A New Way to Use Soap: a reflection and guide to peaceful, reflective thought

Let’s Catch Up

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Every once in a while I like to take a mindful pause, contemplate the joys and difficulties of our current season of life, and write a more reflective piece for the AVNS blog. Why? It’s my way of connecting with all you wonderful people as a fellow human being. It’s also a chance to remind myself and the AVNS community that behind every beautiful bar of soap is a fantastic team of people who all have stories to share and lives to live. With this being said, I’m excited to share that over time and starting within the coming months we’re hoping to craft feature blogs for all of the amazing people behind AVNS…but for now I’ll have to do. 

The Importance of Easter

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I sincerely hope the contents of today’s blog are useful to you, wherever you may be on your life-journey and regardless of religious affiliation, however I do want to take a moment to share what stirred me to write this blog in the first place. Today’s blog was inspired by the recent Easter holiday, an important holiday for many AVNS team members, including myself. For Christians, Holy Week is a time of respectful reflection, gratefulness and celebration. Holy Week and Easter are commemorations of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a purposeful and powerful sacrifice resulting in eternal life in Heaven for all who acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior. 

What Does Soap Have To Do With It?

Now you may be wondering, what does Easter, or even Christianity…or even religion in general…or EVEN just the acts of contemplation and reflection…have to do with soap? To be honest, I had the same question…which is why I turned to my Bible. I figured the Bible is just as much a historical account as a religious text, maybe I’d find some ancient soap recipe (probably involving saltor clay) to write about, but a quick internet search brought me to an even cooler connection…How To Soap.

Our popular Honey Carrot and Tangerine Soap!

The S.O.A.P Method

Well, that’s obvious…right? Just lather, rinse, and repeat with your favorite bar of AVNS soap and you’re good to go. I was surprised to learn that soap or S.O.A.P is actually an acronym for a method to read and reflect on scripture. How cool is that?! I found this method on Love God Greatly, a website for women’s ministry. I share the original method below, but I’ve also adapted each step so that everyone is able to utilize this method.

S.O.A.P

S – stands for scripture, or sentence-by-sentence.

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You’ll start by taking your verse or line and actually taking the time to write it out. It’s amazing how just the act of intentionally slowing down will allow you to really focus on what you are reading. If you aren’t so sure about religious texts you could always start with a piece of poetry you love or even song lyrics. If you’re curious or interested in what the Bible has to offer, here are a few verses that I find calming and encouraging.

Encouraging Bible Verses

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

O – stands for observation.

Ask yourself. What stands out to you as you read your text? Which words are repeated? Does it sound different if you read it out loud? Who is the speaker addressing? What is the tone? You’d be surprised how a deeper understanding of a text can teach you so much about life and yourself.

A – stands for application.

When in a religious context, you can ask yourself “How is God speaking to me today?” Also ask yourself in what ways you can apply what you’ve read to your personal life. Are there habits you need to change? Actions to take towards a goal you’ve set for yourself? A comfort you can fall back on in times of stress?

P – stands for prayer, or personal-dialogue.

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Talk to God. Tell Him about what you learned, ask Him about any questions that came up during your reading. If you aren’t familiar with prayer, think of the p as personal dialogue. Take a walk out in nature where you have some privacy and speak out loud to yourself, it may seem strange at first…but try it. Did you know that the act of talking out loud to yourself, or self-talk can actually improve concentration and self-esteem? If self-talk isn’t your cup of tea, try journaling. Write a letter to yourself, or a friend…even if you don’t plan on ever sharing what you write with them. If you’d like to try praying but aren’t sure how, try talking to God like He’s just another one of your friends or family members who cares about you. God is never judging you, he loves you and wants to know you.

Thank You For Your Time Today

I hope this blog served as a fun and interesting change of pace. If you’re interested in checking out our more typical posts (natural ingredients we use, benefits of the products we offer, etc.) click here!

Much Love,

Nora


5 Natural Remedies For Pets

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As you already know, here at AVNS we’re huge fans of natural alternatives when it comes to beauty and health-care products. We believe using natural ingredients like essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and plant derived butters on hair and skin can help decrease the risk of allergic reactions to synthetic products, provide an option for those with sensitive skin, and interact more effectively with our bodies. Of course, if these natural remedies work so well for so many people, doesn’t it make sense that they’d work for animals too? 

Absolutely! Certain natural products can be used on pets for a plethora of helpful benefits such as, keeping your pet’s skin moisturized,helping to relieve itchy skin, and even repelling fleas. You’d be surprised how many of these natural antidotes are already in your cupboard! Today I’ll be going over 5 natural remedies for pets that will help them look and feel their best!

1) Use Natural Pet Shampoo to Decrease Dry Skin and Allergies

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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.

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? Just like natural shampoo for humans, our natural pet shampoo is moisturizing because of its natural glycerin content. You’ll get the same deep clean without the irritation. We’ve formulated a special shampoo bar, just for pets, but some of our “hoo-man” shampoo bars work as well!

