

Rhassoul Clay absorbs impurities from hair and skin while leaving it soft and moisturized.

Protection

I have the same visor in two colors. That’s how much I love it.

I grew up believing that sunscreen was only meant for day-long sunshine marathons on the dock. Contrary to popular practice, you can benefit from wearing sunscreen with safe ingredients whenever you go outside. I have sensitive facial skin, so I always, always, always wear my signature giant sun visor. Elise recommends wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreen not only protects against skin cancer, it also preserves the appearance of your skin. According to the Institute of Health, “When UV rays enter skin cells, they upset delicate processes that affect the skin’s growth and appearance. Over time, exposure to these rays can make the skin less elastic. Skin may even become thickened and leathery, wrinkled, or thinned like tissue paper.”

A Word on Haircare

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The condition of our skin affects the condition of our hair too. In an article published in Good Housekeeping, the myth that grey hair is naturally coarser was debunked with this insightful correlation, “While gray hair feels coarse and rough, the structure of the strand hasn’t actually changed. When those melanin-producing cells run out of steam, the hair follicles also produce less sebum (the natural oils that hydrate hair). As a result, gray hair tends to be drier, which gives it that wiry texture.” Knowing that grey hair isn’t inherently difficult means we can do something about it! If you’re tired of touching up your roots now could be your time to embrace your grey! With hashtags like #greyhairdontcare you can find an online community of beautiful women supporting one another as they transition to elegant, icy hues.

I’ll Say it Again

Signs of age are nothing to be ashamed of. They represent the individual experience of life for every person on the planet. Our bodies were built as beautiful, temporary houses for our souls and they do so much for us while we inhabit the Earth. For this we are grateful. I’m personally grateful that I had the chance to catch up with a beauty mentor who also happens to be my amazing grandmother (did the same last name give it away??)! What are you grateful for?

Pictured left to right: my mom, me, my grandmother Elise and my aunt Erin.

Much Love,

Nora


Want to become a Brand Ambassador for Natural Soap? Here’s How.

What is a Brand Ambassador?

A Brand Ambassador represents a company and promotes the company’s products either in person or on-line.

Apple Valley Natural Soap Brand Ambassador/Affiliate Program

We want people to have natural, organic, vegan, cruelty-free, options when it comes to health and beauty products. As a smaller business we do our best to reach people with quality, hand-made natural products, but sometimes we need a little help. The Apple Valley Natural Soap Brand Ambassador/Affiliate program was created so that people who love our products can benefit from sharing them with others via social media (Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs…you get the idea).

Don’t Think You’re Tech Savvy enough to be a Brand Ambassador? Think Again!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay, let me start by saying: I have never been a tech savvy person. When I tell people this they think I’m being dramatic. Then I tell how I failed my computer skills class in eighth grade. The story goes like this:

We were supposed to program a short animation of a cat doing the following: walking across the room, picking up a can of tuna fish, eating the tuna fish, turning green, and barfing.

After five hours of sweating over my keyboard and mouse my cat did this:

Turned green, walked…upside down across the ceiling, barfed (while still upside down), completely ignored the can of tuna, and then disappeared.

People don’t question me after that. 

Steps to Becoming an AVNS Brand Ambassador

I decided that if I could figure out how to become an AVNS Brand Ambassador, you could too. I spent the entire week attempting to learn the ins and outs of being a Brand Ambassador and even if I’m never successful, hopefully I can give you the start you need to become the best AVNS Brand Ambassador EVER.

Step One: Create an Affiliate Account Through Apple Valley Natural Soap

If you’re on the mobile version of our site it will say “Pages”

Once you’re on the AVNS website, click on “More” and then scroll through the drop down menu until you find the “Ambassador/Affiliate Program” tab. 

The Ambassador/Affiliate Page will walk you through the process and benefits and at the bottom of the page you’ll see a button that says “Register.” Click on it.

