You may recognize Megan Mussari's company, Apprvl, from our recent Facial Cloth collaboration. Apprvl is a handmade brand specializing in natural dyeing, and offers a range of vintage goods and handmade, hand-dyed crafts. Jess and Megan met through the NYC artisan community and ran into each other regularly at small-business markets and through mutual friends. Jess is a fan of natural dye methods, and had always envisioned creating a facial cloth that matched our Vitamin C Facial Mask—one that wouldn't stain when removing the treatment. So when it came time to create that special cloth, Megan and Apprvl were a perfect fit. We sat down with Megan to discuss dye processes, skincare, avocado pits, and more!
From FIT to Apprvl
"I went to FIT for fashion design and was working for a luxe sleepwear company after college. I was doing the dyeing for our sample yardage to show to buyers, and I started to feel sick from using all the synthetic dyes. I started to explore natural dyes, and how people were creating color on fabrics before synthetic dyes were created. I started with indigo, which led me into this massive world and history of natural dyes, and that's where Apprvl came from. It started out as a personal project, and then I made an Instagram account and got some custom orders, and it kind of snowballed. I wanted to use my design background to create fashionable, cool products that are made with natural dyes, and show that fashion can be sustainable."
Some Favorite Natural Dyes
"There's a lot of great wood dyes that I don't think people know about, like logwood creates a really nice purple. There's also some roots, like turmeric is a common root for dyeing, and madder root, which creates a nice pink. And I like to use cochineal, which is an insect you find on Nepal cactuses. The cochineal I use are ethically sourced, and produce this pretty pink-y red color."
"Cutch, which is what we used for the Palermo facial cloth, is one of my favorites to work with. It comes from the heart of the acacia tree and it's just such a versatile dye. I use it to create a tan/brown for my products, but it can go into a deeper terra cotta red or you can make it more of a yellow/beige, And it smells really good, which is a perk. It kind of smells like marshmallows when you boil it."
Creating the Palermo Facial Cloth
"We started off using a mixture of cutch and madder root to get this kind of reddish color, and then washing it in iron to make it dustier. But it wasn't quite the right shade, so I tried removing the madder root and just used the cutch with soda ash, which reacted to make more of a soft, pink-y terra cotta shade. And it really matches the color of the Vitamin C mask! I think it's such a smart idea. I personally love having white linen, but I never use them to take off face masks or makeup because I don't want to mess them up. So I love the idea of having something very specific for taking off a mask."
Natural Dyeing - How Does the Color Stay?
"Natural dyes only work on natural fibers. I love natural dyes, but most of them don't stay in fabric very well on their own, so you need to mordant the fibers, or "pre-treat" them. I use aluminum acetate and it basically just handholds the dye. I do a longer process than some people—I think that it helps hold the dye. I let the pieces sit in the mordant bath for at least 24 hours, and then I dye them and let the dye sit in there for another 24 hours."
"I feel like I was really bad with skincare for a while, and now I'm really trying to figure out what works for me. I started using some more natural products, and I was using some AHAs and BHAs to handle my hyperpigmentation. I've been very heavy on the sunscreen, especially on my face. And I love a carrot seed oil. I do gua sha, that's kind of new for me, and was using a micro-current tool for a little while. It's funny, a while back my sister gifted me some Palermo products and I was like 'Oh, I know Jess!". I have a few of the Palermo soaps and the Vitamin C mask, which I love."
Kitchen Dyeing 101
"Natural dyeing is very fun, and also extremely easy to get into. Some common, easy kitchen dyes are turmeric, onion skins, and avocado pits—which make a really pretty orange-y pink color."
"For at-home mordanting, if you don't have aluminum acetate you can just use a vinegar and water solution. It won't stay as long as a professional mordant, but it will definitely help the color stay longer. For an easy avocado pit dye, just wash off all of the avocado goop and let the pits dry on the counter. Then boil them in a pot of water and you'll see that pink color start to come out. Then just add whatever you want to dye into the pot. And the color stays well—I dyed a pair of jeans with avocado pits and have washed them multiple times without the dye coming out!"
We hope you enjoyed this peek into the fascinating world of natural dyeing! You can find our Facial Cloth in our Mother's Day gift sets, available for a limited time. And check out Apprvl for more of Megan's beautiful work!