Natural Pet Shampoo

Our long lasting 4 oz round organic pet soap is free from artificial colors, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates and synthetics, and may help restore your pet’s sensitive or allergy-prone skin to health. Your smallest 4 legged friend will love you all the more for using this safe & effective shampoo, plus you will love the sudsy lather which is effective in washing out all the grime from your dirt loving, mud rolling canine to equine. If you’re looking for natural dog shampoo, organic cat shampoo, or natural horse shampoo, you’ll love our pet shampoo bars.

In the creation of this bar, we have added specific oils, butters and essential oils which are safe for animals and will help both with skin and coat health, as well as keeping little unwanted pests away. As with all shampoo bars, this natural pet shampoo bar needs to be used with soft water for a thick sudsy effective bathing experience.

Beneficial Ingredients in Natural Pet Shampoo

Olive oil: dermal regenerator for your pets dry skin, its antioxidant effect helps nourish the cells and revitalize the epidermis.
Coconut: adds moisture to your pet’s skin and prevents flaking. It has antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which mean that it will reduce fungus and yeast when used topically.
Castor oil: not only provides a thick fluffy lather, but is effective for soothing and treating skin problems, for repelling fleas in ticks when in combination with essential oils, and for treating tumorous growths or cysts.
Shea butter: moisturizes dry, itchy skin and adds luster and shine to the coat.
Colloidal oats: act as an anti-inflammatory treatment to calm your pets skin irritations.
Essential oils of lemongrass, frankincense & cedarwood: have a multitude of benefits some of which include soothing abilities and calming effects on the nervous system, treating and repelling common pests like fleas and ticks, plus properties which have antiseptic actions that can heal the skin.

Lavender Silk Shampoo and Body Bar

Voted one of our top five best smelling shampoo bars and infused with silk peptides, this bar is perfect for a long-haired pet. Silk peptides promote smooth, shiny hair and if you read our blog last week, you’ll know that  lavender essential oil is not only safe for dogs, but may even help soothe and relax them…a definite plus if you have a fur-baby who doesn’t like bath-time!

Jojoba Silk Conditioning Shampoo Bar

This bar is loaded with naturally moisturizing oils and hair-protecting silk peptides. This is a perfect shampoo for wire-haired dog breeds, or dogs with coarse hair. This bar can also be used to give your horse a radiant mane and tail!

2) File your pet’s nails

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Trimming your dog’s nails can be daunting. Many dogs get anxious if you try to trim their nails, and if you accidentally cut the dog’s quick they will bleed. Unless you know how to trim your dog’s nails, I would highly recommend letting a professional grooming service take care of it.

However, sometimes nail trims can leave your pet’s nails with sharp edges. These edges are usually filed down naturally when they come in contact with pavement during “walkies”…but if your dog can’t handle long walks you can use a typical nail file to round out your dog’s nails. I recently did this to my dog while she was napping and she barely even noticed. It saved us both a ton of anxiety and stress and I didn’t have to worry about her tearing through any furniture.

Apple Cider Vinegar as a Natural Remedy For Pets and Humans

I can’t live without my weekly ACV hair rinse.  Raw, organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar is the best curl cleanser, but it also has a multitude of benefits for your pet!

3) DIY Ear Cleaning Solution

Dogs don’t need their ears cleaned regularly. If you notice your dogs ears seem waxy it probably means that your dog’s body is working to flush something out of its system. If you let nature run its course it will probably clear up on its own. If you notice that your dog is experiencing discomfort and is shaking his/her head and itching at the ear, that’s when you can step in. A 50/50 solution of water and apple cider vinegar can be swabbed inside your pet’s ear with a cotton pad to clean out any irritant. 

4) Apple Cider Vinegar for Itchy Skin

The acidity of apple cider vinegar is useful in combating itchy skin or rashes like poison ivy or yeast. Just mix a solution of 50/50 acv and water in a spray bottle and spray down the affected area. Be careful to avoid spraying on open wounds, as this will sting.

5) Flea and Tick Repellent

Using your same spray bottle mixture of 50/50 acv and water, you can lightly spritz your pet weekly. The acv will taste extremely appetizing to any pest that decides to take a chomp on your dog!

I hope these tricks come in handy next time you’re in a pinch with your pet and need a quick solution!

Much Love,

Nora


Pets and Essential Oils: Is it Safe?

Hello AVNS community! My name is Abigail Paige, and I’m a ballet dancer living in Washington D.C. I’ve been many places throughout my dance journey, but I was born and raised in Lakeville, Minnesota. Living naturally was a huge part of growing up, and a lot of those principles have stayed with me through the years. I am and have always been a huge animal lover, and am so blessed to have been able to find a job at a little pet store half a block’s walk from my apartment. The company’s focus is providing 100% natural pet food and products, so I really resonate with the objective and have learned so much in my time working there.

I remember the worst thing about getting sick when I was younger – essential oils had to be diffused in my room at night. This is by no means a bad thing, in fact it’s an incredibly effective solution, however it meant my beloved little dog Pippin wouldn’t be able to sleep in the room with me as he usually did. If essential oils are a large part of your daily lifestyle, you may have heard something similar to what my mom would tell me, that essential oils are toxic to pets. This is true in some cases, but fortunately for those of us who love both our furry friends and the benefits of essential oils, not always.

