The Uses and Benefits of CBD

With so many CBD producers on the market, how do you know who to trust? This is a tough question, but one that must be asked and answered. In this blog, we hope to answer this plus many other details about CBD including what it is, and what it can do for the body.

What is CBD and What Does it Do?

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Have you been in a conversation where CBD was mentioned but weren’t sure how to contribute or react because of all the rumors you’ve heard? With so many questions floating around it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

 Is it a drug? 

Can you get high off of it?

 Is it marijuana?

CBD is a new topic increasingly gaining popularity, but it’s very misunderstood. This blog will help you gain a basic understanding of CBD and will allow you to distinguish the rumors from facts and science. By the end of this you’ll know: where it’s from, how it works, what effects it has on the body, and how to determine whether a company’s CBD products are reliable.

First of all, what is CBD and where does it come from? 

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound found naturally in hemp plants. Hemp plants, like marijuana, are both subspecies of the cannabis plant, but are completely different. Marijuana contains CBD and THC, typically 15-20% of THC. THC is psychoactive and gives people a “high,” and is still illegal in the United States. Whereas Hemp plants contain CBD and THC that is less than .03% (which does not get people high). This fact and the medical benefits from CBD prompted the FDA to pass the 2018 Farm Bill making it legal in the United States which gave the ability for companies to produce products with CBD in it.

What does CBD do once it’s in the body? 

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In the bloodstream, cannabinoids work with a series of receptors in your body known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in a lot of important jobs, including regulating your anti-inflammatory response, immune system, appetite, mood, anxiety levels, sleep schedule and more. Endocannabinoids and their receptors exist throughout the body, from the brain to the connective tissue and immune cells. The cannabinoid system’s role changes depending on its location, but is always acting for one goal: homeostasis, also known as the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

What are the effects of CBD? 

There are different methods of using CBD which affect the body differently. There is CBD oil and CBD topical creams and lotions.

CBD Oil

CBD oil goes straight into the bloodstream when taken internally. Many people utilize CBD oil by placing it under the tongue because it bypasses the stomach and enters into the bloodstream more effectively. Here are some of the benefits from taking CBD Oil internally:

* Increases the concentration of cannabinoids in your body leading to a more efficient and effective endocannabinoid system.

* As a powerful antioxidant, CBD protects the body from free radicals and protects or slows cell damage.

* Supports the skin’s natural healing process.

* May help reduce anxiety.

* May help reduce inflammation.

* May help relieve pain.

* May ease the discomfort of headaches.

* May enhance relaxation.

* Has calming and therapeutic benefits.

* Could reduce anxiety and depression.

* Could benefit heart health.

Topically

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The most effective way for targeting specific areas on the body for aches and pains is applying CBD topically, which can be in the form of an oil, balm or lotion. Here are some of the benefits:

* Has calming and therapeutic benefits.

* May help relieve pain.

* May ease the discomfort of headaches.

* May enhance relaxation.

* Treats acne due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and ability to calm skin and reduce sebum production (see our Hemp Facial Oil).

* Supports the skin’s natural healing process.

* CBD is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects the skin from free radicals.

* CBD supports skin cell growth.

* One of the less-known benefits for skin is that it can help prevent and reduce varicose veins. This is because it has blood thinning properties, due to its high omega fatty acid content that helps prevent build up of blood on top of the valve. This build-up is what causes the veins to appear like they are bulging.

What are the side effects of CBD? 

With everything we take, there are always potential side effects, but side effects for CBD are minimal. Some of the side effects could include dry mouth, low blood sugar (if taking a huge intake of CBD), drowsiness, and reduction of Hepatic Drug Digestion.

With so many CBD producers on the market, how do you know who to trust?

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Be cautious when buying CBD products from different companies because it’s essential that these products are made correctly. Always look up new companies to make sure they are reliable and provide details about their CBD products. See if they have any lab test results and more information about where the products are formulated.

Our CBD salve, tincture and balm are produced for Apple Valley Natural Soap by a facility which rigorously evaluates every stage of the process. From soil to oil, the process is standardized and controlled to produce highly rated and effective products. The Hemp used in our products is organically grown and every batch is tested for potency and purity, plus our website provides current third-party lab test results. These results also show that our Hemp oil tincture is THC-free. Our products also use a whole-plant extract which not only includes CBD but many of the other phytocannabinoids, creating the synergistic effect of all the compounds working together.

So how does the topic of CBD affect me?

CBD is a huge topic and is still being medically tested, but it has helped improve many people’s lives and is changing the medical system. Now that you have a basic understanding of what CBD is and what it can do to the body, you can assess to see if you could benefit from CBD products.


What is Fragrance?

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Scent is an extremely important and powerful sense. Not only can your sniffer pick up one trillion distinct scents, it can also smell emotion. Our ability to smell affects our wellbeing and our inability to smell is an indication that something in the body is off (recent studies show our noses may even be helpful in determining if we could be showing signs of COVID-19)! Knowing this, it is essential (oils) that we know how what we’re sniffing impacts us. After reading this you’ll be an expert on everything that goes into your stellar smeller. 

What is Fragrance?

The FDA defines Fragrance as a blend of chemicals that gives a product its distinct smell. Ingredients used can be procured from natural and synthetic materials resulting in a customized recipe that is then listed on a product simply as “Fragrance.”

What is in Fragrance?

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It depends. There are three main means through which a fragrance can be achieved. Essential Oils, Synthetic Fragrance, and Natural Fragrance. We sold some of our essential oil soaps for over four years under the impression that the pre-mixed blends we were using in a few of our bars were pure essential oil blends.  Since that time it was discovered that those blends contained pure essential oils AND a small percentage of phthalate-free fragrance oil to boost the natural scent. We had to decide whether to discontinue those bars and disappoint many of our regular customers, or to continue carrying them and give people the choices they wanted. We made the decision to carry the bars, and let our customers make their own choices in this regard.

All of our scented varieties of soap contain 2% essential oils—to add scent as well as therapeutic value—and 98% other ingredients (oils, water, clays, milks, etc.).  The few soaps that contain the uncertified blends ALSO have therapeutic grade essential oils in them. We did a lot of experimenting because we wanted to make our scents totally unique.  The fact that these soaps contain a mix of the blends in question PLUS our own essential oil additions also drives any percentage of any fragrance oil down even further (less than .5-1% of the entire batch). 

What are the different types of Fragrance?

Essential Oils

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Essential oils are made up of plant compounds that have been distilled and combined with a carrier oil. Essential oils are a pure and concentrated form of fragrance that are believed to possess many different health benefits when introduced to the body through inhalation and topical application. 

