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Nothing says summer like the fragrance of warm lavender flowers carrying on the breeze. But this popular plant isn’t just a treat for the senses. It also has many uses in health and well-being and is particularly good for treating skin problems.

These complexion-improving properties have been enjoyed for centuries. However, they’re becoming even more relevant today, as people increasingly turn to natural remedies rather than chemical-packed creams.

One of the best ways of using lavender is through its essential oil. This convenient liquid concentrates the medicinal properties of the plant to give many wonderful benefits for your skin.

Important Note:

For most people, lavender oil is completely safe. Occasionally, though, people with sensitive skin can experience a mild allergic reaction. Because of this, before using lavender oil for the first time, mix a drop or two with an equal amount of coconut or olive oil and dab it on to your wrist. If you have no reaction, you can safely use lavender to treat the following problems.

1) Soothe Sunburn

It’s easy to get a little too much sun, even if you’re careful to always use sunscreen. If you notice the distinctive tingling of mild-to-medium sunburn, add a few drops of lavender oil to a neutral moisturizing cream. Spread this mixture across the tender area to soothe the irritation and reduce the inflammation. For double the effect or to treat harsher burns, add a few drops of aloe vera gel as well to promote healing.

2) Allergic Rashes

If an allergy gives you an itchy rash, lavender’s powerful anti-inflammatory action will help dispel the symptoms. Mix one part lavender oil with eight parts of a neutral carrier such as olive oil and gently apply to your skin three times a day until the irritation has been soothed.

3) Acne and Pimples

Lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties also make it ideal for dealing with breakouts of acne and pimples, quickly reducing the swelling and irritation. Even better, lavender also has antibacterial effects to help to clear the underlying infections that spark breakouts. Mix a little lavender oil into your usual moisturizer and leave on overnight to see results within a couple of weeks.

4) Bee Stings and Insect Bites

Applying diluted lavender oil to a bee sting or insect bite can provide fast relief from the pain and also reduce the swelling in the hours that follow. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties will speed healing and help prevent scarring. If you have multiple bites over a wider area, for example, from mosquitoes, then consider making a spray using 10 drops of oil to one cup of pure water.

5) Bug Repellent

Lavender also makes a great bug repellent to help prevent stings and bites in the first place. Simply mix enough oil into plain water to make a fragrant spray, and use it on exposed skin whenever you’re planning to go outdoors.

6) Treating Wounds

Lavender’s antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory actions make it ideal for emergency treatment of minor wounds, cuts, and scrapes. It also has a mild analgesic effect, which soothes the pain. However, be sure to dilute the oil with a neutral carrier, as applying pure lavender oil to an open wound can be painful and slow down healing.

7) Relieve Dry Skin and Dandruff

A combination of lavender and olive oil makes an effective treatment for dry skin and dandruff. The antimicrobial characteristics of the lavender help heal any underlying infections which cause flakiness, while the olive oil locks in moisture and tones your skin.

Lavender is one of nature’s skin superheroes. Whether you use it to treat specific problems or apply it daily to keep dryness and bacterial swelling under control, your complexion will show the benefits this essential oil can bring.

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Should You Be Using A Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

If you’re tuned into the natural hair movement at all, you’ve heard a lot of talk about sulfates over the years, mostly about how terrible they are. According to many curly hair gurus, hair products that contain sulfates can strip all of the moisture from delicate curly hair, resulting in dryness, frizz and damage. But lots of shampoos contain sulfates. Are they really all that harmful?

The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are both pros and cons to sulfates, and understanding how they work will help you figure out the right shampoo for you.

What Are Sulfates, Anyway?

Sulfates are detergents. They’re the ingredient that makes your shampoo lather into that satisfyingly sudsy consistency. They’re in all kinds of products, not only shampoo but also soap, dish detergent, toothpaste and tons of other foam-y products. The most common sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate.

Sulfates are certainly harsher than natural cleansers — they really get in there and clean. All that lather results in a squeaky-clean feeling. By the same token, they strip the skin and hair of much of its moisture and oil.

Who Should Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

The problem with sulfates is that they can be too stripping. Your hair needs some amount of oil and moisture to feel and look healthy. This is especially important if you have hair that is dry, fragile, kinky, curly or coarse. By using sulfates on your hair regularly, you set yourself up for a game of perpetual catch-up, trying to restore the moisture from your hair that your shampoo keeps taking away.

Sulfate-free shampoo is also useful for people with delicate skin, since the ingredient can cause redness or irritation.

Lastly, if you have dyed hair, consider switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates strip the dye from your hair prematurely.

Sulfate-free shampoo isn’t for everyone, though. If your scalp tends to be quite greasy or oily and needs to be washed often, sulfates could work wonderfully for you. Also, if you have dandruff or another scalp condition, you’ll definitely want to stick with a shampoo with sulfates and other active ingredients to cut down on the flakes.

Alternatives to Sulfates

Some people enjoy using products with sulfates simply because it’s satisfying — you get a rich lather, and it feels like it’s easy to get clean. Other products may require more scritching and scratching. However, sulfates are just one of several “surfactants” that lather up. Others, like cocobetaines (derived from coconut oil) have a similar effect and are not quite as harsh.

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