3 Amazing DIY Face Masks

3 Do-it-yourself face mask ideas for glowing, hydrated, smooth skin

We’ve all been working so hard to mask-up everywhere we go that I thought we’d take a week to celebrate the coming of spring and give our skin a break with a different kind of face mask. Finding face masks that actually work can be difficult, but these face mask ideas use natural ingredients that will be gentle and non-irritating on skin. These masks are meant to hydrate tired skin, clear your complexion, and may even help with acne! They are easy to make with simple ingredients! It’s a spa in your own house!

Avocado Honey Face Mask

Avocados are a superfood for your skin and body. They have beneficial fats, protein, and vitamins that will help restore your skin’s suppleness by strengthening, protecting, and rejuvenating the tissue. Honey is an added hydrating bonus!

Ingredients:

1 ride avocado

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions

  1. Peel and mash the avocado
  2. Mix avocado, honey, and lemon juice in a bowl
  3. Apply to face and let sit for 30 minutes
  4. Rinse off gently with warm water

For a bonus, you can always halve this recipe when all three ingredients have been combined and use half on your face and half as a hair mask!

Banana and Yogurt Face Mask

Is this a face mask or a breakfast parfait?! I’d totally recommend this face mask for breakfast if there wasn’t one key additional ingredient involved…apple cider vinegar! Banana is a hydrating agent for your skin, while the lactic acid in greek yogurt will brighten and smooth skin by way of exfoliation. The apple cider vinegar is a natural cleanser and additional toner that may even help fight acne!

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Ingredients

1 unripe banana

6 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt

2 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Peels and mash the banana
  2. Mix banana, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar
  3. Apply to face and let sit for 10 minutes
  4. Rinse off gently with warm water

Again, I made this recipe large enough for you to halve it and use half on your hair and half on your face. These ingredients make for a great clarifying and hydrating hair mask!

Charcoal and Aloe Face Mask

This last mask might require some ingredients that aren’t typically  already in your cupboard, but once you own these ingredients you can do so much with them! I’m including this mask because the ingredients it uses make up a powerhouse to help combat acne!  This mask came from Hello Glow, which says, “Charcoal absorbs excess oil, while aloe is soothing and anti-inflammatory, making it an ideal ingredient to add to any acne mask.” Tea tree essential oil is known for its antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Ingredients

1 tablespoon activated charcoal

1 tablespoon aloe vera gel

1 drop of tea tree essential oil

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and use your finger to mix together before applying to the skin. 
  2. Apply the charcoal mask in circular motions around your face for 1 minute.
  3. Let the mask sit for 10–15 minutes. 
  4. Rinse thoroughly and gently with warm water.

Do You Have Face Masks That Work For You?

What I love most about face masks is that there are endless combinations you can make to tailor to what it is your skin needs, for a great glycolic peel recipe click here, for more DIYs click here! ! It is very likely that you have a face mask recipe that you can’t live without. If so, we’d really love to hear about it…we may even add it to this blog!

Much Love,

Nora


Beer Rinse For Your Hair: Does it Work???

Beer = Perfect Hair?

I wish my hair was this long!

Is rinsing your hair with beer the long awaited miracle secret to long, shiny hair? Or just a hoax-y trend with no real results? I guess we’ll find out because I tried rinsing my hair with beer to see if it would truly improve my naturally textured hair (before and after pictures included). 

I’m pretty fearless when it comes to hair-related DIYs. I’ve cut my hair, I’ve highlighted my hair, I’ve even rubbed all kinds of mashed up fruits and veggies into my hair (DIY banana avocado hair mask…anyone?) but when I came across a DIY recipe for a beer rinse my first thought was, “um, ew.”

What Are The Benefits of Rinsing Your Hair With Beer?

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I have never understood the appeal of beer and the thought of saturating my curly hair with it seemed even less appealing. However, I couldn’t help my curiosity…if people are willing to risk having hair that smells like beer, the benefits of a beer soak must be pretty amazing and totally worth-while. So what are the supposed benefits of rinsing your hair with beer?

From what I’ve found, beer is the secret hair tonic we’ve all been searching for. Apparently, rinsing your hair with beer will make it: thicker, stronger, healthier, shinier, curlier (if you have curly hair), and can promote hair growth…phew…that is a lonnnng list. But what’s the science backing all of these amazing benefits?