Three Top Essential Oils

Peppermint

In addition to its festive smell, peppermint essential oil is used for its super “cool” benefits. Our Peppermint Patchouli Pumice Body Bar is the perfect option for skin that needs rejuvenation.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree oil is thought to have antibacterial and anti fungal properties and is commonly used in the treatment of acne. We recommend the Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo Bar as the perfect solution for a scalp that needs some TLC.

Lavender

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Lavender is easily my favorite essential oil and AVNS loves it, too. When I was a little girl my mom would add a drop in the bathtub right before bed. Lavender is used to relieve stress and is a perfect natural way to aid sleep. Baths are hard to come by when you’re always pressed for time, but hopping in the shower with a bar of Lavender Silk creates the perfect ten minute stay-cation experience for otherwise busy mornings. 

Natural Fragrance 

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Natural fragrances are plant-based aromatics which are produced using pure essential oils and aromatic isolates derived solely from natural, raw botanical sources. All of these natural fragrances are certified to be free of synthetic ingredients. The benefit of natural fragrance differs from pure essential oils in that it is used mainly for scent quality rather than therapeutic benefit. We have started introducing a natural plant based fragrance alternative to some of our soaps which once had the essential oil & phthalate free fragrance blend. This is ONLY happening to soaps and products where finding a scent match with essential oils is not possible. Our desire would be to only use essential oils as they give benefit to the hair and skin as well as scent, but when this is not possible, we have chosen to use natural plant based fragrances.

Synthetic Fragrance

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Synthetic fragrance is a blend of lab created chemicals combined to achieve an imitation of a scent or in many cases, a totally unique scent. While synthetic fragrance may be helpful in enhancing nuances in natural scents, there are some concerns about some of the chemicals present in many synthetic fragrances, especially phthalates. Phthalates are found in cosmetics, but they are also used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic . Research has shown that when absorbed in the body, Phthalates may lead to issues in fertility and neurodevelopment. We make sure that any fragrance we use that is NOT an essential oil or a natural fragrance is phthalate-free.

AVNS wants you to know exactly what we put in our products, which is why we list our ingredients under each product. Our essential oils are therapeutic grade because we want you to benefit from every ingredient on our list. Whether the benefits are physical or simply sensory enjoyment, we hope our products improve your quality of life.

Much Love,

Nora


Benefits of Cosmetic Clay

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re minding your own business on a Saturday afternoon when a tiny swamp monster flings open your front door and charges into your house, leaving behind a trail of muddy, clumpy footprints. You start to scream, but as the tiny swamp monster sprints past you you hear it say…

“Hey Mom!”

You realize it’s not a tiny swamp monster, it’s actually your eight year old daughter.

And instead of listening to you when you try to explain why mud is bad and why tracking mud into the house is harmful rather than helpful she decides to use her childish curiosity to stick it to you and says, “If mud is bad then how come you rub it all over your face before bed? And how come we use it to make mugs in art class? And how come when I visited Apple Valley Natural Soap’s website to pick out a Mother’s Day present for you I saw that they use clay in their soaps?”

Okay…

So maybe this hasn’t happened to you, but here’s the question:

If it did happen to you, would you be prepared with an answer?

Don’t worry, after reading this you will be!

What is Clay?

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Clay is made up of specific mineral particles that are extremely fine. On a chemical level, clay’s dense sheet-like structure of tightly bonded elements creates a compact structure that also retains water.

Mud and dirt may contain the same components as clay, but they can also contain varying quantities of silt, soil and sand. Clay’s compact structure prevents it from becoming a habitat for microorganisms and creates a smooth, even texture. This refined quality is what identifies clay as the optimal sediment for cosmetic use. 

What is Cosmetic Clay?

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Cosmetic clay is clay that is used in health and beauty products. Different types of clay have different benefits, so selecting the right kind of clay for your skin is important.

Cosmetic Clays in AVNS Soap

Rhassoul Clay

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Rhassoul Clay, mined from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, has been used for over 1400 years as a soap, shampoo, and skin conditioner. It contains a high percentage of silica, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, and its extraordinary ability to absorb oil and impurities from both the skin and hair makes it more effective than other clays for cleansing and conditioning…perfect for faces that need the epitome of pampering. We’ve also discovered that this clay has a super sidekick…avocado. We want you to be able to get clean, silky hair without having to attempt your own mushy, DIY avocado mask, so we did all the work for you and created the Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar.

Kaolin Clay

Kaolin Clay is the purest and gentlest of all the clays. White Kaolin clay is used to make porcelain, but in the cosmetic world it’s not limited to porcelain skin. Kaolin clay’s negative charge allows it to draw out toxins that other clays can’t. We combined the gentlest clay with the gentlest fiber, silk, for a truly gentle and effective cleanse.

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Managing skin that is sensitive and prone to oil can be frustrating, but mixing white kaolin clay with red kaolin clay creates the perfect balance of delicacy and absorption. Our solution is two beautifully colored bars made with pink kaolin clay. For citrus lovers: the Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar. For floral enthusiasts: the Bella Rose Shampoo Bar.

Australian Red Reef Clay

This clay is packed with iron and minerals that improves the skin and gives it a healthy glow. We recommend our Rose Geranium Salt Bar for the benefits of additional exfoliation from our top notch European Spa Salt!

Bentonite Clay

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The strong absorption power of bentonite clay makes it fantastic for acne prone skin because it pulls out the dirt and sebum that can build up on your face. The fine quality of this clay also makes for a fantastic shave for every bona fide beard-growing face out there, so make sure you get your Man 2.0 Body, Shampoo, and Shaving Bar in time for Father’s Day (it’s like three gifts in one)!

Now you’re fully equipped to answer all of your hypothetical daughter’s questions, or anyone who needs the help of a clay expert. You also have the perfect Mother’s Day Wishlist!


Earth Day every day: why every ecotourist needs natural soap

Do you ever feel like you’re just one of the crowd?

A crowd of 7.8 billion people?

I do.

In fact:

In 2015 I was just one of the 58.5 million people who visited New York City. 

In 2016 I was just one of the 20.4 million people who visited Orlando’s Magic Kingdom.

But…

In 2018 I was one of just 275,817 people who visited The Galapagos Islands.

And that’s where I learned the truth.

Like many of you, I first encountered the Galapagos Islands in my seventh grade biology class. The few glossy pictures available in our giant textbooks focused mostly on the finches (who, much like the dinosaurs, have attained an almost mythological status in the minds of lay biologists). Cloaked in mystery by their isolation, the fauna and flora of the islands are mainly known for their legendary encounter with Charles Darwin, but to the people who live on the islands today they mean so much more.

