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Handy Tips for Summer Skincare

After a long, cold winter, the arrival of warmer weather is a welcome excuse to throw off the layers of clothing and enjoy the feel of sunlight on your skin. However, the summer months pose challenges for skincare, and if you’re not careful you can end up with more than a healthy glow to deal with. Here are five summer skincare tips to keep your skin looking radiant.

Pay Attention to Hydration

Keeping your body properly hydrated is vital for skin health during the summer months. Not only is the temperature outdoors higher, but air conditioning makes for a drier atmosphere indoors. Both of these factors mean you need to keep up your liquid intake if you want to avoid flaking, chapped skin. Get into the habit of taking on small amounts of water throughout the day, but also be careful of overindulging in coffee or alcohol – both of these have a diuretic effect which can quickly leave you dehydrated.

Moisturizer and Face Masks

Although drinking plenty of water is extremely important, moisturizer also plays a vital role in stopping your skin from drying out in the heat. Apply it to your face and hands as part of your morning beauty routine, and also before bed to stop overnight dehydration. It’s also a good idea to top up your moisturizer levels if you feel thirsty at any point during the day, as your skin will suffer the effects of dehydration before you’re consciously aware of it through thirst.

Your daily moisturizer regimen can also be reinforced by treating yourself to a weekly facial treatment. A good choice is a mask formulation including natural yogurt, which has strong hydrating properties to promote smooth, supple skin that better withstands the summer sun.

Use Exfoliating Scrubs

Hot weather can play havoc with your skin’s pores. Dust, sweat, grime, and the build-up of pollution can all leave residues behind, no matter how carefully you wash. A regular exfoliation routine, using either a shop-bought scrub or a homemade one using your favorite essential oils, will leave your skin feeling fresher and healthier as well as reducing the risk of pimples and acne.

Take Care in the Sun

Not so long ago a suntan was seen as a sure sign of healthy skin, but today the picture is a little different. The link between sunburn and skin cancer is well established, but even lighter over-exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause the unwanted appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and a leathery texture in your complexion.

Whenever a sunny day is forecast, ensure that you wear protective sun cream as a matter of habit, even if you don’t plan to spend time soaking up the rays. As little as twenty minutes in full sun can cause mild burning, while even ambient or reflected light can be harmful if you don’t take precautions. Ordinary high-factor sun cream is a perfectly good option, but to kill two birds with one stone, why not consider using a moisturizer with built in ultraviolet protection?

Repair Sun Damage Quickly

If you do happen to catch a little too much sun, you should take action as soon as possible to minimize and repair the possible damage. Applying a moisturizer infused with aloe vera will help to soothe inflammation and swelling, while also reducing the chances of your skin flaking and peeling as it heals. It’s important not to wait for visible signs of sunburn such as blistering, but to use the moisturizer as soon as you notice the distinctive tingling feeling that comes from over-exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Your complexion is a vital part of looking healthy and youthful, and it’s the canvas on which all your beauty efforts are painted. Taking good care of it by following these tips will ensure your skin copes with the challenges of the summer weather, leaving it soft, smooth, and with a beautifully vibrant glow.

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A Rose by Any Other Name is a Hellebore

by Gail Kavanagh

Do you want the pleasure of a garden in bloom all year round, even in winter? Look no further than the hellebore, a 3000 year old flowering plant known as the Winter Rose. In Asia, where it originated, the roots were dried and ground to be used as a medicine, but no herbalist would recommend this today as hellebore root is toxic. But as a color feature in the garden, especially in the shady but bare areas beneath trees, hellebore is unsurpassed.

The evergreen shrubs come in several different varieties to suit any purpose, but all share a fairly tolerant nature. Hellebores don’t need much pruning, are happy in places that don’t get much sun and are easy to propagate by dividing the clumps after the flowering season. Just make sure you wear protective gloves in case your skin is sensitive to the roots.

The most common species of hellebore are Helleborus Orientalis and Helleborus Niger. These are also known, respectively, as the Lenten and the Christmas Rose because of their flowering times.

The Lenten Rose, or Helleborus Orientalis, is a compact plant producing large flowers around Easter. The variety of blooms is spectacular; some are soft purple and pink, others are white and green; some are spotted with red; some are striped with other shades. The flowers are good for cutting and look stunning in a vase or flower arrangement. Being such a hardy plant, they will last as cut flowers for a week, especially if you dip the stems in boiling water before arranging them.

The Christmas Rose, or Helleborus Niger, is the one that gives fresh white flowers in the heart of winter, perfect for Christmas decorating. It needs more care than the Lenten Rose, which is a far more hardy plant. But added to these two basic varieties are newer hybrids, which have an even wider variety of color, and a wider range of types suitable for different conditions. One variety, known as Honeyhill Joy, is Helleborus Niger and Corsican Hellebore hybrid, and performs well in cold weather, providing blooms from midwinter into spring.

Traditionally, Hellebores love cool, moist conditions, and need extra care during the summer. For older varieties, plenty of shade is a must, and they need to be kept moist and well mulched to stop the soil around them drying out. But there are newer hybrids, like H.xballardiae which are more tolerant to hot climates. It is always worthwhile to shop around, and discuss with your local plant expert what varieties you can cultivate in your planting zone.
Hellebores can be propagated by seeds as well as clump division, Sometimes you will notice seed pods forming in the center of the flowers. You can catch these seeds by putting a paper bag over the flower, and use them to propagate more plants. However, the plants grown from seed will take several years to flower, so the method of dividing the clumps is better if you don’t want to wait that long.

You don’t have to fuss over hellebores as long as they are happy where they are planted. If they thrive, they are happy, and will flower profusely with little attention required. There will always be a welcome spot of color in the garden, as well as a regular supply of glorious cut flowers for the home.


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