Here are the basics of becoming a Brand Ambassador

Setting up your account is super easy, as is setting up a Paypal account if you don’t already have one.

Step Two: Set Up a PayPal Account

I’m pretty sure all I had to do was enter my email…

If you know you’re putting all your profits towards more AVNS soap, we have an option for your commission to be in the form of store credit as well!

The trickiest part for me was the actual Brand “Ambassad-ing”

Step Two: Create Promotional Posts

We’ve already supplied you with banners (photos of your fav products) that can be found on your affiliate account. Just download the photo you want to post and then upload it to social media. I love Instagram and Facebook, but I quickly learned that I wasn’t as good at navigating them as I thought. It took me a while to understand that I couldn’t share a click-able link on my Facebook and Instagram stories. The trick is to put your affiliate link (which you can find on your account page) in your bio. And then direct people to your bio.

Aww, look at my cute lil affiliate link!

Not sure what a bio is? That’s okay, you aren’t alone! A bio is a place for you to introduce yourself on social media platforms and is typically under where your name is displayed. A blog is also a great way to share products with others

My First Post

I chose the half-sized bar banner because one of my favorite things about AVNS is the huge selection of unique soaps. I put my affiliate link in my Instagram and Facebook bios so that I could redirect people through my story. My Instagram gives me the option to share the post on Facebook and to that I said YES!

When people purchase through your affiliate link you’ll earn commission starting at 6%!

Why Be a Brand Ambassador for Apple Valley Natural Soap?

Apple Valley Natural Soap is about more than keeping surface-level clean. We design our products to exist in harmony with the environment and with your body. What we put in our earth and on our bodies MATTERS. We strive for a deep clean of mind, body, soul, and earth because we believe it is a noble undertaking. If you believe this, and want to help others achieve a deep clean then you’re already on your way to becoming an AVNS Brand Ambassador (if only we can get this pesky post to upload, am I right?)

Much Love,

Nora


How to Achieve the Perfect DIY Spa Day

In my opinion, there is nothing better than the perfect spa session. 

Correction.

There is nothing better than the perfect DIY spa session. In fact, I’ve perfected the art of the DIY spa so, well, perfectly…that I’ve never felt the need to go to a professional spa.

I love a DIY spa day because you get to pick:

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Who’s Invited

You can make it a fun project for the kids, a surprise gift for a friend or family member, or a romantic occasion with your significant other. 

What’s on the Spa Menu

You get to pick your spa treatments (hot wax treatment…but skip the intense leg massage? You got it!) 

The Products

And you get to use products you already know and love. Annnnnnnnd when you love Apple Valley Natural Soap you also know every ingredient that goes into your favorite soaps, lotions and scrubs.

Okay. So now that I’ve convinced you that a DIY spa day is the way to go, I’m sure you’re wondering where to start.

Don’t worry, we might be about to go all-natural with our products, but I’ve got you covered.

The Importance of Self-Care

Before we get lost in the excitement of sugary body scrubs and scrumptious body butters I want to say this: behind every amazing spa day is a source of meaningful motivation. Planning a spa day is a fantastic way to be intentional about self-care.

What is self-care?

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

This quote on Active Minds, the nation’s top non-profit for support and education on mental health, beautifully sums up what self-care is and why it matters, “Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.”

If this year has thrown some unexpected challenges your way, raise your hands (mine are already up).

If you raised your hand you are a top candidate for self-care, and if you didn’t raise your hand you are too.

Self-Care Spa Day

The number one reason why I love a DIY spa day is because it allows me to transform my daily maintenance tasks from obligations to occasions. If I’m going to clean my body I might as well do it in style and comfort.

Exfoliate with Salt Bars or Body Polish

I love the way my skin feels after I exfoliate. Both salt and sugar make great natural exfoliants and the essential oils added to our salt bars and sugar scrubs are known for their additional health and beauty benefits. 