The animals inhabiting the Galapagos are so protected that they aren’t afraid of humans. This adorable sea lion was having a peaceful snooze amidst the crowd of people on the dock.

I visited the Galapagos as a student enrolled in Bethel University’s 2018 Ecology in the Tropics interim trip. My time spent in Ecuador and the Galapagos was a rare chance to explore one of the world’s most preserved natural histories, but more importantly, a chance to live as an ecotourist.

What is ecotourism?

Oxford’s Lexico defines ecotourism as “tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.”

What does ecotourism look like?

Your impact on the environment

How you travel impacts the earth. When you travel mindfully by conserving energy and limiting waste you protect the environment. We’ve crafted our products to help you with your mission.

Eco-lodges

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You gotta love hearing the sound of the lock click when you slide your room key into the security slot of your hotel room door for the first time after check-in. Tell me if this is relatable or not, but I have the tradition of checking the bathroom out first thing to gauge the cuteness of the tiny complimentary toiletries (you can imagine how obsessed I am with Apple Valley Natural Soap’s Sample Bars). 

Besides the soap, the first thing that usually catches my eye is the printed card that entreats me to reuse my towels to cut down on water waste.

Does this mean that the hotel is an eco-hotel?

Not exactly.

While it’s fantastic that chain hotels are cultivating practices that preserve the earth, when you stay at a true eco-hotel you find more than a place to stay; you find an immersion experience.

What does staying at an authentic ecolodge look like?

(According to my personal experience staying at the Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve and Mandari Panga.)

Built around community, surrounded by nature

In the cloud forest I’d wake up to clear skies and by evening the lodge would be completely engulfed in a giant cloud.

Whether sleeping up in the clouds or literally right above the amazon river, from morning to dusk, our tour guides helped us learn everything about the environments we were submerged in, allowing us to establish a greater connection with the land.

Ecolodges aren’t only set up for tourists. The places we stayed were created not only to provide jobs for locals, but also as an opportunity to educate locals about the importance of their environment. 

Ecolodges don’t stop with tourists and locals, they also encourage the merging of these two communities. We ate locally sourced and prepared food. Played soccer with the staff and near-by neighborhoods, and were also encouraged to join in the singing and dancing.

Re-aligning your lifestyle with nature

While using a compost toilet and brushing my teeth in the dark were certainly challenges, there was something sacred about learning to live by the rules of a force greater than myself. 

Nazca Booby

Because there was no electricity, lights went out when it got dark…and although we were provided with candles, I preferred falling asleep with the sun (plus the tents that did opt for candlelight became the hotspot for every insect in a one mile radius..haha, dodged that moth).

Showering and laundry with natural soap

I grew accustomed to cold-rainwater showers (it was so humid in the rainforest that temperature wasn’t a big deal). Yes, the space was small and a little spidery, but the views were worth it and I got the benefit of soft water. 

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan on Pexels.com

Yes! Before rain-water sinks into the ground it is usually soft!

Traveling with one of our shampoo bars makes you a model ecotourist. Because they’re solid, our shampoo bars make it possible for you to save space and avoid checked luggage. 

Of course, you’ve also avoided the problem of slippery soap by bringing along one of our Natural Cotton Soap Bags. This bag not only stores your soap, it also acts as a washcloth that can be brought right into the shower with you. It’s made of natural cotton, so it is eco-friendly and easy to grip! 

Psst. If you’re dealing with hard water you can always bring a little baking soda with you…

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Sometimes finding the resources to keep your clothes clean while on an epic expedition can be even more challenging than keeping yourself clean.

I was forced to do a lot of sink laundry during my three months in Europe last fall and I always felt guilty wondering what kinds of chemicals I was releasing down the drain.

AVNS bars are extremely versatile, you can even use them to wash your clothes! Marianne recommends using our coconut bars because they have one main ingredient, coconut. But in a pinch any of our shampoo bars and many of our Body bars can also be used to effectively hand wash clothes. You can run hot water over the soap to create a basin of soapy water for dipping clothes into. For extra suds power you can also wet the clothing and then apply the bar directly. Once the area is coated with soap you can massage it in and rinse. Because our soap is biodegradable, you choose a much better option for the environment than harsh detergents.

Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

The truth is…

You may feel like one of the crowd, and many times you will be. 

But you’re the one who makes a change and that makes you one in a million.

I bet you were wondering why I’d talk about travel during a time when travel has been restricted.

It doesn’t matter where you are, because you can be an ecotourist anywhere you go.

Even if you’re stuck at home.

Turning off the water while you brush your teeth saves up to four gallons of water.

Growing a garden reduces your carbon footprint.

Utilizing natural light conserves electricity.

Using our natural soap keeps you, and the earth healthier.

It doesn’t matter if you are one of one million or the only person in the house. When you make earth day every day, you make a difference.


Puppy Love for Natural Dog Shampoo Bar

WARNING: THIS BLOG INCLUDES ADORABLE PICTURES OF DOGS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

When I was a little girl my biggest dream was to have a dog of my own.

I drew pictures of dogs, wrote stories about dogs, and owned two well-worn dog breed encyclopedias that I would spend hours paging through for fun. My obsession has since become a healthy passion, but I can still list off fifty dog breeds in under two minutes and thirty seconds.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the company of some of the kindest, gentlest dogs I have ever known. My dad’s Vizsla Hank (looking shiny as a penny in the photo to the right) and I grew up together. Hank tolerated all of my toddler teasing and by the time I was twelve he had far outgrown me in dog years and was my faithful friend. He would follow me everywhere, limbs stiff with age. His velvety brow would wrinkle with concentration and he would cock his head when I spoke to him as if he were trying to understand me.

We also have several English Setters, who are basically giant drool babies with excellent noses and a penchant for snuggles (see the picture of my brother and his dog Lily on he left for proof).

With their stellar sniffers, English Setters are soft-mouthed dogs that are bred and trained to be fantastic hunting dogs. A soft mouthed dog is more inclined to retrieve without clamping down on prey and in order to keep this desired trait intact, I was not allowed to play fetch or tug-of-war with our Setters.

Having family dogs was not enough for me, I wanted a dog of my own. So in seventh grade I decided to take matters into my own hands and convinced my mom to take me to the Golden Valley Humane Society with the popular fate-sealer: “We’ll just pet them.”

Nico was about six months when we brought him home.