Malts and Hops for Hair

Most of the sites promoting beer rinses credit the malt and hops in beer as an intense source of protein. While it’s definitely true that properly protein balanced hair is just as important as properly moisturized hair, if you’re like me you’re probably wondering what ice cream drinks and a bunny’s preferred method of movement have to do with beer or great hair.

Malt and hops are actually two important components of a beer’s structure. Many of the sites with DIY beer rinse recipes are a bit lacking in detail, when it comes to why a beer rinse is effective, but thankfully artisan beer brewers passionate about the craft are abundant online. 

What is Malt?

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I’d like to start by thanking The Brew Enthusiast for this detailed definition of Malt

“Malt is essentially the toasted version of any cereal grain. This includes barley, wheat, oat, rye, etc. The full name would be “Malted Barley” or “Malted Wheat”, if we chose to say it that way. We don’t choose to say it that way, so in beer vernacular we just say “Malt”. In most beer styles, the “malt” is barley, because it’s relatively high enzyme content makes it conducive for brewing. Pretty easy so far.

 We toast the cereal grain because we need to access the lovely sugars and enzymes within the grain. These sugars and enzymes form the sugary, substantive backbone of all beer. In their raw version (picked straight from the field), the starches in these cereal grains are not very accessible. Brewers sometimes use unmalted grain in their beer, but it’s a small percentage of the total grain used. We won’t get too far into the specific enzymes and chemicals we’re trying to create in this process, but suffice it to say that it’s important.”

– The Brew Enthusiast

If you’re still curious about malt I would highly recommend reading the rest of the article.

Why is Malt Good For Hair?

Even after knowing what malt was, I still didn’t understand how malt’s protein contribution worked so I had to spend some time on Brew Chatter to figure it out. To the best of my understanding, protein in grain aids the enzyme process during malting. As proteins break down during this process they become part of the malt base solution (the malt factor in beer). When protein interacts with hair it bonds to the hair shaft and fills in gaps, leaving hair strong and able to maintain its shape.

Did you know that some of our natural shampoo bars have natural sources of protein from grain? It’s true! Our Wheat and Honey Almond Shampoo Bar contains wheat germ (this bar also smells absolutely heavenly)

What are Hops?

“Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant Humulus lupulus,[1] a member of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants.[2] They are used primarily as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in beer, to which, in addition to bitterness, they impart floral, fruity, or citrus flavours and aromas.[3] Hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.”

Wikipedia

Hops have an astringent property that acts similarly to how apple cider vinegar or a citric acid hair rinse works and supposedly produces the same benefits of fighting dandruff and promoting shine. Hops do have a protein content, which means they could potentially strengthen the hair shaft while also smoothing it down (what makes hair shiny). 

Putting The Beer Rinse To The Test

I knew a beer rinse was too crazy not to write about, but it was so outlandish that I decided I wouldn’t write about it without giving it a go first. A couple of recipes called for non-alcoholic beer, claiming any alcohol content would simply overpower any results by drying the hair out. I decided not to follow this instruction, why? I honestly feel like most DIY adventures happen on a whim, so unless you already have non-alcoholic beer on hand, you’re not going to drive all the way to the store when you’ve got alcoholic beer in the fridge (C’mon people, we want results and we want them now!)

Letting my beer get flat.

I happened to have a bottle of Leinenkiugel’s Toasted Bock (a name I would never remember or be able to spell if I wasn’t holding the bottle in front of my face) left over from when I made Corned Beef. I did pour the beer into a container and let it sit for a couple of hours to flatten in. Apparently when the carbon dioxide in beer mixes with water it makes it hard…and as we all know…hard water makes hair washing…hard. 

There are many different methods for beer rinses online. Some say the rinse should be after shampoo, some call for leaving the beer in the hair, I found another experiment in which beer was the shampoo! With so many methods, I decided that coming up with my own wouldn’t mess too much with any results. I wet my hair with water, soaked my hair (scalp to ends) in beer, waited a couple minutes, rinsed with water, and then shampooed and conditioned as usual. Just as I did with my Winter Skin Saver Bar experiment, I did not use additional product in my hair because I wanted few variables for a clear outcome.

Results of my Beer Hair Rinse

My second day hair before the beer rinse (natural lighting)

I was disappointed. As my hair dried not only was it frizzy, but my curls were limp. Limp, frizzy curls were far from the bouncy, shiny ones I’d been hoping for. On the plus side, there was no lingering smell because I rinsed before I shampooed.