Salt Bars

A salt bar is a fantastic way to exfoliate and clean at the same time, so it is a great option for DIY pedicures (just scrub, pat dry, and follow with a little argan oil). The Lavender Rosemary Salt Bar is on my top ten AVNS list because it smells amazing, feels amazing, and also works as an amazing shampoo.

Sugar Scrubs

A sugar scrub is my go to for a perfect pre-shave exfoliation because sugar is a natural, gentle exfoliant and the moisturizing oils add an extra layer of protection for my skin when I shave. Our Body Polish is so moisturizing that after using it you may find you don’t even need to apply lotion! It comes in four delicious scents: Citrus Sugar, Matcha Mint, Sweet Vanilla, and Sweet Rosehips (my personal recommendation).

Shave with Coconut Bars

Shaving gets tedious, but with a Virgin Pina Colada nearby it can be wayyyy more enjoyable!

After exfoliating you’ll need to lather up and I’m going to promise you something. Using one of our coconut soap bars as shaving soap will change your life. I had been using shaving cream since I first started shaving and I was super skeptical about using bar soap, but after that first lather…whoa. Coconut Bars lather up so luxuriously, you’ll feel like the King or Queen of shaving.

Massage

While I wish a massage was part of my daily routine, it’s definitely a great way to ease the pain of sore, stiff muscles after a long day of work or play. Our Organic Virgin Jojoba Oil is the perfect massage oil and you can get it CUSTOM MADE with any of our soap scents. If you’re curious about what jojoba oil is you can read more about it here.

DIY Self-Care Massage (feet)

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

As a dancer I spent a lot of my time walking around with sore feet. I wish I had this Youtube tutorial by PsycheTruth on how to give myself a foot-massage back then, but oh well.

DIY Couples Massage

It’s important to make sure you are in a good place before you start lifting those around you and a DIY couples massage may be the perfect way to lift as you rise! Check out Cleverly’s short, simple instructional video for an upper back massage!

Remember to Relax!

You’ve earned the right to relax this year, and we hope our products will help you achieve the pampering you deserve. For more DIYs, follow our blog. I’d love to know how you use our products to unwind after a busy day, so always feel free to comment below!

Much Love,

Nora


Argan Oil Vs Jojoba Oil for Hair and Skin

Why Try Oil for Hair and Skin?

A quick search about the benefits of facial and hair oils will leave you with more questions than answers. Some websites claim that dermatologists recommend oils over any other type of moisturizer, while other websites claim that dermatologists strongly discourage the use of oils. What is true? What isn’t? Today we’ll be sticking to what we know about oil, specifically Argan oil and Jojoba oil and then we’ll do the one thing that no amount of research can do, we’ll decide for ourselves. I wanted to give you the best advice on these two popular cosmetic oils, so I put them to the test and did a half-and-half style session to see which oil will rule them all.

What is Argan Oil?

According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, “Argan (Argania spinosa L.) oil has been used for centuries in Morocco as cosmetic oil to maintain a fair complexion and to cure skin pimples and chicken pox pustules scars.” If you read my last blog, you know I’ve a huge fan of argan oil’s versatility!

Main Components of Argan Oil

Wikipedia

Argan Oil is mainly composed of fatty acids which play a major role in aiding the skin’s natural functions. There are four ways in which fatty acids contribute to the skin’s natural process. Now, if you understand scientific terminology feel free to read the original article here, but if you’re like me and want the basics I’ve broken each function down into more simple jargon below.

Fatty Acid Functions

1) Contributes to skin’s permeability layer which allows skin to lock in water to stay hydrated.
2) Acts as building blocks and support for generation of skin’s natural oils.
3) Helps maintain skin’s homeostasis.
4) Strengthens outer skin’s barrier and acid mantle.

A Note About Linoleic Acid

Photo by Immortal Snapshots on Pexels.com Walnuts are just one of many foods that contain linoleic acid!