We did pet them…we also brought one home…

I quickly learned that Nico was not the noble, obedient dog I was accustomed to, but I actually love him more because of his deviant nature. Here are some of his most laudable qualities:

Nico has an adorable habit of scratching at my door when he wants to spend time with me, but the fact that he refuses to come when called is even more adorable. When I call Nico, he stands at a safe distance and just looks at me — not like he’s confused — like he’s still deciding whether or not he wants to come. I find it incredibly charming.

Nico is also a real crowd pleaser, a people-dog if you will. When Nico meets people for the first time, he puts them at ease by doing a stellar impression of a barking, growling land piranha (although he is all bark and no bite).

This is a candid of Nico making my favorite doggy-grin before he was able to go into “Alien Mode.” Nico has many nicknames including: Panini, Sneeps, Ni-ni, and Neepo. What silly nicknames do you call your dog?

Nico is remarkably adroit when it comes to non-verbal communication (although he is also an eloquent barker and can rhapsodize through high-pitched yips and grumbles about the neighbor dog’s presence in our yard for hours). Nico’s favorite pastime is trying to convince people that he is not a dog, but an uncomfortable alien who hates being touched.

My mom recently introduced Nico to her co-workers through a conference call. Recognizing that this was his time to shine, Nico held nothing back. His ears went flat against his head, his legs went taxidermy stiff, his lip stretched thin, and his eyes bulged like giant marbles. Alien dog achieved.

He makes me so proud…

Except for one thing…

I can’t stand the stink.

Nico loves stink. He loves stink so much that he wants to be stink. Nico rolls in the stinkiest things he can find and I often bury my face in his fur only to be unpleasantly surprised by a giant whiff of the dead fish bouquet radiating from his coat. Now that we’re dipping into spring, Nico finds many fragrant opportunities that are thawing and decomposing. When this happens, I pull out my secret weapon: a single word that sends Nico running for under the bed: BATHTIME!

I have to wash my hair every other day, but I have friends who only need to wash once a week. Dogs are the same way and so are other pets. According to AKC, your dog’s coat type typically determines how often they need to be bathed.

Huskies have insulated coats and over-washing will strip their fur of important natural oils. On the other hand–sorry–paw, Chinese Crested have very delicate skin and actually need to be bathed weekly.

As a rule of claw, most breeds need a bath once a month. Dogs get dirty, so dog shampoo can be packed with some pretty heavy duty ingredients and over washing your dog can lead to dry skin…which is the last thing you want for your pooch or any other pet.

Our dog Toby (Tri-color English Setter) when he was a puppy.

This poses a problem if your dog likes mud or stink. You shouldn’t keep your dog clean inside at the expense of them not getting proper exercise…so what do you do?

I used Lavender Silk. First on my own hair, and then on Nico’s. Let me tell you, we both smelled awesome.

Yes, some of our bars can be used for pets!

Because natural soap is more moisturizing, our soap can act as a monthly cleanse, but is also safe to use as a midweek emergency touch-up. While our Jojoba Silk Conditioning shampoo bar, Hemp & Honey bar, Lavender Silk bar, and Simply Shea bar can all be used on you and your pet, our Natural Pet Shampoo bar is designed specially for pets.

This bar is packed with pet-approved ingredients. When it comes to pets, lather is essential, you want physical proof that the soap is coating every inch of fur and lather helps a little go a long way. We used castor oil to achieve a fluffy lather that is effective in repelling dirt and fleas. We also added olive oil and coconut oil–oils that are known to moisturize, revitalize, and “antibacterial-ize.” The two components I’m most excited about are the essential oil blend and the colloidal oats.

Because my family has hunting dogs, they pick up a ton of ticks when they work in the fields and woods, additionally, the sheer number of dogs that we own makes flea infestations a huge potential problem. Essential Oils of Lemongrass, frankincense & cedarwood have been shown to repel fleas and ticks…and we put that blend right in the bar!

Burt working in the field.

Colloidal Oats are basically finely grounded oats. Oatmeal is a fantastic agent for soothing skin. When I was much younger my family had an English Setter who suffered from terrible dry patches and we could only bathe him with oatmeal shampoo. I also suffered from an extreme reaction to poison ivy as a child–it was miserable–and oatmeal baths were a huge factor in alleviating my symptoms.

This bar has everything you need to maintain your pet’s coat, but the best part is that it may help restore health to both skin and coat. As with our human shampoo bars, this bar needs soft water to work its magic.

During this time of physical distancing, our pets are there for us. This is the perfect time to reconnect with your adorable animal and get your kids involved! Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Rodents: if you own a hamster ball, you can train your hamster or other speedy rodent to race. Find a hallway. Put your rodent at one end and yourself at the other. Then have a simple chant (I used to do this with my “prizewinning” hamster Scooby, and I’d say “Go Scooby, Go!”). When your rodent reaches you, reward them with a treat. Eventually they’ll be tearing down the racetrack (you can line up some stuffed animal spectators on the sides for support)!

Cats: cats are mysterious creatures with minds of their own, but they seem to like feathers…

Dogs: I love playing hide and seek with Nico. I get some really fantastic snacks (let the dog know that you have these snacks), then put him in a room with a door that — if left slightly ajar — he will be able to scratch open on his own (if there is more than one human player they can take turns hiding and staying with the pet).

Since Nico and I play one-on-one, I tell him to stay and then I hide somewhere super easy (behind a chair or corner) then I yell, “Nico! Come find me!” When he finds me I instantly reward him with a snack. As the dog gets more used to the game you can find more tricky hiding places (behind a curtain, under a blanket). I love hiding somewhere where I can watch Nico look for me. He will often check all the original hiding places and will jump up on couches to get a higher vantage point (which for some reason is hysterically cute).

Horses: While nothing beats a trail ride, you can always take some time to brush your fore-locked friend as well. There is nothing more satisfying than detangling a mane!

Last but not least, every pet deserves the spotlight! Get creative and give your pet a well-earned photo shoot. Let them show their playful side with their favorite toy, or…if they are very patient, you could even try a costume or two (just make sure there are a lot of treats involved and don’t make your dog do something they don’t want to). There are so many ways to get creative! You can involve your kids, make it a contest, explore your phone’s editing options…no matter what you do, have fun!

We’d love to see your pets, so feel free to use #avnspet if you post any photos on Instagram or Facebook! If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, check out some of the results from Nico’s photoshoot below!


Faith in Quarantine

When you’re a child the world seems bigger.

The family retriever was the size of a horse, chapter books were intimidating, and twenty minute car rides took hours: which is why the three hour drive to my grandparent’s house in Wisconsin seemed to me like an all day affair. The trek was worth it though. I’d spend all week counting down the days until my parents packed up the car, strapped me into my car seat and backed out of the small driveway connected to our modest townhouse in Plymouth, Minnesota. At this time I was the only grandchild, and spending the weekend at Nana and Papa’s meant I got twice the attention. I’d wake up to pancakes and fall asleep to Nana’s stellar impression of Grandfather Frog as she read aloud to me from her old copies of Thornton Burgess stories.

