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

I have brown patches (melasma) on my face.Nandini

Apply a sunscreen with a high SPF before going out in the sun. Mix rice powder with curd and use it as a facial scrub once or twice a week. Apply it only on the dark patches, rubbing the skin gently with tiny circular movements. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off. Mix honey and lemon juice in equal quantities and apply it daily only on the dark patches. Wash it off after 15 minutes with water. Twice a week, apply a face mask. Mix three teaspoons of oatmeal with one teaspoon each of honey, curd and lemon juice, or egg white. Apply it on the entire face, avoiding the lips and the area around the eyes. Wash it off after half an hour.

I have oily skin. What skincare routine should I follow? What's the difference between an astringent and a toner and how are they used?Priya

Wash your face in the morning and night with a face wash or cleansing lotion for oily skin. Rinse your face with water several times a day. Apply an astringent lotion, using cotton wool. Astringent helps reduce oiliness and closes the pores. It will also tone the skin. A toner stimulates blood circulation on the surface of the skin. You may buy an astringent lotion at a cosmetic store. Or, mix rose water with cucumber juice and apply it on your face. Wash it off with water after 15 minutes. Apply a day cream for oily skin. A facial scrub may be used twice a week for deep pore cleansing. Facial scrubs are easily available nowadays. Apply it on your face, rubbing the skin gently. Wash it off with water. Mix multani mitti with rose water into a paste and apply it on your face three times a week. Wash it off after it dries. Use only oil-free products. Include fresh fruits, salads, sprouts and yoghurt in your daily diet. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Add the juice of a lemon to a glass of water and drink it first thing in the morning.

I am of medium weight, but my arms are big. Suggest exercises for slim arms.Sandhiya

After consulting your doctor, do the following exercises daily. Stand with your feet slightly apart. Stretch your arms out to the sides, palms facing upwards. Rotate your arms in small circles, clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Repeat the exercise 10 times each and increase the number of times gradually. Then, stand in the same way, with your palms facing upwards. Clench your fists tightly. Stretch your hands out as far as possible hard, spreading out the fingers and thumb as wide as possible. Repeat this exercise 10 times, then repeat it another 10 times with your palms facing downwards.

I have dark circles under my eyes. Applying slices of cucumber daily has not helped. Suggest homemade remedies.Sumita

Some of the reasons for dark circles are hereditary, besides nutritional deficiencies, stress, inadequate sleep and sun-sensitivity. So, along with external care, you should check these aspects. Apply pure almond oil sparingly (very little quantity) around your eyes daily, massaging the skin lightly, using only your ring finger, for one minute under each eye. Massage it in one direction only. Leave it on for 15 minutes, wiping it off gently with moist cotton wool. You can also mix cucumber juice and potato juice in equal quantities. Apply it daily under your eyes for 20 minutes. Wash it off with water. Before going out in the sun, apply a sunscreen lotion sparingly under the eyes. Add a drop of water to it before applying it, for a lighter coverage.

Since relocating to Bangalore, I have been suffering from cracked heels.Monica

At night, before retiring to bed, soak your feet in hot water to which coarse salt has been added, for about 20 minutes. Hot water will help soften the dead skin on your heels. With the help of a pumice stone or a heel scrubber, rub your heels gently, to remove the dead cells. Avoid metal scrubbers. After washing your feet, massage them with a good cream. Apply the cream generously on your heels. Bandage your heels with a clean cloth; then wear cotton socks and go to sleep. Repeat this every night for a week. Special preparations for the heels are also available; they have an antiseptic effect and prevent infections.