“Linoleic Acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and is one of two essential fatty acids for humans, who must obtain it through their diet. It is a colorless or white oil that is virtually insoluble in water. ” (Wikipedia). Linoleic is an essential addition to the human diet to avoid scaly skin. To read more about Linoleic acid and its benefits you can read this study.

Uses of Argan Oil

My wash day hair before and after deep conditioning with Argan Oil
  • Thermal heat protectant for hair: put 2-4 drops in the palm of your hand and massage into damp hair after showering. Your hair will feel silky soft after blow-drying.
  • Deep conditioner: wet hair with hot water, massage a small amount into the scalp and down the shaft of the hair, wrap with a towel, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Wash hair as usual. Alternatively, apply to dry hair before going to bed at night. Wrap in a towel and wash in the morning for soft, silky locks. Argan oil helps with dandruff and other dry scalp symptoms.
  • Makeup remover: put a couple of drops on a cotton ball and and gently remove eye makeup. Leaves the delicate skin around your eyes moisturized.
  • Facial moisturizer: apply a few drops to your delicate facial tissue and around your eyes and watch your skin soak it up and start glowing.
  • Beard oil: bearded people, you know what I’m sayin’, but if your beard needs additional TLC check out our brand new Beard Oil along with our other recently released men’s products!
  • Cuticle and nail repair serum: apply a drop to cuticles and nails at night and say good bye to cut, sore finger tips. Argan oil will strengthen and nourish your nails too.
  • Night hand oil. Two pumps rubbed into your hands before you go to bed leaves them soft and silky in the morning. (Also great for sunburns!)
  • Expectant mothers: apply organic argan oil to your tummy to help prevent and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

What is Jojoba oil?

Jojoba Oil is gleaned from the Jojoba plant which can be found growing in southwestern states. An important thing to note is that, “although jojoba oil is often categorized as an “oil” because of its pale yellow, transparent, liquid appearance, it is actually a liquid wax ester” (NCBI). Before you go dismissing jojoba oil as some melted candle juice, just remember that wax ester is actually used to make the skin soft and that wax treatments are very popular at spas…so does that make jojoba oil like a secret, portable spa treatment? Try Customizable Portable Spa Treatment! We offer Customized Jojoba Oil scented with the same essential oils we use for our scrumptious soaps!

Uses of Jojoba Oil

  • Moisturize hair and skin
  • Massage oil
  • Make-up remover
  • Helps combat athlete’s foot
  • Helps rid the scalp of dandruff
  • stimulates hair growth
  • Aids in combating skin infections

While argan oil and jojoba oil supposedly share many of the same benefits, jojoba oil is known for its similar composition to skin’s natural oil: sebum. Oils are rated on the comedogenic scale on how likely they are to clog pores (zero being rarely and five being like ‘whoa, do not get near my pores’). Argan oil is a zero on the comedogenic scale and even though jojoba oil is a two, it is still widely recommended for oily skin because it is thought that it can trick the skin into producing less sebum. On the other hand, argan oil is known for its ability to combat dry skin. 

One More Oil to Note

Although not a main focus of this blog, I will take a quick moment to mention one additional oil: hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is known for its countless benefits which is why we are proud to carry Hemp Facial Oil. Not sure what hemp entails or curious about CBD? Check out this blog!

Battle of the Oils

So what happened when I tried using a different oil on each half of my body?

After showering I applied both oils to my face, hair, and body. I used Argan oil on my left side and Jojoba on my right side.

Argan Oil Vs Jojoba Oil for Skin

Skin Status: I recently realized during an informal family poll that I’m somewhat of an abnormality when it comes to bathing habits. Obviously I’m going to need to write a blog on this, but for now I’ll say that most of my skin is very balanced. I rarely suffer from over-dry or over-oily skin except on my hands, face, and back.

Hypothesis: I typically apply lotion after showering, but I hate the greasy residue left on my skin (especially when I’m trying to jam my damp legs into jeans during the winter season after that perfect shave…ew). I predicted that applying oil would yield, well, even oilier results…but I was pleasantly surprised.