There are many factors that go into how safe it is to use essential oils around your pet. As we know, dogs and cats have extremely powerful noses, so keep in mind that a scent that is just barely perceptible to us may be incredibly strong and irritating to them. The type of oil being used largely varies the effect it will have on your pet. Some oils actually have calming or healing effects on pets, while others are highly toxic. It also depends on whether the oils are being used for topical treatment or being diffused in your home. Many oils, like tea tree, are beneficial when applied topically but harmful when inhaled or ingested by the animal.

Every pet will respond differently to various oils, so be sure to always monitor your pet’s outward signs while using essential oils in your home. Essential oils should be used with special caution around cats and flat-faced dog breeds, who are more prone to respiratory issues. If you have access to a vet, ask them about which specific essential oils are safe for your pet.

Which Oils Are Safe?

In general, the most important oils to avoid with all animals are high-phenol oils and those with high concentrations of pinene. These can cause liver toxicity, skin irritation, or respiratory issues for your pet. Some of the most common include:

  • Oregano
  • Wintergreen
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus oils
  • Cassia
  • Nutmeg
  • Mountain Savory
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fir

Some essential oils that are generally safer to use around pets and may actually have some benefits are:

  • Chamomile – calming, restful sleep, eases upset stomach
  • Clary Sage – calming, anti-bacterial
  • Sweet Marjoram – calming, inflammation, anti-bacterial, digestion
  • Frankincense – calming, anti-bacterial
  • Valerian – calming, restful sleep, skin soothing, digestion
  • Ginger – joint pain, digestion, inflammation
  • Cedarwood – insect repellent, calming, immune support, pain relief
  • Lavender (AVOID with cats) – skin soothing, calming, insect repellent
  • Helichrysum
  • Rose

As may be obvious, there are a plethora of essential oils out on the market. It may be overwhelming to know that no “dos & don’ts” list is completely foolproof, but rest assured that the best person to ask regarding the safety of your pet is a licensed veterinarian. Some vets are even able to do blood tests to see if your pet will have an unusual reaction to a certain oil.

Topical vs. Diffusion

Topical application of certain essential oils can have many benefits for pets, and sometimes oils that you would otherwise avoid may be recommended for medical benefits for your pet. For example, tea tree oil is often used as a flea and tick repellent or hot spot relief. However, it is incredibly important when applying any oil to a pet’s fur or skin to remember to heavily dilute the oil with a carrier oil. This brings the strength of the oil down to a more manageable level for your pet and decreases the risk of any unwanted reactions. AVNS carries a high-quality virgin jojoba oil that works as a wonderful carrier oil for topical application. In addition, it also comes with its own benefits of soothing, conditioning and healing your pet’s skin and coat. Just be sure to order the unscented one when using on pets, so there are no unnecessary ingredients other than the intended oil being applied.

Young Living Essential Oils’ website recommends using a 9:1 ratio of carrier oil to essential oil for small dogs and cats, and a 4:1-3:1 ratio for medium and large dogs. It’s best to apply the oils by rubbing them together in your hands and stroking your pet gently. Be careful not to apply oils in an area where your pet could easily lick them off, as ingesting oils may seriously harm your pet. On their back or base of the neck is usually the best place to apply.

If you’re like me and love to use an essential oil diffuser in your home all day every day, you’re probably wondering how safe that is for your pet. Like topical application, there are ways to the reduce the chance of a negative reaction from your pet and help them stay feeling comfortable in their own home.

  • Try to stick with pet-safe essential oils.
  • Use less concentration than you normally would – only add 1-2 drops to your diffuser at a time.
  • Don’t run the diffuser constantly, only for intermittent periods of time.
  • Place the diffuser high up or in an area where it’s not dispensing directly near your pet or where your pet might be able to knock it over.
  • Always be sure your pet has another area to go and leave the room that oils are being diffused in if they are uncomfortable or irritated by the scent.
  • When using a new oil around a pet, do a test run of the diffuser for 10-15 minutes and closely monitor your pet’s reaction. Watch for scratching, excessive drooling/panting or sneezing, lethargy, redness around face, or vomiting. If all seems well, continue using it in short time periods while always keeping an eye out for any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Essential Oils in Pet Shampoo

Just as is with human beauty products, fragrances in pet shampoo can be a common irritant for many pets. Fortunately for us natural-conscious pet owners, AVNS has designed a pet-safe shampoo bar packed with priceless natural ingredients specifically for your furry friend! Olive, castor and coconut oils along with colloidal oats rejuvenate, soothe and moisturize any dry or irritated skin. Shea butter does the same while also conditioning your pet’s coat for a shiny, healthy finish. Last but not least, natural pet-safe essential oils of lemongrass, frankincense & cedarwood add their own healing, calming and insect repelling benefits. This bar is more than just a bath, it’s a smorgasbord of valuable and helpful ingredients to keep your pet happy, healthy and looking beautiful.