The first photo is my hair before the rinse. My curls don’t hold up past wash day even with a sleep with my hair in a loose bun my curls still get pulled out which is what you can see from this photo.

My hair after the beer rinse (artificial lighting)

As you can see, the results of the beer rinse look dramatic compared to my second day hair. It makes it seem as though the beer rinse made my hair go from wavy to curly when in reality this happens every time I wash my hair. What I was really focusing on was the quality of my curls.

If you look at the second picture, you can see how the curls start as waves, you can also see how loose the ends of my hair are. In order to call it a good wash day, I’m looking for more curl at the top and bottom and less “floofy” curls. To see what my hair looks like on a good wash day you can check out my blog on how I discovered my naturally curly hair, or my popular blog on the benefits of natural oils for your hair.

My hair after the beer rinse (used camera flash)

I took one last picture with flash because sometimes indoor lighting makes for grainier photos. Yes, my hair looks shinier, but that is simply because of the lighting. You can still see how loose the curls are.

Would the results have been different if I had used non-alcoholic beer, followed a recipe more closely, or used a styling product? Maybe. One thing’s for sure, a beer rinse will not be replacing my weekly Herbal Hair Rinse.

Much Love,

Nora


3 DIY Tea Bath ideas

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Look out bubble baths, these three DIY tea bath ideas are looking like huge game changers. Why try a tea bath or tea soak? Because teas have so many amazing topical benefits from detoxifying to skin-softening. I’m bringing you three different tea bath ideas each targeting a certain area of skincare that will prove for a relaxing and effective bath (plus if you get thirsty in the bathtub you’ve got the biggest cup of tea right there…just kidding…ew…

Chamomile Tea Facial With Honey

Chamomile is extremely gentle, making it the perfect tea for sensitive facial skin. Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, making it useful as a natural remedy for acne. Brew a pot of Chamomile Tea and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Why steep? Steeping allows the hot water to extract not only the flavor, but any nutrients still contained in the plant material. Stir in a tablespoon of raw honey. Why raw? Raw honey contains antibacterial properties which could help fight acne, Manuka honey is highly recommended as a high grade honey and you can read more about its benefits in Marianne’s blog on Glycolic Peels . Honey is also a humectant, meaning it draws in moisture without making your skin oily. We use honey in a few of our soaps for this exact reason! Once your tea is ready, soak a face cloth or small towel in the brew and then let it sit on your face for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry. Your skin should feel soft and fresh! Check out this list of best chamomile teas for 2020 by Sleepopolis!

Green Tea Bath with Lavender

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Drinking green tea is known in the health community as a phenomenal health-promoting drink with countless benefits including weight loss, but did you know that a full body soak in a green tea bath is a phenomenal way to deeply rejuvenate your skin? Green tea contains catechins, a powerful antioxidant that promotes beautiful, youthful skin. You can either prepare a strong pot of green tea, or if you like taking shortcuts like me, just toss 5-6 bags of green tea right into a hot bath like one giant cup of tea. You can wait a while and take the tea bags out, or if you’re impatient like me you can just climb on in and steep with the bags (for a list of the best green tea brands check out this list by Delish) ! There are so many topical benefits when it comes to green tea including its performance as a natural anti-aging remedy to helping with skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. For more information on the topical benefits of green tea check out this extensive Healthline article that provided me with the info mentioned above! Adding a couple drops of Lavender essential oil will give this bath a relaxing aroma; earthy and herbal. As you detoxify, don’t forget to keep a cold glass of water next to you so you can stay hydrated! Why is this important? As your body sweats out waste and toxins you are helping it by replenishing it with a pure substance. To read more about the importance of drinking water check out this blog!

Black Tea Foot Soak with Epsom Salts

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Black Tea has many of the same benefits as green tea, including its ability to improve skin conditions (including those caused by bacteria). For a foot bath you’ll need a container that fits both feet (or at least one). Make sure you have enough water to cover those footsies and then turn that water into tea! Add about a cup of Epsom salts and let it dissolve into the water. You can soak your feet as long as you want to. This is the perfect soak for feet that have been on the move all day long and are sore, this soak is also great for stinky feet that need a little cleanse because Epsom salts are also antibacterial and anti-fungal

Any of these tea soaks can be full body baths if you want them to be, or, if you want the tea experience but not the hassle you can try our Green Tea and Nettles Bar or Masala Chai Shampoo Bar. Both are rich in scent and amazing ingredients for your skin/hair!