Their cabin was surrounded by forest and sat on the top of a steep decline that led right to the lake. I spent hours outside, shaking off suburbia as I scampered down the damp stone staircase and straight into the sparkling lake. I built forts out of sticks, filled old mason jars with “perfume” made with water and crushed up flowers, and mixed together my own homemade exfoliant*. Sheltered by the shade of the leafy green trees made me feel safe and secure as I played contentedly on the forest floor, surrounded by God’s sacred beauty.

I tell you this because I’m guessing you have a special place of your own. It doesn’t even have to be nature. It could be curled up in your favorite chair in the corner of your favorite coffee shop, or standing, swaying with your eyes shut in front of the stage as the stirring strumming of a guitar pulls at your heart. You can understand how a special place is invaluable, which is why — when my dad came down with a cold the night before we were supposed to leave for the cabin…putting our morning departure in jeopardy — I immediately prayed to God. I wish this touching moment of a child praying for her sick father was without ulterior motive, but embarrassingly I was actually praying for his recovery so that we could still go to the cabin.

Yes, my childish selfishness mortifies me to this day.

Regardless of my prayer’s shady intentions, when I awoke the next morning to sounds of my parents packing I was overjoyed. 

Lying on my back in bed, I remember a feeling of immense gratitude. Overwhelmed, I did what any thankful child does. I stretched out my tiny arms as far as I could manage and circled them around the air in front of me, drawing an invisible God into the biggest bear-hug I could muster.

Let me get something straight: this is not the story of God answering the prayer of a simple and slightly selfish child (what kind of backwards moral would that portray?) No. This is a story of child-like faith. To me, it’s a beautiful image that brings me back to a time when trusting in God was the simple and easy solution and not the last-resort, risky task.

The older I get, the harder it is to trust God. Being an adult seems to imply the continued practice of taking on more and more responsibilities with each passing year. It’s no wonder that in a culture that encourages self-sustainment we struggle to allow room for God to act.

Especially now in this time of quarantine we find our worlds growing smaller than ever and our burdens greater. We find ourselves restricted from visiting the places that are most near and dear to our hearts. And those whose jobs require them to continue to brave the outside world face dangerous risks every time they leave the house. As we navigate this new and confined lifestyle we ask ourselves how there could possibly be room for God when we feel like there’s barely room for us. 

Having faith can seem tiring. Even when we try to listen to God in this time of chaos, it isn’t always clear that he’s there or listening to us. Is that God telling me to give myself bangs? Or is it my own stir-crazed gut?

As a shy child I grew up dependent on Joshua 1:9. Every time I showed up friendless to summer camp or tried something new I relied on the heartening command to “be strong and courageous.” I was always comforted by the thought that no matter how big the journey seemed, God was always along for the ride.

In her riveting year long memoir “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” Rachel Held Evans spends a month practicing aspects of biblical domesticity. Her reflection at the end of the month stuck with me as I read the rest of the book for class and is as follows,

“Somewhere between the chicken soup and the butter-bleeding pie, I’d made peace with the God of pots and pans — not because God wanted me to meet him in the kitchen, but because He wanted to meet me everywhere, in all things, big or small. Knowing that God both inhabits and transcends our daily vocations, no matter how glorious or mundane, should be enough to unite all women of faith…”

-Rachel Held Evans

Although the domesticity Held Evans refers to has more to do with an exploration of a woman’s traditional role in the household, I find that the general idea of “home life” is extremely relevant and her wisdom is widely applicable. God will be with you, wherever you go. Whether it’s at the hospital you work at, the aisle of the grocery store you’re stocking, or sitting at your kitchen table filming online lectures for your students…God will meet you there and he will make room even when you can’t.

*I know you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on some of my homemade exfoliant. Unfortunately, mixing sand and water is not FDA approved (nor is it that great of an exfoliant). On the bright side, AVNS has some incredible exfoliating bars that are also fantastically sanitary! Try our Grapefruit Peppermint Luffa Body Bar, it’s packed with authentic dried luffa fiber. You can also check out any of our Salt Bars! Only Jesus can wash away your sins (but at least we can help with the dirt and dead skin)!


The Importance of Clean Hands — AVNS’s Response to the Coronavirus

First and foremost we want to assure you that we are taking this outbreak seriously and want to do all we can to ensure AVNS products continue to be a blessing for our customers. To this end, as an extra layer of protection until the Covid-19 has passed, employees will be required to wear gloves at all times when working with any products including packaging orders for shipment. Masks will also be used where necessary. When you order our products, rest assured that we are taking all necessary steps to keep producing nourishing and effective products which are safe and beneficial.

Because I attend a small university and live on campus as a full time student, I am rarely required to venture out into the world. This doesn’t mean I’m a hermit. I love exploring the city and could thrift all day if you let me, but these trips are luxuries, not necessities. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, my peers and I have all watched — through phones and computers — the domino effect of other universities transferring to online courses…and the email we received announcing that our spring break was being extended by a week was met with mixed feelings.

The jokesters of the world have been keeping us updated through social media. They capitalize on and exaggerate the public’s frantic scrounge for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, oftentimes forcing us to crack a grin despite our deeper rooted fears. Yet, as I arrived home last night on the first day of spring break I was met at the door by my younger brother’s adorable, mile-a-minute chatter and my mother’s instant command to go to the sink and wash my hands. Today at my local dollar store I heard an elderly man ask the cashier if they happened to have any hand sanitizer, to which she answered, “No, sorry.” (if only he would’ve been able to read this blog, he could’ve had access to a homemade recipe!)

All joking aside, there is nothing wrong with being aware and prepared when it comes to your physical health and safety. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) has released a plethora of helpful information on the virus, including preventative measures. Their top two steps are keeping your hands clean and avoiding close contact with others.

Keeping your hands clean?

We can help with that!

AVNS utilizes many natural ingredients that have antibacterial properties. The salt content in our Salt Bars make any of them great choices for the kitchen or bathroom counter — especially the Salt and Spice Kitchen Bar — because salt is anti-viral, antifungal and antibacterial (if you want to know more about why this is, you can check out my blog on Salt Bars!).