If you’re looking for a different scent or maybe even for something you might already have in your AVNS soap stockpile, check out all the other bars that are safe for use with pets:

Pets are an integral part of our home lives. Although the responsibility can be daunting, we take every effort to make sure they have the longest and happiest life possible. When we make the choice to “go natural” in our own lives, we do it because we care about what we put in our bodies. Our pets share a home with us, so why not use the same intention with them?

Until next time,

Abigail


Apple Valley Natural Soap’s 5 Best Smelling Shampoo Bars

According to you, me, Marianne and Tia!

If you joined us back in October during our hunt for our 5 best smelling body bars we’d like to welcome you back for a round two reveal of our best smelling shampoo bars.

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Over the weekend we’ve been getting survey results and thanks to your input, five shampoo bars emerged as clear winners. According to you, our customers, these five shampoo bars are our most irresistible smelling bars.

What’s the Difference Between a Body Soap Bar and a Shampoo Bar?

The main difference between a natural body soap bar and a natural shampoo bar are the types of ingredients used. Our body bars contain large amounts of rich oils and butters that could weigh hair down or give it a greasy appearance if used on hair. Shampoo bars contain smaller amounts of these ingredients…enough for your hair to reap the benefits they provide, but not so much that they overwhelm your hair! Every hair type is different, meaning some shampoo bars may work better for fine hair than bars that work for curly hair. Some of our customers have had success using body bars on their hair. You can even see what happened when I used the Winter Skin Saver Bar on my hair!

5 Irresistible Smelling Natural Shampoo Bars

1) Bella Rose Shampoo and Body Bar

Soap Profile

Description

Bella Rose Shampoo Bar!

This delicate, floral scented bar with a blend of jasmine, wild rose and warm sandalwood celebrates femininity with flair! Moisturizing mango butter and rich olive, avocado and jojoba oils pack this bar with emollient, conditioning power while pink kaolin clay and rose hips cleanse toxins from the skin and scalp. This leaves you with a clean, healthy head of beautiful, easy to manage hair and a silky body softly scented. One customer’s husband said this scent was the perfect aphrodisiac!

Our Sweet Rosehips Body Polish also coordinates with Bella Rose perfectly. Just wash up with Bella Rose, then scrub your body with our exfoliating, moisturizing Sweet Rosehips Body Polish and feel and smell like a movie star. It doesn’t get any better than this. Makes a fabulous gift.

Ingredients

Saponified oils of organic coconut, organic olive, mango seed butter, unrefined organic cocoa butter, castor bean and organic jojoba, pink kaolin clay, rose hips, rosemary oil extract, and essential oils of orange, cinnamon leaf, fragrance.

Commentary

Who else guessed this bar would steal first place? I certainly did! The sweet scent of this bar is intoxicating and reminds me of spring. It’s loaded with rose hips, the fruit of a rose that is known for its amazing skin benefits and deep, rich pigment. This bar is perfect for a head of fiery curls and I would strongly, strongly support the recommendation to pair this soap with our Sweet Rosehips Body Polish!

2) Lavender Buttermilk Shampoo Bar

Soap Profile

Description

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

Ingredients

Saponified oils of organic coconut, organic sustainable palm, castor bean, organic olive, organic jojoba, and mango seed butter, buttermilk, rosemary oil extract, and essential oils of Vanilla, Eucalyptus, Estragon, fragrance.

Commentary

Drenching your hair in the creamy and soothing scent of this bar is the perfect way to unwind after a long day, so it’s no surprise this bar is well loved!

This is a great shampoo bar! I love the scent and it lathers really well. I’ve been using shampoo bars from a different company for years and I feel like this one is easier to use and it leaves my hair softer and silkier. Definitely recommend it!”

-Satisfied Customer

3) Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo Bar

Soap Profile

Description

I have to admit, I go a little bonkers over this shampoo bar. Have you ever jumped into a cold lake after a hot sauna? Cuz’ here’s your chance to do it while keeping your feet firmly planted in the shower, which is my way of pulling off this feat. You get all the the cool, refreshing, and invigorating sensations you’re looking for with none of the sweat or the shock.

(Psst. Keep the tingly feeling going with our coordinating Matcha Mint Body Polish. Makes a perfect pair after a hard work out—if you’re into that kind of thing—which I’m most definitely not. Can someone pass the cookies?)

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

Special Beneficial Ingredients in this Bar

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Coconut oil which is a super-oil full of naturally present antioxidants, it is an excellent anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
Olive oil which is packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it superb for hair, skin, and nails.
Jojoba oil is a natural anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, its properties keep the scalp clean and healthy. It can also prevent hair loss and thinning caused by the clogged hair follicles as it dissolves and clears these blockages and promotes the development of new hair cells, which can lead to hair growth.
Shea butter strengthens your skin by stimulating the production of collagen, it helps make your skin more supple, more alive, nourished and radiant. We could keep going, but you probably get the idea.
Peppermint and Tea Tree essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint adds a cooling effect which can help eliminate the urge to scratch, while tea tree thanks to it’s fantastic anti-fungal properties is great for fighting dandruff. Tea tree oil fights the fungus that causes dandruff without drying out the scalp, it can also serve as a natural conditioner and eliminate problems that lead the scalp to flake.