Results: Both my arms and legs felt soft and moisturized after applying the argan and jojoba oil, without leaving a lot of extra surface oil to make me feel slimy or sticky. I didn’t include photos because my camera isn’t strong enough to detect any differences in my skin quality (I should invest in one of those pore-exposing skin microscopes). If to make any comparison, I would affirm that a little jojoba oil goes a long way and spreads easily, whereas the argan oil was thicker.

Argan Oil vs Jojoba Oil for Face

Skin Status: Ah, my face. As you may already know, I’ve spent a ton of time trying to get rid of my acne. I have large, visible face pores that are extremely prone to clogging and love to produce oil…so I figured my face was the perfect canvas to test out these two “miracle oils.”

Hypothesis: I actually started using these oils before this experiment to make sure my face wouldn’t have an extreme reaction.

Results: I felt as though the argan oil made more a difference in the long run, but had a heavier feel on my face, whereas the jojoba oil was super light. I’ve actually applied argan oil directly to healing acne scars on my face and I personally feel like it has made a huge difference in the healing process. My scabs seem to heal faster and I get to avoid that gross “crusty phase” because my skin stays so moisturized. I think I will continue to use argan oil as a night moisturizer and jojoba oil as a daytime moisturizer.

Argan Oil Vs. Jojoba Oil for Hair

Hair Comparison

Hair Status: I have lonnnnng (overdue for a haircut) wavy to curly hair that I work hard to keep bouncy and beautiful. I am prone to greasy roots and dry ends.

Hypothesis: I was worried that the oils might weigh my hair down. Oil is a controversial subject in the Curly World and is promoted and discouraged by curl influencers. Because the results from the skin tests were so similar, I imagined my hair would probably looks the same, but it didn’t…

Results: I was so surprised by the results after my hair finished air-drying. I even took a picture because you can see the difference in my hair. The left side with the argan oil has great definition and I love how fluffy the wave/curls look. The right side with the jojoba oil seemed to be slightly more defined, but also made my curls look slightly oilier. The biggest surprise was that the argan oil side actually looks LIGHTER? I have no reason as to why this was, maybe I used too much jojoba oil? 

You might hear curly girls rant and rave about the benefits of coconut oil for curly hair, but when I tried adding it (also used wayyyyy too much) to my own hair routine the result was a greasy, nasty, stringy mess. My curls are so sensitive, and usually anything thicker than a sour cream consistency elongates and weighs my curls down (don’t use sour cream in your hair). The lesson here is: different oils work for different hair/skin types. Not sure which to try? Get both and run your own experiment!

Much Love,

Nora


DIY Beautiful Summer Photo Shoot Ideas That Will Let Your Natural Beauty Shine

Does Your Instagram Need a Pick-Me-Up? Try These Easy Photo Shoot Tips and Tricks

Looking to achieve that flawless summer selfie, but not sure where to start? Trying to capture an intimate family moment without stepping out of it? I love a personal and atheistically pleasing Instagram, but maintaining one can be difficult. This blog is written from one amateur photographer to another. I’ll be walking you through some of my top tips (including the famed “hair water flip”) to get some naturally amazing photos with minimal effort (all photos were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge).

This is the blog I’ve been waiting to write, and I could not be more excited about the fact that it features two of my favorite things: my cousin Emme (although we’re basically sisters), and Apple Valley Natural Soap products!

Tip #1: Go For Floral

Girl flower photoshoot

Nothing says “summer’s starting!” like flowers. Not only will flowers fill in a natural pop of color, they’ll also provide effortless natural texture and depth to your photo. Em and I adore this photo and it only took seconds to take. Flowers are a fantastic photo opportunity because there are so many varieties. You can go for warmer shades with flowers that are yellow, orange and red (dandelions, hawkweed, roses). If you’re looking for a cooler photo try blues, purples, and whites (violets, blue lupine, morning glories). The flowers in this picture are lilacs…which smell as great as they look!