Why is it so important to wash your hands with soap? The composition of most viruses includes a lipid bilayer that holds all the other components inside. In his recent article in The Guardian, Dr. Thordarson, published chemistry professor, explains, “Soap contains fat-like substances known as amphiphiles, some of which are structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane.” When these two similar substances compete, the stronger soap molecules dissolve the lipid bilayer and leave the virus inactive. Soap is advantageous over other disinfecting agents because the way it lathers offers full coverage on a more effective scale. While mass produced soaps are often labeled as antibacterial, the harsh chemicals and detergents used for cleansing may quickly lead to dry, raw skin — especially if you are washing your hands more frequently — and could leave skin more exposed and vulnerable to germs. Our natural soaps contain natural glycerin, a byproduct of natural oils that cleans and moisturizes skin.

That being said, we have a selection of soaps that were specially crafted with ingredients — specifically essential oils — researched for their antiviral properties. Our Thieves Soap Body Bar is inspired by a blend of ingredients used to protect against illness since the 1400s. This blend contains essential oils of cinnamon, lemon, organic eucalyptus and organic rosemary — all shown to have antiviral benefits. We added Dead Sea Clay to the recipe to provide an extra boost of purification and fortification for your skin! Our Charcoal Detox Face and Body Bar is made with refining activated charcoal and a spicy, sweet blend of antiviral essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, lemon and eucalyptus.

You can protect your skin morning to night with an appropriate soap that fits the hour. Feeling a little sleepy before your morning shower? Feel refreshed with the Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo bar. This shampoo bar leaves your scalp and skin restored and and invigorated with its blend of anti-viral/antibacterial tea tree and peppermint essential oil. 

Getting ready to doze off? For a gentle and effective cleanse, try the Lavender Chamomile Face and Body Bar. With its soothing aroma, this bar is a simple blend including title roles Lavender and Chamomile, both plants studied in the medicinal world for their preventative qualities.

Why stop with soap? AVNS also makes a number of delicious smelling beeswax candles. Beeswax is a fuel which produces negative ions when burned. These negative ions negate the positive charge of air contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and allergens like dust and pollen, and the neutralized ions are sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground where they can be swept or vacuumed.

While we wish soap bars were even more transportable than they already are, we know that sometimes it might not be the most convenient option for when you’re on the go. Hand Sanitizer is a hot commodity right now, but if you haven’t had the chance to stock up we’ve got a homemade and customizable recipe for you!

HOMEMADE SANITIZER RECIPE FOR HANDS AND SURFACES

*Makes one cup

You’ll need:

  • 7 oz of alcohol (at least 70% alcohol by volume).
  • 1 oz aloe
  • 20 or more drops of essential oils (recommendations below).
  • 1 tsp glycerin

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients.
  2. Shake concoction well.
  3. Pour into container.

Additional Notes:

  • The final ratio using this recipe keeps the alcohol between 55-60% which is good for killing bacteria and viruses. If you get much lower than this and are relying on the alcohol alone to kill germs, the effectiveness drops significantly. As we are adding small amounts of other ingredients, you can choose up to 90% alcohol by volume. But, if using greater than 90%, even though this may kill some bacteria and viruses, it requires a longer contact time to be effective (hours vs seconds) and allows for organisms to lie dormant without being killed. We suggest Vodka (try to get 120-150 proof which contains 60-70% alcohol by volume). Rubbing alcohol at 70% can be used if necessary, but as Isopropyl alcohol is rubbing alcohol’s main ingredient please be aware that it is controversial as some consider it toxic and harmful to the skin.
  • You can use aloe gel or aloe water.
  • Recommended Essential oils with antiviral/antibacterial properties include: clove, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon, tea tree, pine, peppermint and lavender. 
  • If depending on alcohol alone to kill germs it should be at 60% of the final product, but as we are adding essential oils which have their own antimicrobial properties, the sanitizer may be just as effective with the alcohol being at a lower rate. Essential oils are shown to have their own amazing abilities with or without alcohol.
  • If making this for surfaces, you can leave out the aloe and glycerin as they are added to help moisturize the skin.

Now that we’ve established multiple ways to clean your hands, we’ve got to figure out how to keep them clean and occupied. Humans are face touchers, and in the face of illness this becomes a problem. Our faces are full of orifices (ears, nostrils, eyes and mouth) exposed to unwelcome microorganisms and particles. (By the way, we have two natural lip balms which contain anti-viral fighting essential oils to help those lips fight germs, Peppermint and Lanolin Intensive Lip Therapy!) Our hands are the vehicles that spread germs from the objects they’re in contact with, to our most vulnerable surface area. Cash is a great example of something we touch and can be fearful of, here’s a great article which talks about why consumers should be cautious when handling cash, but not fearful. we need is to keep our hands busy, and with the unfortunate demise of our social lives, we may find ourselves with extra time on our hands (pun soooo intended). When I mentioned earlier that I was at the dollar store, I was actually stocking up on DIY craft supplies.

While you’ve already got a recipe to whip up a fresh batch of homemade hand sanitizer…you can also make a fabulous floral wreath in time Easter!

FLORAL WREATH

You’ll need:

– Artificial flowers (you can get them cheap at the dollar store or repurpose any you might already have!)

– A foam wreath (can be found at the dollar store).

Directions:

  1. Pick out what types of flowers you want on your wreath. I tried to stick with three main colors and found a variety of sizes. I ended up with seven small bouquets, each had about five flowers. You can estimate how many flowers you need by laying them around the foam wreath. 
  2. Cut off the flower heads, but leave about an inch of stem to stick into the wreath. I chose to include the leaves in mine to keep it more full, but you can always remove them.
  3. Stick the flowers into the foam. I did one type of flower at a time, so that I could monitor that I was keeping them equidistant as well as alternating their location on the wreath (inside, outside, center).
  4.  When you are satisfied with how it looks, you can use a bit of ribbon to hang it up!

You can se my completed wreath below! We’d love to see how yours turned out, feel free to post your finished wreath with #applevalleynaturalsoapfloralwreath on Instagram or Facebook!


How My Acne Made Me Beautiful: The Natural Way to Help Cure Acne

I let acne define my beauty

As a teenager I spent a lot of time reassuring myself that when I was in my twenties I’d finally be beautiful. I’m not exactly sure how this hopeful and destructive mantra worked its way into my head, but I’m guessing it had something to do with my belief that acne problems disappeared when you became an adult. When I decided I wanted to write a blog about acne I wanted to include photo evidence of my own acne battle, as proof of the struggle that was most definitely real.

Taken on a camping trip in Ely circa 2015. Where are your favorite camping spots?

So for you, dear Reader, I made the long and arduous trek through my Facebook photos: a timeline of my most awkward and embarrassing years documented by photos posted with careless enthusiasm by a younger me.

