Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ingredient Spotlight: Henna

Henna is the common name for the shrub Lawsonia inermsis. The plant is best known for its green leaves, which when dried, powdered, and mixed into a paste, are used for skin and hair dying. Other common names for the plant are the Mignonette tree, Egyptian privet and Mehndi. This plant grows as a native shrub in Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Palestine and  Syria. There plants may reach 8 to 10 feet high or more. The henna plant can also be grown in the United States in USDA growing zones 9b, 10a, 10b, and 11. The plant likes full sun and needs to be taken inside when the weather gets cold. I grew this plant in Daytona Beach for a while. It was growing really well for a while, but if I recall right I did not give it enough water. The plant can also be grown indoors. Cultivation is possible from cuttings or seeds.

Henna is used decoratively and medicinally in India. As a skin dye henna is popular as a wedding body decoration particularly for brides. The bride's hands and soles of her feet are painted in elaborate fertility and floral designs. This plant is also used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine for treatment of skin irritations such as heat rash. Henna leaves and flowers may be applied in external preparations to inflamed skin conditions including burns, boils and sores.

The henna powder was used in ancient times is a hair dye in countries where it grew natively. In the late 1800's it also became popular as a hair colorant in Europe. By mixing the henna with other herbs different shades of color can be achieved, for example Indigo powder can be added to darken the color. You can check out our latest blog post to learn how to dye hair red naturally with henna.

Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Dye Hair Red Naturally with Henna Powder

Dying hair with henna is easy to do. I will explain the steps to dye your hair with henna in this blog post. We like using henna as a hair dye because it conditioning to the hair. Regular chemical hair dyes damage the hair cuticle. Henna is also is very compatible with our shampoo bars and diluted vinegar rinses. As hair dye, henna works best on lighter colored hair. Aquarian Bath is now offering powdered red Henna for hair dying, which is what I used to dye Tessa's hair (above).

How to Dye Hair with Henna

Preliminary precautions: Some people are allergic to henna. If you have never used henna before, then it is best to do a patch test on your skin. Make a patch test on the inside of your wrist with a little bit of henna mixed with water. Wait 24 hours to see if your skin has a reaction. If there is no reaction then you can begin the process below for dying your hair.  

Hair Prep: For best results, start out with clean dry hair that has been brushed and divided into smaller sections with clips. It is a messy job, so try to get help from a friend if you can. Wear your old work clothes, or black to avoid staining good fabrics.

8 oz of red henna powder now available at Aquarian Bath
Ingredients: The first step is to put your henna powder in a bowl with the juice of one half of a lemon and 1 tablespoon of oil such as Extra Virgin olive oil or grape seed oil. If you do not have lemon juice you could use vinegar instead. The lemon juice or vinegar helps the henna color stay in the hair for a long time. For short or thin hair you may only need a couple ounces of henna. For longer or thicker hair you will need more henna. Eight ounces works for my shoulder length thick hair. You can start out with a moderate amount of henna add more to the bowl if it looks like there is not enough. 

Form a Paste: Mix the henna, lemon juice and 1 T of oil with enough hot or boiling water to form a paste with the consistency of a creamy soup. At this point you need to decide if you have enough henna paste in your bowl to completely saturate your dry hair. If you think there may not be enough henna paste to completely cover your dry hair, then add more henna powder and water. Let the paste sit for around 30 minutes to allow the lemon juice to react with the henna powder.

Coat the hair evenly and wait: Next apply the henna paste to your hair completely covering each strand down to the roots. Avoid applying the paste to the forehead and around the ears and neck, because the henna paste will also stain the skin temporarily.  Leave the henna paste on your hair for 30 minutes to 2 hours. The longer you leave the paste on your hair the stronger the final hair color will be. You can freeze any leftover paste in a jar for future use.

 Rinse clean: Here is Tessa's hair after approximately 30 minutes of dying.

Wash as usual: Here is her hair after a couple of washes.  You can see that the bright orange fades out to a more natural looking color.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Hemp-Organic Cotton Canvas Hot or Cold Therapy Pillows

Aquarian Bath is happy to offer more heat or cold therapy flaxseed pillows in this new canvas single layer fabric. This pinstripe fabric is made from a blend of hemp and Organic cotton which is exceptionally soft and sturdy. At this time we have these pillows in candy striper red and white or tan and white, perfect to match with cottage chic decor.  We hope to add blue and white later this year.

These pillows have again proved to me their practicality in design and functionality recently. Aquarian Bath pillows are loose and free-form without sections they can wrap easily around any injured area of the body not just around the neck and shoulders. Last week I fell while gardening and severely injured my arm. The physician's assistant at the ER gave me a diagnosis of a sprained elbow. She recommended ice on my arm for 20 minutes at a time, 4 times a day. It was nice to have the pillows on hand in our freezer, because they were not damp and leaky like the "leak proof" ice pack from the hospital. The flaxseed pillows of course do not get as cold as a water filled ice pack, however there is no risk of an ice water leak in your bed while you are injured. Also the flax pillows felt very soft and flexible compared to the solid ice packs and chunked-ice packs which felt too hard and painful on my swollen arm.  I also tried using an old experimental pillow which had corn instead of flax filling. The corn-filled pillow was too painful to use on the tender inflamed areas because corn kernels are large and hard. 

My arm is still healing. I have been using Speech Notes for longer emails and this blog post.  I can still sew and fill orders, and am hoping to regain all of my flexibility and strength.  I had to stop making soap, so if you need our original Ocean Waves sea salt soaps, you might want to pick one up. We will likely have a wait time for those soon.  