I love Em’s modest, but confident pose and the fact that the only make-up she’s wearing is a little bit of Natural Lip Balm for shine makes this photo all the more beautiful! Our lip balm comes in unscented, but I would strongly recommend Vanilla Latte because it is my FAVORITE.

Trick #1 Get Creative With Angles

Flower photoshoot

Spending our summers in rural Wisconsin means we aren’t afraid of a little dirt! Emme was more than willing to get adventurous when I suggested she lie down right in the middle of the flowers…and it definitely paid off! While a little adjusting may be necessary, let yourself be inspired by the natural process of your photoshoot. The way Em’s hair curls around on the left side was accidental, but it turned out to be our favorite part of this photo. While nature exists for our enjoyment, please be mindful of creation. As Em and I like to say, “No plants were harmed in the making of this film!”

Super Secret Extra Tip For Gorgeous Summer Hair!

Caught between brown and blonde, I like to consider my hair tone a natural bronze. That being said, the sun always leaves me a little lighter at the end of summer. Anyone else? Part of me looks forward to the free, natural highlights, but I also worry about sun damage. Moroccan Argan Oil is a great natural thermal heat protectant for hair. Blessed to be a natural blonde, Emme does a great job of maintaining her beautiful blonde hair, and we’ve even got some shampoos like the Restore Shampoo Bar to help!

Tip #2: Try a Silhouette

Sometimes I wake up and I’m just not feeling ready for my close-up. On days like this, a silhouetted photo reminds me that physical beauty does not define me. While we progress towards a more accepting definition of physical beauty, I’m always working to remember that what really makes me beautiful is not what others can see on my body. I love this photo for the romantic experience it encapsulates. The wind, the water, and the feeling.

Unique Silhouette Sunset Photoshoot

Trick #2 How to Take a Selfie That Doesn’t Look Like a Selfie

This water hair-flip is an insta-photo opportunity that’s super simple to accomplish and looks incredible. I love a great picture of myself, but I feel super self-conscious and annoying asking people to take photos of me. That won’t be a problem here! For this photo you’ll need water, a video-recording device with screenshot or video capture features, and yourself.

How Do You Flip Your Hair With Water?

Sunset Water Flip

A water flip is super easy to accomplish. I find a way to prop my phone up near the end of my dock. Then I hit record. Once I get out in front of my camera I submerge my head in water and then toss it backwards. Longer hair will create a more powerful water arc, and shorter hair will create a more even arc because it won’t take as much effort to toss your head back. Well-conditioned hair is recommended. If you have the coordination, throwing your arms back through the water will create additional texture and shape in your image. Try different things! Your camera will record it all! Afterwards I go through the video and pause it on frames I want to keep. You can either screenshot these or use a video capture feature. This is super fun to do with young kids and teens.

Tip #3 Play with Light and Shadow

I love a dramatic look, so it’s no wonder light and shadow come into play when I get an idea for an impromptu photoshoot. Where you are in relation to the sun will determine which features are highlighted. You already know I love a classic silhouette, and getting creative with the sun can add a fun, personal touch to a photo. The two photos below were taken only a minute apart and all I did was adjust my phone for two completely different looks!

Stark sunset photoshoot
Glow sunset photoshoot

Trick #3 The Ultimate Make-Up Hack

While an all-natural look is my go-to, I love experimenting with bright colors. Emme and I call this the “mermaid eye.”

Argan Oil

As you’re about to see, a little argan oil goes a long way. You can enhance any low quality eyeshadow by layering it on top of argan oil. A simple base of argan oil will allow any cheap eyeshadow to stick and it will moisturize the skin below at the same time. I used a little argan oil on Emme’s eyelids and lips and then dabbed the shadow on for intense pigmentation.

Argan Oil…Again!

