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The aloe vera cactus has been esteemed by healers since the days of ancient Egypt, and its value to modern-day medicine is only being further confirmed as research into its 75 active ingredients uncovers more benefits across the well-being spectrum. Here are six excellent ways to use it for healthier, better-looking skin.

Antibacterial Moisturizer

Aloe vera makes an excellent moisturizer for your face and hands. It will gently hydrate your skin without leaving behind an oily film that can clog pores, while its antimicrobial agents including salicylic acid cleanse and rejuvenate. What’s more, using aloe vera as a daily moisturizer means that the many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds it contains can constantly work to keep your skin in perfect condition.

There are many commercial moisturizers on the market containing aloe vera, but a cost-effective solution is to mix a few drops of pure aloe vera oil or gel into a normal, non-medicated moisturizing cream and use as normal.

Anti-Aging Therapy

Although nothing can completely halt the march of time, aloe vera has been shown again and again to help reduce the more obvious signs of aging skin. Its moisturising properties help to lessen the visibility of surface wrinkles and lines, while its ability to repair damaged tissue at the cellular level helps to develop a healthy, supple foundation. Lastly, the two compounds aloin and aloesin both reduce inflammation, helping to prevent deterioration caused by exposure to sun, pollution, and harsh weather.  All this is of great benefit in keeping your skin looking healthier and more youthful.

Stretch Marks (Striae) Lightening

Rapid changes in the size of your body, whether through pregnancy or weight loss, can leave their legacy in the form of stretch marks, or striae as they’re medically known. As the skin expands and contracts, it suffers minor damage at a microscopic level, and this becomes visible as long, thin lines which are a different color to the surrounding skin. Applying aloe vera gel or cream to the affected area can reduce the swelling and start to heal the underlying tears, making the striae much less visible over time.

Natural Sunburn Remedy

Aloe vera’s natural anti-inflammatory effects also work as a treatment for mildly sunburned skin, reducing tenderness and also stimulating the regeneration of damaged cells in the upper dermal layers. While it’s always preferable to avoid over-exposure to the sun in the first place, and severe cases of sunburn should be treated medically, if you feel that characteristic tingling feeling after spending time in the sun then aloe vera cream makes a soothing balm to take the heat out of the situation.

Emergency Wound Treatment

As well as having a long history as a traditional remedy for skin problems, aloe vera has also been the subject of military research into the treatment of severe burns. However, it is also useful for much less acute injuries; creams and sprays containing aloe vera extracts are highly valuable as an emergency treatment for minor wounds such as shallow cuts or grazes. The antibacterial and anti-fungal ingredients will reduce the risk of infection, while the two hormones auxin and gibberellin work to reduce swelling and promote healing.

Acne and Pimple Reduction

Lastly, aloe vera is a strong ally in the fight against acne and other pimples. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties cleanse the skin and remove the germs and impurities that can spark an outbreak. Alongside this, its anti-inflammatory agents reduce skin swelling and help to shorten and reduce the severity of a flare-up. Concentrated aloe vera gel can be applied directly to a pimple or across an affected area, or it can be mixed with a moisturizer for daily preventative use.

The web is awash with claims that one plant extract or another can work miracles for skin care. However, aloe vera has the history and research to back up its promises. It’s widely available and has no significant side effects, and its value has been confirmed time and again. Shouldn’t you be making space for it in your own skin care regimen?

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How To Care for Cut Flowers

Do you grow the most beautiful flowers as part of the landscape and think, “Wouldn’t these look beautiful on the breakfast table?” And from the time you bring them inside the clock starts ticking because you know this simple farmhouse aesthetic is very short-lived. So how do you keep the flowers fresh for as long as possible? Let’s start with the way you cut the flowers, it makes a big difference. Use a shear or sharp knife and avoid smashing or tearing the stems. This interferes with the water uptake and can reduce the longevity of the flowers. Cut at an angle so the ends don’t sit flat on the bottom of the vase.

Steps to Take After Cutting the Flowers

Once you have cut the stems of your flowers, place them immediately into a clean container. Don’t be tempted to use a vase you just used without properly washing it, it may still contain bacteria that can multiply quickly and block the flow of water from the stems. Next, remove any foliage that lies below the water line. Decaying foliage shortens the lifespan of the flowers by contributing to the build-up of bacteria. Fill the clean vase with lukewarm water before placing the flowers in it.

At this point you can add either a flower preservative or this homemade recipe: 3 parts water to 1 part 7-up soda, plus a few drops of bleach. The bleach really helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria. A bit of sugar from time to time will help keep flowers smelling wonderful too. (Source: Huffington Post.)

Now since we’re talking about longevity, and as fabulous as a vase full of cut flowers looks in a bright sunny window, you probably should keep the flowers in a cool spot in your house and not expose them to direct sunlight. Also avoid placing the vase near hot drafts and heat from electrical lights or appliances as well. You may even want to consider placing your fresh flowers in the refrigerator overnight to extend their lifespan. Warm air and direct sunlight dries them out and speeds up the process of decay.

Continue to Recut the Stems

Cutting the flowers an additional one-half to one inch allows for a greater intake of nutrients as well. Plan to recut the stems every three days so they can continue to take in fresh water. Additionally, make sure that you change the water and add more flower preservative or the bleach and 7-Up mixture at the same time.

You took the time to plant, grow and care for your favorite flowers. Go on, bring those lovelies inside if you want to. They will brighten up your home for sure.

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