Ingredients

Saponified oils of organic coconut, organic olive, castor bean, organic sunflower, organic sustainable palm, organic jojoba, organic shea nut butter, and mango seed butter, rosemary oil extract, and essential oils of organic peppermint and organic tea tree.

Commentary

I have not tried this bar yet, since I’m more of a floral girl, but I will admit that the description never fails to capture my attention. I’m also intrigued by the powerful ingredient list. I wonder if the peppermint and tea tree (known for helping cure acne) combo would help me with my greasy scalp issues? This bar will be in my next order, what about you?

4) Lavender Silk Shampoo Bar

Soap Profile

Description

Lavender Silk is a beautifully scented lavender bar, packed full nourishing ingredients for hair, scalp, and body. Ingredients such as organic shea butter and organic olive oil, have a high content of non-saponifiable fatty acids which gives them the ability to deeply moisturize hair, and retain the elasticity of the skin. Organic cocoa butter has amazing healing and softening properties, silk peptides help protect as well as give shine and elasticity, and lavender has countless benefits for skin and scalp due to its antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. If you love Lavender, you can’t go wrong with this bar!

Ingredients

Saponified Oils of Organic Coconut, Organic Olive, Castor, Organic Sustainable Palm, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Shea Butter, Silk Peptides, Alkanet Root, Rosemary Oil Extract & Lavender Essential Oil.

Some information about the silk we use in this bar: https://www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com/vegan-and-gluten-free-information/

Commentary

I’m actually surprised that this bar did not place in the top three. I love how light and dreamy this lavender bar smells as well as its gorgeous coloring. Silk peptides are fantastic for curly hair because they are gentle and make the hair shine. This bar can also be used on your dog!

5) Key Lime Shampoo Bar

Soap Profile

Description

Our zesty Key Lime Shampoo bar has the added benefit of coconut milk which is 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. We loaded this bar up with other great ingredients such as nourishing mango seed butter and moisturizing sunflower oil, along with Key Lime essential oil which not only imparts a fantastic scent, but may help remove excessive oil, reduce dandruff and help with hair manageability due to it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, astringent and healing benefits.

Ingredients

Saponified oils of organic coconut, grapeseed, castor bean, organic sustainable palm, organic sunflower oil, mango seed butter, organic coconut milk, rosemary oil extract, french green clay and essential oils of key lime and organic litsea cubeba. 

Commentary

I haven’t tried this bar or even smelled it, but I love the smell of lime so I don’t know what I’m waiting for!

Notable Top Five Favorite Shampoo Bar Lists

Of course, I’m including some notable top 5 lists from people who know AVNS soap like the back of their super clean, super moisturized hands (including the list of the owner herself, Marianne!). These lists aren’t only based on smell, but how they work as well!

Tia’s Top 4 Shampoo Bars 

Tia is our fantastic social media guru, she made the AVNS newsletter what it is today and also has a few blog posts you should definitely check out!

  1. Bella Rose Shampoo Bar
  2. Bamboo Shampoo Bar
  3. Wild North Shampoo Bar
  4. Marshmallow and Aloe Shampoo Bar
  5. Lavender Silk Shampoo Bar

“The Lavender Silk Shampoo Bar is a favorite because it’s sooo silky and smooth. My skin feels amazing after using it and the smell is sweet and elegant.”

-Tia, AVNS Content Creator

Nora’s Top 5 Shampoo Bars

Nora? That’s me! If you love bars that smell deliciously sweet my list is your go-to.

  1. Bella Rose Shampoo Bar
  2. Wheat and Honey Almond
  3. Chamomile and Orange Blossom
  4. Lavender Silk Shampoo Bar
  5. Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar

“The Pink Lemonade Shampoo Bar is a secret treasure trove for curly hair! This bar’s scent is very soft, but it smells exactly like lemonade. This bar also gives my curls fantastic definition. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it by chance.”

-Nora, AVNS Content Writer

Marianne’s Top 5 Body Soap Bars

If there’s anyone’s list you should be taking notes on, it’s the woman who continues to create soaps with amazing scents!

  1. Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar
  2. Cafe Mocha Shampoo Bar
  3. Key Lime Shampoo Bar
  4. Grapefruit Mint Shampoo Bar
  5. Coconut Milk and Citrus Shampoo Bar

Hmmm, looks like someone loves her mint, citrus, and coffee scents!

How to Choose Your Next Bar!

You know all the favorites, you can even check out our article that goes into depth about why some customers love some of the bars mentioned above! Now you just have to decide which to try first! Remember, if you get six bars you get a seventh bar free…and that one might just be your new favorite! We’re always coming out with new soaps…including a coming soon release named after a popular soft-drink! Stay tuned…

Much Love,

Nora


FAQs About Our Soap (and soap in general)

Have you ever wondered how soap works? You aren’t the only one, this week I’ve pulled some questions from our FAQ page and I’ll be expanding on some questions about the science behind soap and how it works. I’ll also take a look at the difference between natural soap and popular brand soaps you’d find at your local grocery store. Hopefully by the end of this blog you’ll have a better understanding of what it is that makes soap effective and what to look for when choosing soaps for your household, and yourself.