Natural Argan Oil

Instant natural shine. Just apply a little argan oil wherever you want to catch the light and you’ll shine in all your photos. As you can see, Emme’s cheekbones are radiant.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you in some way to document this beautiful season. I’d love to see any photos inspired by this blog so please please please use the #avns or tag us in your photos and let us know how our products inspire you!

First time visiting AVNS? Follow our blog to stay updated and sign-up for our newsletter to begin your journey to natural beauty!

Much Love,

Nora


New Releases! All-Natural Products For Men

Beard Oil? Shaving Soap Bars? Shea Skin Therapy? Oh My!

What’s the difference between beard soap and regular soap? And what about beard oil? Is that oil pressed from beards? Well, my soap-loving friends, this blog is about answering all of those questions. I’m so excited for what’s about to come (coupon offer??? YES PLEASE) and I hope you are too…so read on!

Having Trouble Finding All Natural Products for Men?

Photo by Suliman Sallehi from Pexels

Make manly maintenance a breeze with our exciting line-up of all natural products made with men in mind. Everyone deserves a quality skin care routine that covers all of your face’s needs from scalp to chin and Apple Valley Natural Soap has got one fresh off the press. Marianne has come up with some amazing products including Shampoo Bars, Shaving Soap Bars, Beard Oil, Skin Therapy Shea Butter and Beard Soap (COMING SOON) all designed with top-notch, all natural moisturizing ingredients. These products are meant to bring your skin to the next level.

Shampoo Bars For Men

Our natural shampoo bars are nothing new, just some classic favorites with rich, invigorating scents.

Man 2.0 Body, Shampoo, and Shaving Bar

Distrustful of 3-in-1 soap? I was too. With this all natural soap bar you won’t have to worry about low quality because this bar truly does it all.

Men, now you can have your soap, shampoo, and shaving cream too. Made with organic olive oil, organic shea nut butter, and organic jojoba oil for an ultra gentle, moisturizing treatment, as well as bentonite clay for slip and silk on your face when shaving, this deliciously scented shampoo bar lathers like crazy and will leave you looking, feeling, and smelling like a million bucks (and we don’t mean a million majestic male deer).

What The Men Say About This Shampoo Bar

As I always say, “when in doubt, check out the reviews.” These reviews are efficient and to the point, just like the men who probably wrote them.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“Consistently good. A staple in my morning routine.”

-Customer Review

“This is a great shampoo bar, it lathers up quickly and does a great job…no plastic bottle. Very economical as the bars last a long time.”

-Customer Review

New Shaving Soap Bars

Shaving Soap for men

Nourishing Shaving Soaps handcrafted with natural and organic ingredients, created to build a luxurious and satisfying lather during a traditional wet shave.

The key to a good shaving soap is a high fat content so skin is protected during the shave, it will also nourish your skin so it doesn’t become dry and irritated. A good shaving soap is economically a great choice as it lasts a long time, and it is a wonderful option for your skin because it adds, not detracts, moisture. Ingredients such as olive oil, shea butter and avocado will do just that, nourish and protect skin during and after the shave. We’ve also added bentonite clay which brings slip to help the razor glide over the skin, and colloidal oats which help protect and soothe.

Classic Shaving Soap

Our Classic Shaving Soap is great for all skin types, but Classic’s blend of essential oils may assist those with oily skin. Cedarwood can help soothe irritation, inflammation, redness, and itchiness. Frankincense has powerful antiseptic and healing properties, bergamot is a natural cleanser so helps remove dirt and impurities and is great for those with oily skin as it helps to unclog pores, it also has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Patchouli helps regenerate skin cells, which assists the healing of wounds and helps fade scars. Litsea cubeba contains antiseptic and astringent properties which makes it an excellent tonic for your skin, it also helps balance sebum levels on the skin surface and controls its production. And coriander (my favorite thing in the entire world) is very soothing, plus has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal properties.

