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!

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

Much Love,

Nora