~ Cory Trusty, president

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

North Hollywood: Best Vintage Dressed prize from Aquarian Bath

Aquarian Bath is sponsoring one of our customer's special events in North Hollywood this weekend, January 24th.  If you are in the area ladies, put on your best vintage outfit, and head over to Tonya Kay's Pinup Pole show for vintage cars and dance performances from Tonya's crew. You could win first prize shown below, which includes an Orange Lavender shampoo bar, Hemp Oil soap, Henna shampoo bar, Lavender Patchouli Perfume, 2 cedar soap decks, a Vanilla Chai soap, a Eucalyptus, Lavender Tea tree Lip balm, and Lavender Spearmint Salt soap.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blue Springs Manatee Photos

We took a half day off from work at Aquarian Bath to visit the manatees at Blue Springs last week.  Hope you like the photos that Scott and I took. Scott took the under water photos with his Gopro. 

Favorite spot for an annual photo.

Scott got these images of the nursing manatee with his "Gopro on a stick" contraption.

I helped him get these shots when I saw other manatees about to swim by by giving him direction where to turn the pole as he was laying down on one of the docks, "6 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 3 o'clock."

We probably saw a dozen altogether.  You can watch them during the winter on livestream:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Payne's Prairie Gators

This is the second set of Payne's Praire photos from Gainesville.  Pictures by Aquarian Bath's VP, Scott Johnson. We didn't really get so close to the alligators. Scott took the pictures with a tripod and a camera with a zoom lens. Winter is a great time of year to visit Payne's Praire, because the gators are cold and not moving much at all.

Look out!  This alligator's tail was in the walking path. We almost didn't see it. 

Thanks for looking. I'll be posting manatee photos soon also.  

Cory Trusty, president

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Payne's Prairie Winged Wonders

This beautiful collection of photos are from Payne's Prairie in Gainesville Florida. They were shot by Scott Johnson, our VP at Aquarian Bath. I will save his gator photos for another post! We also saw wild pigs and a buffalo. Hope you like the pictures.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Two New Organic Cotton Pillow Fabrics.. and What's Next?

Last year we learned a lot about Organic cotton and Organic cotton fabrics, and how much pesticide is needed for the conventional cotton crops, way more than non Organic fruits and veggies. Because of this, our goal was to sell out of conventional cottons by the end of 2014.  We've found this goal to be more challenging than we thought, and though we have nearly eliminated the conventional cottons we still have some for sale. On the positive side we have significantly increased our selection of Organic cotton pillows. Most of these, however, are the more expensive double layer pillows, because most of the Organic cottons that are available are in thin broadcloth or quilter's weight cotton. These cottons we make into pillow covers, and sell together with a white pillow base made with Organic cotton and hemp. Our newest fabric options are shown above (pink) and below (blue floral). 

Sadly the most popular Organic cotton canvas pillow fabric, the line leaf blue canvas (below), has been discontinued. We scoured the internet for the last remaining yardage, and probably have enough fabric to last through Mother's Day. The Organic canvases are even more rare than the light weight Organic cottons. Everyone loves this fabric and I was prepared to start out my first wholesale order from Cloud 9 with a few bolts of line leaf to be stocked through the end of 2015, but sadly Cloud 9 has no plans to restock it. Why is it so complicated? Organic cotton makes up only 1% of the cotton market. Even cotton growers have a hard time finding Organic cotton seed. 

Line Leaf Blue Canvas Flax Pillow unscented $21 or scented options $22.99+
Below, here is one quilter's weight fabric that is also very popular for from Cloud 9.  I'm not sure if the popularity is due to the cute print, or a twitter fanaticism. The fabric is called "Tweety Tweet." This fabric definitely makes the list for bolt 1 of 4 for my initial wholesale purchase from Cloud 9. 

Organic Cotton Pillow with washable cover unscented $26 or scented $26.80+

I would love to have your feedback about these brand new fabrics up top (pink with white and blue floral), and also check out the ones below that we are considering for this year. These are all Cloud 9 Organic cottons coming out in 2015. Some are canvases and some are light weight.  If you like these fabrics, love them, or hate them, please let me know. I would appreciate the input. I would have never bought the tweety tweet fabric, but my daughter Moira wanted it for Organic Kitty Land, so I just got a bit to try and it was a hit.

The 4 best Organic Canvas options for Summer 2015 are shown below. Canvas is what is most in demand, because a single layer means that we can keep the price lower, and they are easy to spot clean. Some people make single layer pillows with thinner cottons, but they wear out faster.  We are not willing to compromise on the fabric thickness; we only want well insulated sturdy fabric that is made to last. I like these cloud canvases in turquoise and navy the best, but they don't thrill me like the line leaf blue though.

What do you think of these prints?

This grey and white print above is not a fabric that I would choose for myself, but it is a nice design, and also is available in gold and white. It is growing on me.

As for the above green and white print, meh, again it is not something I would choose for myself. It is also available in turquoise or grey. That is about it for new Cloud 9 Organic canvases becoming available in 2015, which makes me sad. I would love to hear positive or negative feedback about the 4 listed above.

I am more hopeful about these two quilters weight cottons below. They are from the new "Biology" collection at Cloud 9, and they thrill me. In my former life I was doing biology research at the University of Washington.  How do you like these prints? These fabrics would be used for the more expensive line of pillows with washable cover and interior pillow made with hemp and organic cotton canvas.

How do you like the new fabrics? Can't wait to hear your feedback.  

Thank you,
Cory Trusty, Aquarian Bath