You Should Try THIS Instead of Cutting or Coloring Your Own Hair

In the last three weeks have you:

Thought about cutting your own bangs?

Helped someone you know and love resist the temptation to cut their bangs?

Noticed your roots showing?

Felt the compulsion to dye your own hair?

Spent at least five minutes distracted by your split ends?

Looked up DIY hair dyes or haircuts on the internet?

The Problem with Coloring or Cutting Your Own Hair

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

If you said yes to any of the following questions, you’re not the only one. Homemade hair coloring and cutting trends are currently dominating social media. I’ll even be the first to admit that I’ve already attempted to give myself a few face framing layers (thank goodness curly hair is forgiving). 

I’m sure you’ve got enough tough decisions on your plate, which is why I’ve written this blog as a guide to help you determine if you should color or cut your own hair and to offer an easy and alternative solution to damaging box dye and messy natural, DIY dye.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Messing with your haircut or hair color is risky business, especially if you’re planning on cutting or dyeing it yourself. Cutting and dyeing your hair are long term changes that can’t always be fixed and although box dye seems like a simple solution, chemical dyes and bleach may result in extreme hair damage that can last for years.

Should you Color or Cut Your Own Hair?

Ideally you’d hightail any problem hair straight to a salon, but the unique circumstances of our world right now make this difficult so the questions you have to ask are not how to cut or color your hair, when to cut and color your hair, or where to cut or color your hair…the questions you need to ask yourself are:

What do I want to do to my hair…and why?

Yes. If you want to dye your hair fire engine red or cut off ten inches then you need to determine why

Here’s my advice: if you want to dye or cut your own hair because you are bored, restless, or stressed you should allow yourself to take a moment to reflect on the non-hair-related root of your feelings because changing your hair may not be the answer you are looking for. 

The Root of the Problem 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Humans are motivated by visible progress and right now that kind of progress may be more difficult to achieve. If we feel like we aren’t making progress, we turn to other areas of our lives in hopes of fulfillment. Taking our stress out on our hair is tempting because it’s right there on our heads. According to The Harvard Business Review, “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important thing is making progress in meaningful work.”

I would not considering drastically changing my hair to be meaningful work and here’s why: 

I love my hair, but at the end of the day my hair does not take care of me, I take care of my hair.

Giving myself face framing layers or highlights with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda won’t nourish my body. A healthy scalp will.

Which is why if the changes you want to make are less about drastic change and more about keeping your hair healthy and beautiful there is something you can do.

Dyeing Your Hair Naturally

Your search to maintain your hair’s vibrancy has probably led you to a box dye alternative: coloring your hair naturally. Natural methods of hair coloring include plants with a strong, natural pigment to darken and tint hair or oxidizing properties to lighten hair.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

The prospect of dyeing your hair with natural ingredients may seem exciting, but I can tell you from experience that the tedious process to find and prepare a recipe is not worth the results unless you are using a natural dye like henna.

I have seen so many videos of young women with brown streaks running down their faces and necks as they try to massage coffee grounds into their scalps after simmering said coffee mixture for four hours straight only to come out with hair the exact same shade as it was before. 

Natural, DIY hair dyes are messy, confusing, and time consuming…if only it was as simple as hopping into your shower with a shampoo bar…

Well, guess what. It is!

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

We’d eventually love to offer a more permanent hair dye product, which is why we’re currently looking at henna as a potential ingredient for future Shampoo Bars and possibly dyes, but until that time comes (and trust me, I’ll make sure you’ll be the first to know when that is) we’ve got some fantastic shampoo bars that may be just what your hair needs right now.

While our shampoo bars are not meant to replace hair dye treatments, we’ve crafted several of our bars with natural ingredients that are shown to boost and maintain color.

With our shampoo bars you won’t have to go out of your way by prepping your hair, keeping track of a schedule, or waiting for a leave-in to work. It’s as simple as washing your hair!

Coloring your hair requires you to start with clean hair, which means you waste time and water. Our shampoo bars are already made to clean! Safely coloring your hair requires you to not over-use bleach or chemicals, but our shampoo bars’ natural ingredients are gentle enough for daily use! Coloring your hair can take hours, but our shampoo bars can be added to your routine without taking up any extra time. 

Our Color-Friendly Shampoo Bars Prioritize the Health of Your Hair and Scalp

Dark Hair — Coffee

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Coffee is a pigmented ingredient that is shown to provide a rich, deep hue in dark hair so we brewed up a Latte Brunette Shampoo Bar with organic coffee!

Blonde Hair — Lemon Essential Oil

Photo by Lena Khrupina on Pexels.com

Lemon is the perfect natural lightening agent for hair because it contains citric acid (lightener) and vitamin C (for hair strengthening) and we’ve packed our Coconut Milk and Citrus Bar full of citrus essential oils for this purpose!

Red Hair — Rose Hips

Rose Hips are those tiny, tomato like fruits you see on your rose bush. Like the flowers they produce, rose hips have a vibrant red pigment and we’ve put them in our Bella Rose Bar so you can literally shower yourself with roses (this is a personal favorite of mine.)

Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels

Now, don’t get me wrong…if you’ve been “dyeing” to dye your hair fire engine red for the past year then I don’t want to stop you from achieving your dreams, but if the next family photo is coming up sooner than you thought then you might want to play it safe (I know I was thanking my lucky stars that I decided to wait on the DIY bangs as I took my graduation photos today).

Much Love,

Nora


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!


How Embracing My Natural Textured Hair Changed My Life

Hi, I’m Eleanor (but you can call me Nora)!

As the newest member of Apple Valley Natural Soap, I’ll be writing informative and (hopefully) entertaining blogs inspired by AVNS’s products and the ingredients that go into making them. I could not be more thrilled about joining this fantastic, curl-friendly company!

I’ve been ruminating on a proper introduction and while I could go on for hours about my adorable dog, my passion for improv, and my international expeditions…I thought I’d share the aspect of my life that drew me to AVNS in the first place: my hair. However, in order to share my hair care journey, I’m going to have to come clean about something…

I Thought My Hair was Just Frizzy

I’m going to be honest,

I haven’t always taken care of my hair.

My hair was stick straight until sixth grade. Then it got frizzy. From seventh to tenth grade I blow-dried, straightened, and curled my hair with heat every day before school.

That’s right. For four years I woke up at five-thirty am every single morning so I could devote an extra hour to frying my hair.

Sometimes I’d have to straighten my hair and
use a curling iron to keep my hair from frizzing up again.

I did the math.

There are about 165 school days in a year, so one hour per day is 165 hours a year. Multiply that by four and your total is 660 hours. Divide that by 24 hours and that’s 27.5 days. That’s almost an entire non-leap-year February.

A month. A month-long, hair-frying marathon.

I find this horrifying, but not surprising. You see, I didn’t know any better and there was no one to tell me otherwise. I was stuck with a head full of poodle frizz and every hair commercial I saw just enforced my belief that you were either born with beautiful hair or could fix it with heat if you weren’t. Because of this, I did not feel comfortable or confident with my own hair.

Straightening My Hair Hurt My Self-Esteem

Now, I want to make it clear that there is a difference between doing something because you want to and doing something because you think you have to. There is also a difference between touching up your hair a bit every once in a while and changing it every day because you are ashamed of leaving the house otherwise.

How your hair looks my not seem like a big deal, but when you feel forced to alter something about your appearance in order to conform to society’s standards you risk sending another, more damaging message to yourself that says, “the way you are is unacceptable.”

I’m going to tell you something right now: that message is a huge, unacceptable lie.

Thankfully, nature gave me a huge dose of reality…or should I say, douse?

How I found out my hair was curly

In eleventh grade my family went on vacation in Mexico and because of the weight limits on luggage I was also forced to take a vacation from my blow-dryer and curler. After a day spent playing in the ocean all that salt gave my hair the boost it needed to prove to me that it could do more than frizz.

I guess nature has a habit of bringing out the best in us.

At first I thought maybe the curly hair thing was a fluke. For a few weeks I dipped my hair in a bowl filled with table salt and water to get the same results as I had from the ocean (Yes, I looked ridiculous doing this) but eventually I did some research. I bought curly hair products, styled my hair when it was wet, and left the heat tools in my drawer.

I included this goofy picture of me circa 2017 so you could see what damaged curly hair looks like. See how the top of my hair is curly and the bottom looks kind of straw-like? It took two years of hair cuts and no heat to fix the damage I’d caused to my hair.

My Hair’s Journey from Straight to Curly

My hair’s transformation did not occur overnight: the years of straightening had damaged my natural curl pattern beyond repair. Weaning myself off of heat tools also took several years because I was so used to relying on them, but it was worth it.

My decision to embrace my natural hair means I get to feel ten times better about myself without making any adjustments.

How My Curly Hair Led Me to Apple Valley Natural Soap

AVNS wants you to look great, but more importantly we want you to go through life feeling great. 

This is how my natural hair looks when I style it without heat. No curlers, just the perfect hair routine.

As a curly girl with defiant curls, I care about what goes into my hair products. Cheap brands of shampoo and conditioner may advertise products for curly hair, but if you take the time to pull out your magnifying glass and scan the ingredient list hidden on the back of your shampoo bottle, it will reveal silicones and sulfates (agents notorious for parching and dulling curls over time). Honesty in the health and beauty industry is so important, we want safe products with long term benefits and as consumers we want to invest in a company we can trust without constantly having to run DIY background checks on what we are using in our hair and on our bodies.  

AVNS proudly displays our ingredient list right under every product description, and why wouldn’t we? From straight to spiral and everything in between, we’ve got shampoo bars that will nourish your silky strands. And that, my friend, is the honest truth.

Psst. Starting out on your curl journey and looking for something to help tame that frizz? Try the Lavender Silk or Jojoba Silk bar!