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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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How to harvest honey

Bees are a worthwhile investment for any homesteader. Although it comes with great payoff, beekeeping has a learning curve. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect when harvesting honey from your bees.

Step 1: Access the hive

Most beekeepers use a smoker to safely access the hive to harvest honey. Smoke the entrance of the hive and remove the lid, smoking the top. This pushes bees away from the area you’ll be working in. Gently remove the cover; you may need to use a special tool to pry it off if it’s covered in beeswax.

Step 2: Remove bees

To harvest honey from a frame, you’ll need to remove bees from the area. There are multiple methods for this, but the simplest is a DIY bee vacuum. Place the honeycomb frames in an empty frame holder as you collect more honeycomb. Once you’ve removed the frames you want, reseal the hive and replace the bees. Remember to always wear protective beekeeping gear!

Step 3: Remove wax

The precious honey is sealed up inside the protective beeswax. You can remove these beeswax caps with a butter knife, or you can also purchase a specialized capping knife. Tip: Save this beeswax to make homemade candles; it smells amazing.

Step 4: Extract and store honey

For this step, you’ll need a tool called a honey extractor. This gadget spins the honeycomb and collects it at the bottom of a drum. Open the spigot on the drum and filter the honey through a sieve and cheesecloth. Filtering prevents wax and other debris from finding its way into your honey.

Once filtered, the honey is ready to be bottled and enjoyed. It can be stored in Mason jars, where it can be safely kept on a shelf for up to two years. But we have a feeling that it won’t last that long!

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