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Updated: March 10, 2010 16:33 IST

Ask Shahnaz

Shahnaz Hussain
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Namrata Shirodhkar
Namrata Shirodhkar

Beautician Shahnaz Hussain offers tips and answers queries. Send your queries to askshahnaz@gmail.com

I have oily skin. If I apply cream around my eyes, a rash appears on my cheeks. Recently, I noticed pores on my cheeks. —Sharmishtha

Cream should not be applied around eyes at night and left on. Since the skin is oily, it may be prone to rash as the cream clogs the pores. Mix multani mitti with rose water and lemon juice into a paste and apply it on the face twice or thrice a week. Wash it off when it is dry. Oily skin is also prone to pores. Twice a week, mix oatmeal with egg white and apply it on the areas with open pores. Wash it off when it dries.

Please suggest tips for hair growth. Will castor oil help? Ambika

Yes, castor oil is said to encourage hair growth. However, it suits dry hair more. Once or twice a week, mix one teaspoon of castor oil with one tablespoon of pure coconut oil, heat it and apply it on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze the water out and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for five minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and the scalp absorb the oil better. Wash the hair using a mild herbal shampoo and rinse well. Avoid tying the hair back tightly. Diet is very important for hair growth. Have a small bowl of sprouts daily and include fresh fruits, salads, leafy green vegetables, soyabean and curd in your diet. Ask your doctor to prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements.

How do I take care of my skin during summer? Also I want to know whether my weight is correct for my height, which is 5'5”. I want to increase my height. Taruni

Cleansing is important during summer to remove the dirt, sweat and oil deposits from the face. Rinse well with plain water several times. Use a facial scrub twice a week. It helps deep pore cleansing and removes dead skin cells. Refrigerate rose water in a bowl. Soak cotton wool pads in it and wipe the skin with them. This refreshes the skin during summer. Include fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouts, clear soups, lassi and curd in your diet. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water. For a height of 5'5”, the ideal weight should be between 57 kg-61 kg, depending on bone structure. Height is dependent on hereditary factors. It is said to increase till the age of 18 or 19. However, you can ask a yoga expert if yoga will help increase height.

I applied honey on my face for about half an hour and washed it off. I noticed a rash on the upper cheek bone. It disappeared after a few hours. Also, I apply a sunscreen with SPF 30. Should I apply a moisturiser first? What are the things to remember about sunscreens? Shilpa

You have not mentioned your skin type. Honey is actually a natural humectant i.e., it attracts moisture to the skin from the atmosphere. It should not cause a rash. Perhaps, your skin is sensitive. You can apply it for 10 to 15 minutes only and then rinse with plain water. Honey can also be mixed with egg white or lemon juice or milk, depending on the skin type. Most sunscreens have built-in moisturiser. Unless your skin is very dry, there is no need to go in for a moisturiser. Sunscreens should be applied 20 minutes before sun-exposure.

How many reetha nuts should I take to cleanse long hair? Will it cause dryness and make my hair brittle? Srimathi

Reetha is said to be a gentle cleanser. It will not make the hair brittle. However, adding other dry herbs such as shikakai and amla would make a better hair cleanser. Take a handful each of dried reetha, shikakai and amla. Add them to one litre of water and allow them to soak overnight. The next day, simmer the herbs with the water on a low fire, till the water reduces to half the quantity. Do not boil it on a high flame. Allow the mixture to cool. Strain it and use the liquid to wash your hair. This quantity should be enough for four washes. Refrigerate your homemade hair cleanser for further use. Make small quantities at a time.

I have hair loss. Please suggest ways to straighten my hair at home. Sweety

For straightening hair, chemical lotions and direct heat applications are used. Since you already have hair loss, these procedures may aggravate the problem. Use a hand-held dryer at home to straighten hair. The effect will last till the next shampoo. After washing the hair, divide it into sections while the hair is still damp. Hold the end of each section with a comb or brush. Holding it straight and slightly downwards, use the hand held dryer to dry the hair. Repeat this with each section. Hold the dryer at least six inches away from the hair. Also note excessive use of the hair dryer can cause dryness.

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