What’s your favorite kind of tea?

Much Love,

Nora


5 DIY Ways to Relax During the Holiday Season

New Hemp Oil Products Just Released!

Our new Pain Relief Cooling Cream and Rebalance Facial Moisturizer are hot off the…I mean cool off the press and just in time to ease your stress. You can check these two products out and read all about the uses and benefits of CBD in this blog to help you decide if these products are exactly what you’ve been looking for!

Feeling Stressed this Year?

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Spending quality time with family, honoring important historical and religious events, participating in the season of giving, and eating delicious food are all reasons to look forward to the holidays in November and December. Unfortunately, the holiday season(s) is also a sad and stressful time for many. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle, so this week I’m reminding you to take a step back when you feel overwhelmed: when the turkey isn’t done in time, when you remember those who are no longer with you, when your kids decide they’d rather kick and scream than participate in the annual family Christmas photo, and all those little stressors that build-up over time and make you want to lock yourself in the closet with all the christmas presents that still need to be wrapped…

Take a step back? When there’s so much to be done? Easier said than done, right? I totally understand. Which is why I’ve got 5 simple, natural relaxation ideas for you to pick from or, golly, why not try them all? Seriously. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Phil are arriving in two days and the guest-room is still a mess from being turned into a work-from-home office, not to mention the bake sale coming up…whoa, deep breath. You’ve got this.

1) Breathe

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(Like I just said, right?) It seems too simple to be so effective, but focused breathing is actually the first technique listed in an article published in Harvard Health Publishing on relaxation techniques. Deep, even breaths will help calm and regulate your body and mind. You want to take deep breaths that draw all the way into your stomach. If you place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach as you breathe you can feel where the breath is engaging. Movement should be in your stomach and not in your chest in order to provide the benefits breathing offers. To stay focused, you can use a visual to time your breath like this Youtube Video.

2) Exercise

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Exercise is awesome. Why? According to Mayo Clinic, “Physical activity may help bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.” Aerobic exercise such as biking, running, or continuous dancing is designed to increase your blood oxygen levels. When the amount of oxygen in your blood increases it makes you feel more alert and less groggy. Not super confident about your exercising skills? Don’t worry, a simple kitchen dance party is something the whole family can participate in and all you need to do is move your body around! *If you have a history of health concerns, exercise caution when exercising and know your limits.

3) Take a Warm Bath

Not only does a hot bath help loosen tight muscles, it also gets you some much needed alone time. We know how much a bathing experience can improve your quality of life, which is why Marianne builds AVNS around this concept each and every day.

“For me, Apple Valley Natural Soap is more than a business. It’s a mission. My goal is to glorify God through this business and help you find the joys of rejuvenating and nourishing your body naturally from head to toe. Through your sense of sight, touch and smell, hopefully you’ll be reminded that it’s the simple pleasures of life that make that life memorable.”

-Marianne

So get some amazingly festive-smelling candles, a good book or your favorite playlist, some Sweet Rosehips Body Polish, A bar of your favorite Christmas Soap (COMING SOON!) a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and reemerge from your steamy oasis feeling like the natural, relaxed beauty you are.

4) Repetitive Prayer or Journaling

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Sometimes the people in your life may not get it, but your God does. A quiet place and some time with God may be just what you need. Repeating a prayer or even a bible verse over and over again may be a comfort. If your head feels too full, you can also try journaling. Letting all your thoughts, worries and questions out can be extremely therapeutic and a helpful way to navigate confusing or emotional situations. You can write to God, or a loved one, or even your future self. Whatever puts you at ease.

5) Connection through Creating

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Aka…is anyone else a stress baker? The title of this technique is a bit vague, but that’s because everyone is unique! There is nothing more relaxing to me than whipping out that sack of flour in the dead of night and quietly measuring the correct amount of sugar as I frantically try to make as many chocolate chip cookies as I can before someone comes out and asks me what I’m doing or even worse…offers to help. If Batman works alone, I bake alone. I love the preciseness and repetition baking requires. I love the sensory progress of baking and the delicious outcome. Getting your hands dirty and immersing yourself in a project can be wildly satisfying. Whether you enjoy painting, carving, or coloring, let your creativeness flow and feel the stress flow out of your body too…scone anyone?