What is Soap?

“Soap is made by combining an alkaline solution with animal fats or vegetable oils which are acidic. When mixed under the right circumstances, they neutralize to form a new compound which we call “soap”. Saponification is the technical term for this reaction.” ()

Handmade Soap by Tatyana Hill

What Makes Soap Effective?

This is such a fun craft and a great way to learn about the importance of washing hands!!

Soap works as an emulsifier. In simplest terms, an emulsifier helps to join together or fuse substances that would otherwise be incompatible. What do incompatible substances look like when they interact? For an easy visual, picture the popular children’s craft project that calls for mixing oil and water in a water bottle. Because the two substances do not blend it creates a lava lamp-like result with the oil floating on top of the water. 

The same interaction (or lack of) occurs on your body. Our skin creates a crucial oil called sebum, while this oil is necessary as a protective layer on our skin and works to ‘catch’ dirt and germs from penetrating our skin, it also means that all this waste accumulates over time on our bodies. Think of the surface of your skin like a freshly made spider web, the web works hard all day to trap bugs and provide for the spider, but at the end of the day that web is one grimy mess. This is where soap comes into play.

Just like the water bottle project I mentioned earlier, water alone is unable to penetrate oil on our skin, but soap molecules can. Soap can surround both the oil on our skin as well as any dirt caught in the oil. Because soap and water are compatible, the water can then lift the soap off of the skin, leaving you with clean hands.

What is the Difference Between Natural Soap and Soaps like Dial and Dove?

“Soap is made commercially in huge vats by a process called “continuous method”, in which ingredients are continuously added to one end and removed from the other. During this process, the emollient glycerin that naturally exists in soap is removed and sold separately for its moisturizing qualities. Commercial soap is nearly always made from tallow (animal fat) and usually contains a variety of synthetic chemicals. Because of the lack of glycerin as well as the inclusion of poor-quality ingredients and additives, commercial soap can often irritate and dry the skin, or can cause an allergic reaction. Sadly, even many hand-made soap companies use synthetic fragrances, preservatives and colors in their products.”

-Handmade Soap by Tatyana Hill

While mass produced soaps often use the term “antibacterial” as a selling point, 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. Additionally, many of our natural soaps are also antibacterial, thanks to many different sources of natural ingredients with antibacterial properties (like salts and certain essential oils).

Honey Carrot and Tangerine Face and Body Bar is a top five best smelling bar!

Apple Valley Natural Soap is carefully hand-crafted in small batches using the cold process method of soap making. We use only high quality botanical oils and butters as well as all natural herbs, milks, juices, essential oils and spices to scent and color our soaps. These ingredients not only impart sensational fragrances and beautiful, rustic colors, but also add their own exceptional nourishing qualities. Once you try an all natural soap, you will wonder why you ever used anything else on your skin!

Benefits of Apple Valley Natural Soap Natural Soap

We’ve worked extremely hard to achieve important certifications and standards that set our soaps apart.

CRUELTY FREE

We are certified by the Leaping Bunny organization and are excited to be in partnership with them.

ORGANIC & SUSTAINABLE

We aim to use as many certified organic ingredients as possible in our products, but have chosen (at this time) to not pursue Organic certification due to expense. Using sustainable ingredients is also very important to us, read more about our stance on Organic and Sustainable ingredients here.

GLUTEN FREE

There are many products in our store which do not contain gluten, but as we do not have a gluten free facility we cannot guarantee there will be no cross contamination. We then define these products as “gluten sensitive”. Find out more information here.

VEGAN

The majority of our products are vegan and we have identified these items in this category as such. Find out more information here.

Are Apple Valley Natural Soap Products & Packaging Eco-Friendly?

We are always looking for ways to improve the way we do business, and reducing our carbon footprint, becoming more Eco-friendly in what we do is important to us. Here are some of the ways we being conscientious about our environment:

• Soaps are wrapped in paper wrappers, not plastic
• ALL samples (soap, hair rinse, toner, sample packs etc) are mailed out in clear bags made from plant material which are certified compostable.
• 1st class packages are mailed in 100% Recycled Padded Paper Mailers
• Brown paper is used to package orders and sometimes recycled air pillows
• Recyclable cardboard is used for all shipments above 1st class, some shipments will also have a USPS recyclable padded envelope
• Glass is used where possible for products (and more products are transitioning away from plastics to glass) 

Are Apple Valley Natural Soaps Expensive?

If you do a Google search you’ll discover that we price our soap right in the middle of the pricing spectrum. Not only that, compare our ingredients, and you will discover that we use a FAR greater percentage of expensive, high-end oils, butters, organic herbs and spices, clays, milks and essential oils than our competitors. Frankly, we are amazed at the cheap ingredients much of our competition uses (soy and tallow for example) and the high cost of their products. You can be confident that at Apple Valley Natural Soap, you are getting the highest quality soap at the most affordable pricing. (Plus, for every seven bars you put in your cart, one will be FREE!). Many customers find our soaps superior to popular name brand soaps and other natural soap companies!