I scanned every photo of myself, searching for the tell-tale traces of a bumpy forehead or a crusty, make-up coved chin spot…and came up empty. As expected, the girl on my Facebook is a total goofball (see grainy photo on the left), but unexpectedly, she’s virtually acne-free. How??

I tried to hide my acne


I grew up under a lens. At least, that’s how it felt. Facebook, Selfies, Snapchat, and Instagram are only a few examples of the visual and digital world that consumed my adolescence.

So how do you face this world when you feel like the face you have isn’t good enough? You put forth a face that isn’t yours.

So we cake on the make-up, we angle our cameras to adjust the parts of us that we don’t like, or we digitally make them disappear.

Hiding your acne won’t make it go away

I realized I didn’t need to find proof of my acne because it’s currently all over my face! And the only reason I don’t have pictures that prove I have acne is because I avoid taking them. (Although, I did find one. Please feel free to zoom in on the picture below so you can see the giant spot on the bottom right of my chin).

Taken in Bayeux, France in fall 2019.

Yes, that’s right. I’m almost twenty-two and I still struggle with acne.

And do you want to know something else?

That’s perfectly normal.

It’s okay to have acne

I am not abnormal for having acne, and neither are you. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, “For many women, acne can persist for decades, with flares common a week before menstruation.”

Decades.

While this information is comforting in its unifying nature, it still won’t cure the actual acne.

Getting rid of acne

Acne, pimples, zits — like adorable puppies — come in many shapes and sizes, grow rapidly, and typically in batches. Puppies are pretty great, but if you had to walk around with five of them hanging off of your face and biting you, you’d probably change your mind pretty quickly.

Now, if all the puppies on your face happened to be labrador retrievers, you could probably get rid of them by throwing a stick. However, oftentimes we find ourselves with a variety of puppy breeds on our faces so even if you get rid of the labradors you still have four terriers gnawing your chin. This isn’t an easy problem to solve, in fact, I spent about half my life trying to figure it out.

I’ve tried just about everything to get rid of acne over the span of ten years. When I saw a dermatologist as a teenager I was given a harsh face wash and a salve that smelled like rotten eggs. I eventually tried a three step acne kit that cleared my face somewhat and bleached all of my towels.

When I got tired of smelling like a floor-cleaning solution factory, I gave up and tried water-only rinsing my face twice a day which worked until it didn’t. At this point, I became desperate and went into a chaotic DIY phase. I made homemade face scrubs from anything I could find in my kitchen (would not recommend) and once I even covered my face with peanut butter (would really not recommend). I disliked the thought of switching back to something with harsh chemicals, but I felt like I didn’t have other options.

A natural solution for acne

It didn’t matter if I had one tiny pimple or a huge acne flare-up. I realized that the problem had less to do with whether I had acne or not and more to do with how I let my appearance dictate my sense of worth and value.

A few months ago I tried a sample of the  Honey Carrot and Tangerine Face and Body Bar. When I woke up, the painful cyst on my chin was barely there so I continued to use it for the rest of the week. During that week I had the clearest, most beautiful skin I’ve ever had (included proof in the picture below). This bar smells like glowing memories: a warm, happy deja vu…and can be used with any skin type.

Besides minimizing my acne, I felt like the Honey Carrot Bar also brightened my complexion and lightened my darker acne scars.

I was so thrilled with the results that I ordered the next biggest size along with a sample Acne Battle Bar, because my skin tends to get oily and I wanted a cleanser that would tackle everything from whiteheads to cysts. The Acne Battle Bar is packed with antibacterial, moisturizing and exfoliating ingredients like grapeseed oil and oatmeal…and the reviews glow as much as I want my skin to. Of course, I didn’t want my roommate to be jealous when all my fantastic soap arrived wrapped neatly in Tiffany blue tissue paper, so I had to order a sample Calendula Castile Bar for our bathroom counter, perfect for my roommate’s eczema (and also for my sensitive skin!). 

Because Apple Valley Natural soap is made with natural ingredients, it doesn’t cleanse with harsh chemicals and detergents that dry out your skin. Instead, our soap contains natural glycerin, a byproduct of natural oils and fats. Glycerin works as a humectant and draws water into the skin while also strengthening it. Studies have shown that Glycerin hydrates and improves the skin’s ability to defend against harmful agents, allowing it to act as a natural and effective cleanser.

I went to art class right after picking my package up and decided to have an impromptu photo shoot with my soap and my art supplies.

These bars are working wonders and I love using a small pump of Organic Moroccan Argan oil for an extra moisturizing boost.

If you suffer from dry skin, the Antioxidant Beauty Facial Soap Bar is packed with vitamins that will pamper and brighten your skin. Regardless of your skin type, you should try to keep your skin hydrated and clean. I do this by trying to drink at least six glasses of water a day and changing my pillowcase every week. 

You define your own beauty

My acne is hormonal, which means that sometimes the only real way to get rid of it is time. My acne makes me beautiful because it reminds me that I am more than my appearance. I love, love, love using Apple Valley Natural Soap to wash my face. Even when there’s nothing I can do about my acne, washing my face makes me feel beautiful because it smells SO amazing and feels soooo dreamy.

As I scrutinized pictures of myself for flaws I could expose for the purpose of this blog, I continually caught myself on this heartbreaking thought: “She’s so beautiful, and she didn’t know it.” I still criticize my appearance all of the time, when I should be appreciating the beauty I already have. I celebrate my younger self for her beauty: her beautiful intellect, her beautiful humor, her beautiful thoughtfulness. God made everyone with natural beauty, inside and out. We hope that our products will encourage your natural outer beauty, so that your inner beauty can shine.


The Lowdown on Deodorant: Why We Choose Natural Ingredients

Misconceptions about deodorant

When I broke my leg in eighth grade while downhill skiing I was perplexed. I had been wearing my deodorant the entire time, yet there I was with a spiral fracture in my right tibia.

24 hour protection. Pshhh, yeah right!

While it may have been my eighth grade error of misinterpreting exactly what type of protection my deodorant was offering, there is certainly a valid reason for the disillusionment caused by that bold, 24 hour protection claim. Many ingredients in household name deodorants have been under speculation for causing more damage to our bodies than protection. Chemicals such as phthalates and parabens are capable of disrupting hormone balances in the body and exposure to these chemicals has been linked to breast cancer. The worst part is, this isn’t the first time deodorant ads have been deceiving.

The rise of deodorant and women’s sports

Up until deodorant was invented in the late 1800s, natural, healthy body odor wasn’t considered a problem, but the deodorant company aided it in becoming one. Advertisements claimed that the reason behind a woman’s popularity with men was dependent on how she smelled.

