How to Achieve the Perfect Shave in Under Ten Minutes

We’ve all been there

It’s a frigid Tuesday, the most unassuming day of the week. Sweater weather is in full swing — even though it’s February — and snow swirls in gusts outside your window. You’ve just lit one of your favorite candles and are curled up on the couch pretending to read a good book while you secretly binge-watch “Grey’s Anatomy” (Season three) for the seventeenth time. Nothing like the perfect night off.

Then it hits.

The unexpected need to shave

Your husband comes home determined to whisk you off on a spur-of-the-moment romantic date. The girls call, you haven’t seen them for ages and they’re getting together tonight for pedicures. You’ve been promising your kids you’ll take them to the community center pool and tonight they’re not taking no for an answer. You spring into action, but as you’re pulling out the cute black dress, pedicure appropriate khakis, or kid-proof swimsuit — the thought hits you: when was the last time I shaved my legs?

Next thing you know, you’ve stripped off your fluffy pajama pants and staring up at you are your two, hairy Chewbacca legs. You’ve literally been caught with your pants down and you only have ten minutes to achieve the perfect shave.

There are those of you who do not shave, I applaud you. Smooth legs are a preference and they may not be yours and that is okay because your legs are beautiful with or without hair and you know it. While I would someday like to grow my leg hair out long enough to knit around myself, I cannot resist the feeling of freshly shaved legs against smooth sheets. For those of you who feel the same way — let’s figure out how to get you and your smoothest legs out the door in the next ten minutes.

How to get smooth legs quickly

Step One: Let ‘em Soak

As tempting as it is to give your legs a one-second splash before you get razor crazy, you’ll actually benefit from a longer soak. According to Dr. Christy Rainey, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, the warm water will open your skin follicles, leaving your hair shaft better exposed for a closer shave.

Step Two: Exfoliate First

Exfoliating is the best way to prep your skin for a smooth shave. After you’ve soaked for a minute or two your top layer of skin will be soft. When you exfoliate, you gently remove all the grime and dead skin that has accumulated on the surface of your skin, clogging your pores. Removing the build-up will let the razor glide over your skin and the circular motion of your exfoliation will help position your hairs upright so that the razor can cut them. The Sweet Rosehips Body Polish is a gentle scrub that will leave your skin smelling sweet and feeling soft.

Step Three: Lather Up!

Once your bristles are ready it’s time to get the soap out. I used to rely on shaving cream and let me tell you, more times than not I’d end up reaching for an empty aluminum can of disappointment. Left with no choices, I’d resort to whatever cheap body wash someone else had abandoned and often times it left me with dry, scaly legs. Thankfully, you can eliminate waste and double up by simply using an AVNS body bar. The Rosemary Lavender Coconut Bar or Wildflowers Coconut Bar can be worked up into an incredibly thick and luscious lather, will last longer, give you a natural cleanse and provide additional moisture.

Step Four: The Razor Race

At this point, it’s up to you. You know your legs and you know how to shave them. Long, even razor strokes and frequent razor rinses will keep you from getting burns and cuts.

Step Five: Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize.

The body scrub I mentioned above is fantastic because it often a provides a two-in-one exfoliant and moisturizer. But if you’re heading out into the frozen tundra and are prone to dry, winter skin, you’ll need to lock in all the moisture possible. Using one of our Lavender Lotion Bars or Lavender Vanilla Baby Butter will not only give you baby-soft skin, the organic lavender essential oil we use may also help heal and protect any micro cuts left by your razor. 

Step Six: Stock Up

You never know when the unexpected may strike. Having products ready will prevent you from having to undergo the dreaded dry-shave. But guess what? As thrilling as the unexpected is, you never need a reason to pamper yourself other than the fact that you deserve it!

Much Love,

Nora


I’ve Got a Golden Ticket (To Apple Valley Natural Soap): how we make our natural soap

Chocolate factory…or Natural Soap factory?

If at first glance you mistook the photo above for a thick block of delicious chocolate fudge, don’t worry, I did too. Believe it or not, that’s actually the Salted Chocolate Sink Bar…so even if you can’t sink your teeth into it, you can still give your hands a good lather. The Salted Chocolate isn’t the only AVNS soap bar that looks good enough to eat, in fact, just browsing the AVNS website makes me feel like a kid in a candy store, and let me tell you, meeting Marianne for the first time felt a little like shaking hands with Willy Wonka himself.

I love chocolate, so it’s no surprise that I adore Rohld Dahl’s classic tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve always envied Charlie Bucket, the young hero who visits the mysterious and alluring chocolate factory and is swept into a whimsical adventure as he becomes privy to the secrets and inner workings of the fantastic factory.

While Charlie’s journey allows readers to peer into the fantastic world of Wonka’s factory, today I’ll be giving you the inside scoop on the process behind making our scrumptious soap!

Soap needs to be clean in order to clean!

You can have a giant factory with a bazillion hallways and rooms and a giant chocolate-churning fountain…or just a simple kitchen, but no matter where you set up, both Wonka and Marianne will agree that an important step in the creative process is cleanliness. When Augustus Gloop falls into Wonka’s chocolate river, Wonka is more distraught by the thought of contamination than he is about Gloop’s safety. The spaces where AVNS soap is made undergo scrutinous sterilization to ensure that the purity of each product remains intact.

Combining and balancing ingredients

The next step in soap making is to create a recipe. Great soap calls for a great recipe. The base ingredients lye and water are combined. The oils and butters are also combined as they gently melt at the correct temperature. Any delicate, heat-sensitive oils are added secondarily. When both the lye and oils are at the correct temperature, they are blended together until light trace (soap talk for the absence of oil streaks in the mixture). Finally, any essential oils and herbs are added and the soap is poured into molds.