Natural Soap Bar For Men

“Excellent! I have converted all my L’il and Big men. Very sensitive to scented body washes like AXE or Old Spice. Now they can have awesome scent, luscious lather and no fuss as it is used everywhere. Thank you for a great product.”

-Satisfied Customer

“My husband typically has no interest in what he refers to as my “natural product kick.” He is not against it, but it has been difficult to find the products that he likes…let alone loves. This soap was a game-changer for him. He loves it!!! He will usually finish any product because he doesn’t like to waste things, but when this soap showed up, his Old Spice and Dove became neglected. The smell is amazing and it is so convenient for him to be able to use it as an all-in-one bar. We love Apple Valley!”

-Satisfied Customer

Coconut Milk and Citrus Smelling Natural Shampoo Bar

“Love it! I like it better than Chagrin Valley’s coconut milk shampoo bar. Bonus is this is nicely scented while theirs isn’t. This has a nice lather and light citrusy scent. Leaves hair and scalp feeling fresh and clean!”

-Satisfied Customer

Which Soap Will You Try Next?

Whether you exclusively use Apple Valley Natural Soap, or you’re hearing our name for the first time…the most important question of all is: which soap will you try next? We have over SIXTY DIFFERENT natural soap bars with unique scent profiles and super special benefits for your hair and skin. And if you don’t like soap? Well that’s okay, too. We have plenty of skincare and haircare products as well. If you have no clue where to start you can always take a look at my top favorites! You can also follow AVNS on Facebook and Instagram for our weekly featured soaps and Giveaway info (Valentine’s Day Giveaway is coming up!)

Much Love,

Nora


Crazy Facts You Didn’t Know About Pumpkin and Black Licorice

Pumpkin Spice is Back and so is Fall

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For the Minnesotan, fall is the perfect time of year. Not too hot, not too cold. The roads aren’t slippery and all of the trees explode in gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, and red. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches offer steaming cups of cider and old fashioned hay-bale rides and of course there’s the obvious: AVNS limited edition fall soaps are back in stock with Pumpkin Spice (even better than a pumpkin spice latte? You’ll have to find out), Black Licorice, and Spice Cake!

Yes, you heard right. Our mouthwatering fall soaps are ready for consumption and this time they’ve got a blog to go with them. While the popular scents of our fall bars seem like a no-brainer, there’s a fascinating history behind the popular fall ingredients we probably take for granted. This week I dug deep to learn everything there was about pumpkins and black licorice and I think their ancient roots and unknown beauty benefits will really surprise you.

The History of the Pumpkin

So who was the first person to say, “Hey, let’s scoop out the inside of this giant orange fruit, carve out shapes in its sides, and stick a candle inside!”? Thanks to an enlightening article on the History Channel Website, I learned that the first Jack O’ Lanterns originated in Ireland and were not made from candles in pumpkins but coals in carved turnips (pumpkins weren’t native to Ireland). According to a spooky Irish folktale, a man by the name of Stingy Jack (sound a little like a certain Mr. Scrooge?) made a string of deals with the Devil and when it came time for him to pass into the afterlife neither God nor the Devil were willing to open their gates to the stingy, conniving man. Instead, “The Devil sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since.”

Photo by Kasumi Loffler on Pexels.com

Whoa, that’s pretty spooky, and apparently the Irish thought so too because it became a tradition for them to leave their own carved turnips glowing brightly in their windows to ward off the spirit of Stingy Jack. I’m just thankful that the God I know is way more forgiving than the version in the story. And speaking of thankfulness, what about thanksgiving and pumpkin pie?

The History Channel filled me in. Pumpkins are native to Mexico and Central America, although they’ve been grown in North America for five thousand years. The first pumpkin pies probably looked more like sweet squash casseroles than the pie crust and custard filling we are used to today.

Beauty Benefits of Pumpkin

According to an article in MYSA for DIY Pumpkin Face masks, “Pumpkin contains vitamin A, C, and E, and antioxidants, which help fight sun damage and wrinkles. It also has fruit enzymes that help naturally exfoliate dead skin cells. Finally, it contains zinc and potassium to combat redness.” Our Pumpkin Spice Hand and Body Soap is stuffed with real pumpkin puree! If you love your pumpkin spice at Starbucks you’ll love this bar.

The History of Black Licorice

Today there seems to be two camps of thought, I’ve often heard it said that people who don’t like black licorice will not go anywhere near it, while people who do like it LOVE it. Is there really no in between? I guess I wouldn’t know since I absolutely LOVE black licorice and could not be more excited that AVNS has devoted an entire bar to the sweet, chewy black candy. It’s not all about the candy though, there’s more to Licorice than meets the eye.

For those who don’t like black licorice, maybe you’ll consider giving it another whiff when you learn that it holds a revered spot throughout history. 

According to blog written by the Candy Warehouse, Licorice can be traced through the following ancient dynasties:

“Great quantities were found with the fabulous treasures of King Tut, and other Egyptian rulers — for it was believed that the licorice could be used to prepare a sweet drink in the next world.”