Keep An Eye Out For Amazing Deals

I hope one or all of these techniques are helpful to you as you try to navigate this holiday season. I can’t wait to take a nice long bubble bath after finishing this blog! Speaking of bubbles, AVNS has some awesome things in store for you this holiday season. Marianne has been hard at work prepping Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales, as well as a fantastic Thanksgiving give-away…not to mention the fact that our Christmas Soap release is RIGHT around the corner! During the next couple weeks you’ll want to stay updated through our blog, newsletter, and social media for amazing deals that will basically ensure that all your Christmas-gift shopping is a breeze.

Much Love,

Nora


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


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:

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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?

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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)

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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


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!

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Much Love,

Nora


Fabulous Friday & Glycolic Peel

Have you ever had one of “those” days? 

You know, one of those days where you have great plans for everything you’re going to get done, but by the end of the day, even though you’ve been busy, you’re not quite sure how you managed to NOT get anything on your list done.

Well that’s been my day, well, it’s actually been my last week. At least it feels like it. 

Truthfully, I have been busy. Busy with the business (AVNS), busy with family, busy with life in general. But I don’t think I’m any more busy than most people, it seems to be the world we live in. But I guess that doesn’t make it okay. I’m starting to realize that when we’re busy, we miss out on so many things. So busy is okay for periods of time, then we need to do life with our family and friends.

Now I’m laughing at myself, this is NOT what I was going to blog about, but hey, welcome to my life!!!

This blog is over due, sorry! 

I thought it would be fun to give you all a recipe to try at home. We will eventually do some youtube videos, but we’re not quite there yet. So here’s a recipe I use at home on myself as a peel. Yes a homemade glycolic face peel, and I love it!

First, what is Glycolic Acid and it’s benefits?

Glycolic acid is simply an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from cane sugar. It has many benefits, some of which are:

  • Removes blackheads
  • Purifies pores
  • Improves texture of skin
  • Gently exfoliates dead cells
  • Gets rid of acne scars
  • Brightens skin tone
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation

I’m sure there are more, but I was super excited when I saw how the texture of my skin improved after doing this only once. You may be tempted to try this every day, but don’t, that would be too harsh on your skin. Start with once a week and then eventually move up to twice a week if needed. 

The items you’ll need:

Sugar, brown or white. Lemon juice or Yogurt. Manuka honey (opt.). Small bowl and spoon.

Before we get started, here are some details about the ingredients and why:

I already talked about why we use the sugar, so I’ll move onto an ingredient we have listed as optional. Manuka honey. It is expensive, so that’s why I made it optional, but here are some of the benefits to consider:

It is a potent anti-inflammatory, so soothes inflamed skin while healing blemishes. It also helps balance the skin’s pH and contains amino acids which slough away dead skin cells, helping to keep pores clear. Another benefit I like is that Manuka honey has been shown to increase collagen cross-linking, promoting the structural growth of collagen in skin cells. And since amino acids are the building blacks of collagen, they also protect collagen. Healthy collagen means healthy, firm, youthful-looking skin. It is also a natural humectant, drawing moisture into the skin. This hydration helps to further enhance the skin’s elasticity and cell regeneration, as well as promote healing.

Lemon juice. We use this because it’s rich in vitamin C, plus it contains citric acid which helps with the effectiveness of the peel. But if you have sensitive skin, you may want to try plain yogurt instead. Yogurt contains lactic acid, it’s still effective with the peel, but more gentle on the skin.

The recipe:

1 T soft brown sugar

1 T lemon juice (or 1 T plain yogurt)

opt. 1 T Manuka honey (if you use the honey, reduce the lemon juice down to 1 tsp)

Small bowl and spoon

That’s it!

The process:

I use whatever sugar we have in the house, which is typically Muscavado. So I need to blend/grind my sugar down to a powder so it is more gentle on my face. But if you’re using a fine grain/soft sugar, you’ll be okay.

  • Put your sugar into a bowl and add the honey (if using), and lemon juice (or yogurt).
  • Mix together until they are well combined. 
  • Apply gently in circular motions to a clean and slightly damp face. Avoid eyes and mouth.
  • Let it sit for 3-5 minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water, pat dry and follow with a moisturizer.
  • Love your skin!!!

Let me know if you try it 🙂

Until next time,

Marianne