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

I am slim, but tend to have abdominal fat. Suggest dietary tips.Chitra

You need to consult a doctor, not only about diet but also exercise. Try to bring about a gradual change in your diet. Avoid heavy desserts and stick to fresh fruits. Consume more of clear soups and salads before the main course. Cut down on fried and oily foods. Eat enough fresh fruits, salads, sprouts, curd made from skimmed milk, paneer, lightly cooked vegetables, fish and chicken. If you feel like a snack, go for fruit, carrot or cucumber. Make these tasty by adding lemon juice and chaat masala. For exercise, start with a daily walk and increase the distance and pace gradually. You can also take up stretching exercises or yoga.

My skin is clear and bright when I wash it, but, after some time, it becomes dark and oily.Varsha

You may be having oily skin. In humid weather, sweat makes the skin look dark and oily. Use a facial scrub two or three times a week. It helps brighten the skin. Mix multani mitti with rose water and lemon juice into a paste and apply it two or three times a week. Wash it off after it dries. During the day, wipe your face with wet tissues. It helps refresh the skin and remove oiliness. Then apply compact powder.

I am losing a lot of hair and want to have thick hair.Durga

Some of the reasons for hair loss are dandruff, oily scalp, stress, thyroid imbalance, illness, nutritional deficiencies or hair damage (caused by repeated dyeing, colouring, perming or straightening). Hair loss after pregnancy is also common. Try to identify the cause in your case. Apply a herbal hair tonic on your scalp daily, using cotton wool and leave it in. Part the hair into sections and apply the tonic on the scalp. Apply pure coconut or olive oil once a week, the night before a shampoo wash. Avoid massaging your head. If there is hair loss, it means the roots are already weak and massaging may only aggravate the problem. Diet is important. Eat a small bowl of sprouts daily and include fresh fruits, salads, leafy green vegetables, soya bean and curd in your diet. Ask your doctor to prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements.

My hair is very dry and looks dull. What should I do to make it look shiny and silky?Archana

You can have hot oil treatments, do the hot towel wrap and apply creamy conditioners after shampoo. Try the following tips. Mix some water with a creamy hair conditioner and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your hair. Then comb the hair, so that it spreads through the hair. Have a deep conditioning treatment once a week, before shampoo. Mix together one egg, one tablespoon castor oil, the juice of a lemon and one teaspoon pure glycerin or honey. Apply on the hair, wear a plastic shower cap and keep it on for an hour. Or, mix one egg with one tablespoon of mayonnaise and one teaspoon of olive oil. Apply the paste on yourhair. Leave it on for half an hour and then wash your hair.

I have dry feet and cracked heels.Nithya

For daily foot and heel care, massage your feet daily with pure almond oil before a bath. After a bath, apply a cream while the skin is still damp. This helps seal in moisture. Massage the cream into the skin. The feet will remain soft and smooth. At night, before retiring to bed, soak your feet in hot water for about 20 minutes. Add some coarse salt and shampoo to the water, before soaking your feet. Hot water helps soften dead skin on the 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, rubbing it well into the skin. Then apply the cream generously on your heels. Bandage your heels with clean cloth; then wear cotton socks and go to sleep. Repeat this every night for one week. Special preparations for the heels are also available, which may have an antiseptic effect and prevent infection. If there is any pain or bleeding, consult a doctor.