“The Chinese (dating back 5,000 years) maintained that eating the root would give them strength and endurance. Licorice still holds a prominent place in Chinese herbal combinations since it is believed to harmonize with the action of other herbs.”

“Alexander the Great, the Scythian armies, Roman Emperor Caesar, and even India’s great prophet, Brahma, are on record endorsing the beneficial properties contained in licorice. Warriors used it for its ability to quench thirst while on the march, while others (including Brahma and venerable Chinese Buddhist sages), recognized licorice’s valuable healing properties.”

*Twizzlers and Red Vines are referred to as licorice, but do not actually contain licorice root. Please consider this before trying to add them to your beauty routine!

Beauty Benefits of Black Licorice

Photo by Right Light on Pexels.com

According to an article in Root Science, “The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice root help reduce skin conditions that cause: puffiness, rashes, redness, swelling, and itching.” Our Black Licorice Hand, Foot, and Body Soap is also made with black walnut, regarded to be useful in the treatment of skin diseases and complaints such as eczema, ringworm, athlete’s foot etc. It’s long been used as a natural remedy for acne, canker sores, psoriasis and other fungal infections.

Food For Thought

I hope you found the histories of these commonplace foods as fascinating as I did! I love learning about cultural folklore, how about you? Sorry there wasn’t much about spice cake, the origins and history are largely unknown except for sources dating back to ancient Egypt. At least there are plenty of recipes for spice cake available (or if baking isn’t your thing just go for the soap!)

Much Love,

Nora


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

What is a Brand Ambassador?

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

Apple Valley Natural Soap Brand Ambassador/Affiliate Program

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

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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

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

People don’t question me after that. 

Steps to Becoming an AVNS Brand Ambassador

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the basics of becoming a Brand Ambassador

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

Step Two: Set Up a PayPal Account

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

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

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

Step Two: Create Promotional Posts

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

Aww, look at my cute lil affiliate link!

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

My First Post

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

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

Why Be a Brand Ambassador for Apple Valley Natural Soap?

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

Much Love,

Nora


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

Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

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…

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

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.


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?

Everything You Need to Know About Castile Soap

How is my love for acting related to Castile soap?

When I play a character in a show, I not only get to fill their shoes, I also trace their footsteps. 

Here I am with my fellow actor Dah in our production of I Hate Hamlet. I absolutely loved my costumes for this show…I felt like a princess!

Because of this, I’ve travelled through a number of character paths that have taken me around the world: I’ve stolen a Commedia dell’arte romp through the winding canals of Venice, floated through the dreamscape of Charles Dickens’s London, explored the historical and haunted flats that make up the New York City skyline, and washed a peasant’s laundry in (and I think you’ll see where I’m going here) Castile, Spain.

Castile? Wait, isn’t that a type of soap?

You guessed it!

The history of soap

Early soaps were made from combining animal fats and plant oils with salt or ash. This primitive soap was used for cleaning cooking utensils and medicinal purposes rather than for beauty and personal hygiene. As soap making became more refined it also became more expensive because it required both technique and coveted family recipes. Prices only dropped after production became more mainstream when chemicals were introduced to simplify the process.

What is Castile Soap?

Castile soap has been around for quite some time, but unlike the first soaps ever made it does not contain animal fat or ashes. However, a traditional Castile soap is also free from modern chemicals used in most mass-produced soaps.

So if it doesn’t have chemicals or animal byproduct, what exactly is it made of?

Olive oil.

And I’m sure you already guessed where those olives were grown.

Spain exports the world’s majority of olive oil and the production of olive oil in Spain can be traced back about 3,000 years. Although Castile soap got its name from a specific region in Spain, Castile soap can be made with olive oil from anywhere…which has its disadvantages.

The benefits of olive oil in Castile soap

Because Castile soap is generally defined as soap made with olive oil, many companies can get away with using small quantities of low grade olive oil while still labeling the soap as “Castile Soap” This soap will not have the same benefits as a soap composed of high quality olive oil.

Now, the advantage of using olive oil from outside of Castile is that it allows us to pick from the best. In keeping with the origins of the first Castile soaps, our organic virgin olive oil is sourced mainly from the Mediterranean region. Our true Castile soaps provide a gentle cleanse and act as a nourishing moisturizer. Our virgin olive oil is chemical free and retains its vitamin content, the reason behind olive oil’s health benefits (especially vitamin E). Vitamin E protects skin from the damage of free radicals and can help alleviate symptoms of eczema.

We choose to go organic with our virgin olive oil and many of our other products to promote the protection of the earth and water from harmful pesticides and we want our Castile soap to do the same for your skin. Our Calendula Castile Bar is the perfect soothing solution for sensitive skin (babies would highly recommend it…if they could talk). Our Lavender Castile Bar will create a calming, creamy lather…perfect for shaving! I know I’ve got the Lavender Orange Castile Bar on my wish-list and I’ve got an audition for Antigone tomorrow so I’m ready to get into character (Greece likes its olive oil too!)

Wish me Luck!

Nora