As any chocolatier or “soaplatier” will tell you, attaining the correct balance of ingredients is essential. After Augustus Gloop gets sucked up the chocolate pipe and carried away to the fudge room, Mrs. Gloop panics at the thought of her son being turned into fudge. However, Mr. Wonka (knowing that Gloop would unbalance his recipe) reassures her he will not allow this to happen, “’Because the taste would be terrible..Just imagine it! Augustus-flavoured chocolate-coated Gloop! No one would buy it” (Dahl).

Can you imagine? Salted Chocolate Gloop Sink Bar? No, thank you.

The setting and curing process

One of my favorite parts in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is when Violet Beauregarde steals a stick of gum from Wonka’s Great Gum Machine and starts chewing. Wonka tries to warn the greedy girl that his recipe is premature, but Violet does not heed his warning and before she knows it, she begins to swell like a blueberry while consequently turning a violent shade of violet. Using our soap will never turn you into a blueberry because like Willy Wonka, we know that timing is everything. After the soap is poured into molds it sets for 12-36 hours and then cures for another 2-6 months.

What matters most

Willy Wonka prides himself on the inventive and exotic origins of his candy creations, but what is most important to him — and what Charlie learns during his visit — is that at the end of the day, what really matters most is the chocolate.

AVNS has an impressive selection of unique soaps, all different and all hand made…but when stripped down to the core, there is a greater mission at hand. All of AVNS soaps are biodegradable, meaning that every ingredient used in an AVNS bar of soap can be broken down by microorganisms. This natural form of decomposition is eco-friendly, making our soaps like the Organic Coconut BarsOrganic Castile Soap Bars and the seasonal Camping Bar great (and packable) for your camping expeditions!

Although the Salted Chocolate Sink Bar is inedible, it does have a little Wonka-esque trick up its sleeve: it doesn’t contain added scent. The minimal ingredient list allows the natural scent of delicious organic cocoa butter to smell for itself! This isn’t the only unscented soap bar, many of our natural and organic soaps use minimal ingredients to cater to both the environment and sensitive skin. Our Calendula Castile Bar is only composed of saponified organic extra virgin olive oil and organic calendula petals, that’s a peace-sign amount of ingredients!

By using minimal, natural ingredients to make our soap, AVNS aims to promote peace: both inner and with the earth. I’d pick that kind of peace over a piece of chocolate any day.

P.S. Although our soap looks good enough to eat (and is Gloop-free) please do not nibble!


The Natural Benefits of Mint You Never Knew About

Mint is everywhere

Buying toothpaste is probably one of the most mundane errands in existence. You can stand in the dairy section of a store and spend half an hour picking out which flavor of ice cream you want, but visit the toothpaste shelf, or even the entire dental hygiene aisle and you’ll be overwhelmed by one flavor: mint. Considering this minty domination, it’s no surprise I’ve always taken mint for granted…until I started college.

How mint saved me from spiders

I lived in a triple room on an all-girl floor my Freshman year of college and we had a communal bathroom with shower stalls (they were the size of telephone booths, I kid you not). One day halfway through first semester I was on my way to shower when I noticed a funny bit of grey fluff on my comforter at the base of my bottom-bunk. As my hand fluttered down to flick it off, eight thick legs unfolded from around the fluff and the fluff itself began to scuttle. My hand shot back and I kicked up my legs as I gave a loud, surprised shriek as I realized that the grey fluff was actually a big, grey spider. Not one of those wimpy, spindly things, but an armored tank of a spider who had claimed my bed as its own and was willing to go into battle if I refused to surrender. Even now I feel slightly chilled thinking about it.

Once I knew my bed was not spider resistant, my small, cozy room became a scary, spidery place. In my imagination, spiders lurked everywhere. In my pockets, under my bed, and in my shoes. I was living in terror, so I did what any smart, terrified girl would do…I called my parents.

For the rest of the week I dreamed of all the heavy duty traps and snares my mom would bring me to defeat the spiders. I pictured mini spider cages with steel bars so strong no amount of extra legs could bend them and web weakener serum that would discourage the spiders from building webs anywhere near me. I was a little disappointed when my mom showed up armed with only two sticky traps and a little bottle of…what?…peppermint essential oil?

“Peppermint repels spiders,” my mom said.

Huh, sure it does

Despite being skeptical, I took my mom’s advice and for the rest of the year I crawled under my bed once a week and dispensed a few drops of peppermint oil along the baseboard of the wall. My roommates thought I was crazy, but I never saw another spider in my room.

Now, as to whether the spiders fled in response to the peppermint oil or just sensed a hostile vibe in the room and decided to skedaddle will forever be a question that keeps me up at night, but rest assured that there are some things I do know about mint.

What is Peppermint?

While we all know and love peppermint for its instant aroma of winter cheer, what you maybe didn’t know is that peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and water-mint…that makes it like the golden-doodle of plants, right? Containing organic, Fair Trade peppermint essential oil from India and spearmint essential oil from Indonesia, both the Juniper Mint Castile Soap and the Matcha Mint Soap provide a big scrubba-dub-dub of rejuvenation. Did I mention that the Matcha Mint Bar also includes a refreshing measurement of matcha magic?…a matcha made in heaven!

How mint works to benefit skin

The rejuvenating quality of mint comes from the compound menthol. According to U.S National Library of Medicine, menthol triggers a specific receptor in our skin and the reaction is a cool-sensation. This creates a soothing feeling, which is especially great if you’re looking for the perfect exfoliation!

Toothpaste may be boring, but AVNS makes mint fun. You can choose from an amazing selection of minty combinations (including Rosemary Mint and Grapefruit Mint) and if you use a body or shampoo bar containing peppermint –like the Peppermint Tea Tree Shampoo Bar — who knows? You might even repel spiders! Only one way to find out!