Rugged Shaving Soap

Like our Classic shaving soap, Rugged is great for all skin types, but the blend of essential oils may benefit those with dry skin. Jamarosa oil is an exotic addition which is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Bay is warm and spicy plus offers antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits. Cedarwood can help soothe irritation, inflammation, redness, and itchiness, and ho wood has antiseptic, analgesic, antimicrobial, and soothing properties.

What The Men Say

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

Think you’ve got what it takes to leave a zesty review?

Now is your chance. These brand new products are looking for reviews and if you are among the first 50 people to try either of these natural shaving soaps and leave a review you’ll get a complimentary 10% off coupon for your next order!

Shea Butter Skin Therapy

Intense Nutrition for Skin, Shea Butter Skin Therapy is a super food for your skin! We have chosen only USDA CERTIFIED Organic Raw Unrefined Shea butter, pure and natural organic shea butter is the only one to use in order to reap all the benefits. 

Benefits of Organic Raw Unrefined Shea Butter May Include:

  • helping to relieve dry itchy skin.
  • elimination of greasy scalp and hair issues.
  • balancing skin’s oil production.
  • deeply moisturizing the skin.
  • retaining the elasticity of the skin.
  • may help symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema and dermatitis. 
  • treating skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema, rashes, stretch marks, and burns.
  • diminishing wrinkles.
  • clearing blemishes.
  • healing wounds, scars & skin discolorations. 

Our Shea Butter Skin Therapy is packaged in a 3.5 ounce violet glass jar with a smooth black lid. We have chosen this method of packaging to retain as much natural nutritional benefit of the product for as long as possible. You can read about the benefits of ultraviolet containers here.

Rosemary Mint Shea Skin Therapy

With the addition of 3 specifically chosen organic essential oils, this Rosemary Mint Shea Skin Therapy has a powerhouse of health benefits:

  • Peppermint essential oil has a soothing, cooling effect and is useful for reducing skin irritation and itching and the antibacterial properties present in peppermint oil accelerate wound healing. You can read a more in depth blog about the benefits of Peppermint essential oil here!
  • Spearmint essential oil is not only a restorative, helping to repair the damage done to the body and aid in the recovery from injuries and wounds, it has antibacterial, anti fungal, and antiviral properties which can help get rid of infections. Spearmint essential oil is also an effective insecticide and can be applied to the skin for protection against mosquito bites. 
  • Rosemary essential oil helps heal and soothe eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and rashes due to its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its antibacterial properties that keep skin free from germs and other irritants that further aggravate eczema. 

Lavender Bergamot Shea Skin Therapy

With the addition of 2 specifically chosen organic essential oils, this Shea Skin Therapy is designed to soothe and heal skin.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  •  Lavender essential oil has many health benefits for the skin. Most of these benefits can be attributed to its antiseptic and anti fungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions. It is also commonly used to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissues. 
  • Bergamot essential oil has anti-inflammatoryantibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It has the ability to inhibit the growth of germs, viruses, and fungi. It can also effectively prohibit skin infections and help heal scars and other marks on the skin. It may also make the distribution of pigments and melanin uniform, resulting in the fading away of marks and scars on the skin.

Beard Oil

The moment I know you’ve all been waiting for, what is beard oil? Don’t worry, it is not the oil pressed from beards. 

Our Nourishing Beard Oil contains seven beneficial premium oils as well as four essential oils which target hair growth and conditioning, as well as beard and skin health.  Full of powerful antioxidants to help nourish your beard and facial skin, this oil may:

  • help relieve any irritation of new growth.
  • soften and hydrate dry, brittle facial hair for more control
  • rejuvenate facial skin.
  • be an invaluable tool in tackling dandruff and flakey skin patches.

Nourishing Beard Oil is safe and effective for daily use and is best when applied after showering while hair is damp and soft (You have no idea how many times I had to go back because I accidentally wrote bread instead of beard).

Much Love,

Nora