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You won’t find apple cider vinegar in the beauty aisle, but this health staple has plenty of uses for both skin and hair. Here are some of the 5 most common ways to use apple cider vinegar (ACV) in your beauty regimen.

Cleanse your scalp

ACV cleanses the pores and removes build-up from your scalp. It’s great to use as a regular, gentle treatment to give your hair a break from being weighed down by products. To use ACV as a cleanser, mix 1/4 cup of ACV with two cups of water. Massage it into your scalp and let it sit for five minutes before rinsing.

Use as a facial toner

Diluted apple cider vinegar makes for the perfect facial toner. As an astringent rich in alpha hydroxy acids, it minimizes pores and prevents acne breakouts. Mix the vinegar with water in an equal ratio, and use the solution after cleansing your face.

Condition your hair

It’s unusual that one ingredient can both cleanse and moisturize, but ACV actually does both. It closes hair cuticles, restores your hair’s natural pH level and softens hair. Some hair types can even skip regular conditioner after doing an apple cider vinegar rinse. The vinegar also reduces frizz and defines your hair. For best results, boil a cup of water with 2-4 tablespoons of vinegar to make a rinse.

Alleviate dandruff

Chronic dandruff is both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Apple cider vinegar is a natural alternative to harsh shampoos. In addition to cleansing some of the build-up from your hair, it prevents future outbreaks by acting as an anti-fungal agent. Even better, it doesn’t strip the hair the way that regular shampoo does, so you can safely use it a few times per week. Make sure to leave it on your scalp for several minutes to see effects.

Whiten your teeth and nails

Teeth stains are caused by coffee, tea, and wine, while nails often become yellow because of exposure to the sun or excessive nail polish use. Apple cider vinegar can remedy both of these issues due to its high acid content. It’s also antibacterial.

To whiten your teeth gradually, use a mixture of one part ACV with three parts water. To whiten your nails, soak them for a half-hour in a solution of 1/2 cup ACV with 1/2 cup water.

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Chocolate Mint From Your Garden? Yes!

Ever wished that chocolate grew on trees? The next best thing would be to grow it in
your garden, among your culinary herbs. That is possible, thanks to the seemingly
endless diversity of the mint family.

As its name suggests, chocolate mint is a herb that tastes like an after dinner mint. It
shouldn’t exist, but maybe it does because Mother Nature thought – “Hey! Let’s try that!”
She’s female, after all. But the fact is that it tastes wonderful and is so easy to grow that
you use it any time you want (or just chew on the leaves while you are gardening).

It does have a look of chocolate with brown-tinged leaves, but not everyone agrees that
it deserves the name. There is a controversy about the chocolate taste – is it real or not?
The general consensus among lovers of this herb is that it is definitely different from
other mints, with an underlying richness that works with a variety of recipes. According
to the Canadian nursery Richters, the herb has a striking ‘peppermint patty’ scent that
convinced them to stock it.

Try your local nursery, which can probably order it for you, or you can get it online.
When you do get your hands on one, you can stick it virtually anywhere in the garden,
because it is so hardy. It prefers cooler zones and afternoon shade but potting this plant
is best because it is also enthusiastically rampant, like most mints, and virtually
impossible to kill. Even a mint that tastes like chocolate can become a nuisance when it
invades every part of your garden.

The temptation to plunder the leaves will be strong from the fragrance alone, but let it
get some growth on before you start ripping them off. As soon as there is some decent
growth, start by trying chocolate mint tea. Just strip a few leaves, bruise them gently to
release the vital oils and drop them in a tea pot. Pour over hot water and steep for five
minutes – done! To make it even more delicious, add it to coffee for a mocha treat or
strain and add hot milk and marshmallows. You can dry the leaves like any other herb
and crumble them for flavoring cookies, cake or ice cream.

If you love chocolate liqueur, you can make your own by cramming chocolate mint
leaves into a large bottle and pour over enough vodka to fill it up. Leave in a cool dry
place for a month or two (the longer you leave it the more delicious it gets) then strain
and enjoy a sip on February 19 – that’s National Chocolate Mint Day and a great excuse
to celebrate!

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