Belly Up to a Body Bar


Several weeks ago I told you about shampoo bars from Apple Valley Natural Soap. Well I’ve also started using their body bars, and love those as well. My skin hasn’t felt this clean, soft and moisturized in ages and it never feels like there is any residual on my skin. My favorite (so far) is the Coconut Soap Bar. It lathers up really well, which is important to me as I shave in the shower and find it difficult to do that if a soap doesn’t lather well but this bar is amazing. It doesn’t have much of a scent, which is fine, I’m happier with the sudsing. There are also shaving specific bars for men.  It also seems like the bars last a long time. My husband and I are both using the bar, and I had really expected we’d have gone through it by now, but there is a lot left, and we started with only a half bar!  While their regular items are great, they also have items that are seasonal but be aware that seasonal means “when they’re gone, they’re gone.” I’ve just ordered some winter bars with extra moisturizers in them, which most of us that live in the midwest are desperate for this time of year.  The other bar that I love is their Kitchen Salt and Spice Bar. This is fantastic for washing your hands after you’ve worked with onions or garlic to get the smell off. I keep it next to the sink on a soap mat so that it doesn’t get all mushy. (Those little soap mats are fantastic too, I have 2 in the shower!)

I also recently ordered Vanilla Tangerine whipped body butter, and oh my God. I can’t decide if I like this more because it makes my skin feel awesome, or for how it smells. When I first put it on, I could swear I smelled chocolate and my husband thought it smelled like fresh cookies. After I looked at the ingredients again, I realized I was smelling the cocoa butter and thought, yeah, that’s what’s making me want to lick my arm. Repeatedly. It’s like a slice of heaven in winter, and I just ordered a second tub of it. Their Shea Butter is great too, although it’s different than the body butter. I am using that more on my hands to try to keep winter dry skin at bay. It’s more like a semi-solid but softens up with the warmth of your skin.

The company works hard at being eco friendly and sustainable. Their packaging reflects that – my cousin ordered some liquid Castile hand soap (that smelled unbelievable), and it came in the most unique packaging, made out of bamboo and sugarcane pulp. It’s 98% biodegradable, according to their site. I have also ordered a Christmas edition of the liquid hand soap, and if you’re a fan of foaming soap they say right on the site you can dilute their soap to work in foaming dispensers. The other thing that is unique about them is that so far for me, at least, each order has come with a small sample of a soap. So far each one has been unique, and has been something I haven’t already tried. I don’t know if that’s coincidence or careful planning and smart marketing, but from what I have been able to pick up about Marianne so far I’ll go with careful planning and smart marketing.

This is a great site on which to do some Christmas shopping. They’re great at making sure if something is out of stock they apply a banner stating that and some things are but there are lots of things in stock. I wouldn’t suggest waiting too long or the limited edition/seasonal offerings will be gone.  If you go to the section for gifts you can also purchase a gift box and you’re shopping is done! Order now and avoid the Christmas rush, and also ensure that it will arrive well in advance of Christmas. Plus get some goodies for yourself…you deserve to be pampered, and this is a fine way to do it. Curl up with a book, a cup of cocoa after you’ve slathered body butter over yourself and bask in the scents.


A New Way to ‘Poo…Shampoo That Is!

Several years ago, I attended a silent auction/fundraiser for my niece’s sorority. They did a brunch every year, a kind of mother-daughter event with invitations extended to friends, close relatives, etc. I remember one year the speaker was a classmate of hers, a very young woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her talk was informative, educating us on the BRCA2 gene, as well as some surprising risk factors. One of those risk factors was something called Parabens, which are commonly found in things like shampoo, conditioner, liquid soaps, etc. While I paid attention to her, I also didn’t make any changes to my personal care routines.

About 6 weeks ago I was reading some random articles and found an interesting one that has made me rethink my choices about personal care, initially for a different reason. The article was about using shampoo bars, and why they make so much more sense than traditional shampoo. First, traditional shampoo is primarily water, and second, it’s packaged in a plastic container. So, you’re paying for something you don’t need, and getting it in a package you need to throw away (or preferably recycle, but realistically, most people don’t do that.) I started thinking about it, and figured what the heck, why not try it. The speech from my niece’s classmate came back to me, and since we have some rare cancers in my family I thought it would be smart from the perspective of my health.  I was really lucky to discover that one of the companies featured in the article is not only local for me, but 15 minutes from my home.

Apple Valley Natural Soaps has a wonderful variety of shampoo bars, body bars, lotions, rinses, and other natural care products. They also have an informative blog to help you understand the products and how to select the right one, their philosophy of caring for yourself with natural products, and a great business model. After doing some research, I dove in. I ordered several different samples of shampoo bars ($3 each) and a soap mat (use one of these for your soap so the water drains off and doesn’t make your bar all mushy) and started using them.

Do you remember the last time your hair was actually squeaky clean? I didn’t, but from the first time I used their bar, my hair squeaked. Literally, squeaked. It took a couple of times of washing for my hair to settle in but it’s at the point now where I have minimal tangling in the shower, or afterwards. I don’t use a traditional conditioner anymore either, just their acidic rinse once a week. That’s all. My hair is so crazy soft. Why I waited so long to change to shampoo bars is beyond me. Now my biggest problem is picking out the right bar. (One thing to be aware of, these shampoo bars don’t work unless you have soft water, and I definitely noticed a difference in sudsing when our softener salt was low.)header 7

One of the things I love about this company is that it’s doing well enough to have a great variety of products, but is small enough that the owner, Marianne Buck is involved and hands-on with all parts of the business. Last week I sent her an email with a recommendation for an addition to the information about her shampoo bars, and a few hours later she had not only responded but said she liked the idea and would work on implementing it. And if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, she offers local pick up so that you can save on shipping. Their turn around time is quick too, which is nice. They’re also very customer centric – after I placed my order, I realized I’d selected the wrong shampoo bar, and as I prepared to email her about it, I got the email that my order was ready. I sent Marianne an email anyhow and asked if she would be willing to change out the bar, and she replied that she was more than willing to do that. I had also let her know when I ordered that I was getting the Camping bar for my husband, as he was preparing for a camping trip, so could I have it by a certain date? She filled my order in plenty of time for me to get it for him to bring along.

I don’t know about you, but companies with outstanding customer service are rare, and Apple Valley Natural Soap definitely is one of those. In the interest of full disclosure, I did sign up to be an affiliate with them, but only because I really love these products, if you hadn’t figured that out already. If you’ve thought about trying a shampoo bar but weren’t sure if it was something you’d like, give this company a try. All of the reviews I’ve read have been outstanding. Buy some sample bars to try them out and see what you think. Click here to go to the site. I’d love to hear if you try out their products and what you think.