Interestingly enough, if you look at the history of women’s participation in athletic activity, the late 1800’s also saw a rise in the formation of women’s informal athletic clubs (The Sport Journal). So while false advertising was inappropriately preying on women’s self esteem, the increased need for deodorant may have been completely relevant for our great-great-great-great-grandmothers who were movin’ and groovin’.

For a long time, women were discouraged from physical activity. In Aristotle’s time, it was believed that every human had a limited amount of energy and if women engaged in too much intellectual stimulation or physical exertion they wouldn’t have enough energy left for child-bearing (National Woman’s History Museum). Obviously, Aristotle didn’t know that if you have enough strength to birth a child and then spend the next five years raising it you’ve probably got quite a bit of moxie.

Women today

Yes, this is me! I wish I was still this flexible!

Women in the late 1800s and early 1900s enjoyed tennis, bowling, and archery. Women today still enjoy these sports, along with other sports like soccer, football, and hockey. According to an article in The Sport Journal, “College women’s athletic participation has increased from 15% in 1972 to 43% in 2001. High school girl’s athletic participation increased from 295,000 in 1971 to 2.8 million in 2002-2003, an increase of over 840%.”

I was a dancer up until I started college and I wore deodorant, not because I was afraid of being rejected at the school dance, but because I didn’t want sweat or stink getting in the way of my hard work. Sports aren’t the only activity that work up a sweat, many jobs require manual labor, as well as household chores (maneuvering a vacuum around takes muscle!). Regardless of the form, physical activity not only benefits the body, it benefits the mind.

Our goal at Apple Valley Natural Soap

We want you to embrace your right to move, which is why we’ve created a Natural Deodorant Creme that is safe and effective. I know it can sound a bit intimidating. I’m used to the idea that my armpits are a force that only a complex formula of hard-core chemicals can tame, but if you look at the chemicals in common deodorant versus the ingredients we use, you’ll see that nature has the upper-hand.

Apple Valley Natural Soap takes the field with an all-star team of sweat and odor-eliminating ingredients

Natural odor-eliminating ingredients on offense

Virgin Coconut Oil — Contains lauric acid — a fatty acid that makes up 50% of coconut oil and demolishes bacteria with its antimicrobial properties.

Aluminum-Free Baking Soda — Sweat is odorless, but bacteria breaks it down into acidic waste causing it to take on an odor. Baking Soda’s Basic pH tampers with the acidity, eliminating the odor and being basically AWESOME.

Natural sweat-eliminating ingredients on defense

Diatomaceous Earth — The fossilized remains of very small aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made up of natural silica, which has absorption properties. This versatile player works to absorb sweat and also dries up bacteria.

Arrowroot Powder — Another absorption agent, and totally gluten free!

Kaolin Clay — A gentle clay that won’t dry out sensitive skin. Removes toxins and lets skin breathe.

Our natural Deodorant Creme comes scented (with essential oils picked especially for the additional boost of their antimicrobial properties) as well as unscented. Now, get out there and move!

Much Love,

Nora


Beauty and Health Benefits of Salt for Your Skin

I challenge you to a friendly contest.

Get a pencil and set your timer for thirty seconds.

Now, on the countdown of three start your timer and write down all the uses of salt that you can think of!

Okay?

Three.

Two.

One.

Go!

Time’s up!

Hopefully you were able to think of a few things. I’ll share my list at the bottom and you can see how yours compares to mine. However, before you scroll down there to competitively evaluate who came up with more answers…I think both of us deserve a freebie (like the Free Space in BINGO) for all of our hard work.

Free Space: Salt Soap Bars

Why put salt in soap?

I know you’re probably wondering if salt is used to flavor soap like it’s used to flavor food (and let me tell you, some of the AVNS soaps do look good enough to eat!). However, that’s not the reason salt bars exist.

The salt in salt bars simultaneously serves as an exfoliant and a natural antibacterial agent. When the larger grains come into contact with your skin they remove the dead skin cells that have accumulated and allow clogged pores to breathe. 

While the AVNS Lime Spa Salt Bar is a great way to prepare for a flawless shave, our Pink Himalayan Salt Bar provides the perfect grit for combating calloused hands and feet. When new skin is exposed, the salt also cleanses it from bacteria (and if you’re ready to relive your high school biology days hang in there and I’ll explain how).

Salt as a natural antibacterial agent

The salt creates a hypertonic solution (meaning it will attract water through osmosis). Because bacteria is mostly composed of water — just like the human body — when it comes into contact with salt, the salt will leech water from the bacteria, leaving it to shrivel and die. 

I took this photo off the quaint coast of the Cinque Terre in Italy during my study abroad trip to Europe this past fall, where are your favorite oceanside travel destinations?

Keeping harmful bacteria off of your skin is important, but many artificial chemicals used in antibacterial soaps have been banned because they were not shown to have any health benefits and in some cases there has been evidence suggesting some chemicals may have dangerous effects

Antibacterial hand sanitizers often contain alcohol that strips the skin of bacteria, but because it is such a harsh substance it makes your skin dry. Salt bars are a natural solution that will fight bacteria, but will also replenish your skin and body with much needed minerals. The European Spa Salt used by Apple Valley Natural Soap is solar evaporated and comes from the pristine waters of the Mediterranean sea.

Apple Valley Natural Soap’s stunning salt bars

AVNS has a striking lineup of beautiful salt bars, I’m actually going to leave a link right here so you can just go look at all of them side by side because the gentle color palate and rich texture of the salt is soooooo aesthetically pleasing. It’s like looking at artisanal blocks of artist’s chalk…except instead of drawing on the sidewalk you get to lather your body! The dove grey Orange Anise Salt Bar is hands(washing)down the most gorgeous bar of soap I’ve ever seen and Marianne recommends pairing it with a white or black soap placemat as a modern finishing touch (just beware that this stylish touch could make people mistake your bathroom for a high-end art gallery!). The best part is — these bars aren’t just for looks! You won’t even need to scratch your head in wonder when I tell you that the glowing white Lavender Rosemary Salt Bar doesn’t just look great on a placemat, it also acts as a Shampoo Bar that relieves itchy scalps.

I guess I ended up with more than one freebie because we’ve now covered salt as: an antibacterial, an exfoliant, and a source of skin-nourishing minerals…but hey, one salt bar will cover all those things, so I guess it’s three freebies in one!

Without further ado: Nora’s 30 second Salt List

  1. Melts snow on roads and sidewalks
  2. Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp
  3. Salt Blocks for horses
  4. Flavors food
  5. Repels leeches
  6. Helps your hair curl?