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

My hair is straight but it has suddenly become curly over the last four months. Suggest home remedies to straighten it. Latha

The use of a creamy conditioner can make your hair softer and smoother. Use a hand-held dryer at home to straighten your hair. The effect will last till the next shampoo wash. After washing your hair, while it is still damp, divide it into sections. Hold the end of a section with a comb or brush. Holding it straight and slightly downwards, use the dryer to dry your hair. Repeat this with each section. Hold the dryer at least 6 inches away from the hair. Note that excessive use of the dryer can make your hair very dry. The use of conditioners will remove dryness.

Whenever I go swimming, my skin gets dark. What should I do to prevent this?Vaishnavi

Exposure to the sun in an open pool and the chemicals in the water such as chlorine can darken the skin colour. Apply an anti-tan sunscreen lotion 20 minutes before you go for a swim. Massage your body daily with mustard oil before a bath. Twice a week, mix rice powder with curd and a little turmeric and use it as a body scrub. Rub the mixture gently on the body and then wash it off.

I have whiteheads on nose and chin. I underwent treatment to remove them, but they have re-appeared.Gayatri

Since the pores are not open, whiteheads are difficult to remove. A proper cleansing routine is important, according to the skin type. The use of facial scrubs helps discourage white heads. If your skin is dry, use the scrub once a week and only on the areas with whiteheads. For oily skin, scrubs can be used more often. Some home remedies may help. Make a paste of fenugreek leaves and apply it on your face daily, washing it off after an hour. Grated potato or potato juice may also be applied. 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. Drinking barley water is also said to prevent whiteheads.

I have a lot of small pimples. Also, my skin becomes oily and dark.Aishwarya

Wash your face twice a day, morning and night with a medicated soap. Then wipe it with an astringent lotion, using cotton wool. Mix a little rose water with sandalwood paste and apply it on your face. Wash it off after 15 minutes. Boil neem leaves on a low flame. Cool and strain the liquid. Make a paste of the leaves and apply it daily on your face. Wash it off after half an hour. Mix multani mitti with rose water and lemon juice into a paste and apply it daily. Wash it off after it dries. It will help get rid of pimples and lighten your complexion. Avoid creams and moisturisers. 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 work night shifts and eat out. As a consequence, I’m developing a paunch. Suggest some tummy trimming exercises.Vinay

Join a gym. Lose weight under professional guidance. Or, learn yoga and practise it daily. After consulting your doctor, do the following spot-reducing exercises for your abdomen daily. First, lie on the floor on your back, feet together and arms at the sides. Lift your legs around six inches above the ground and hold this position for a count of ten. Then lower your legs to the floor. Repeat this exercise 3 or 4 times, increasing the number of repetitions gradually. For the second exercise, keep lying on the floor, the same way. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Raise your body to a half-sitting position, stretch your arms outwards in front of you. Lower your body to the floor and repeat the exercise 3 or 4 times.

What should I do to make curly hair smooth and straight? Aarthi

Hair straightening can be done at a beauty salon, in which chemical lotions are used. At home, try applying a little creamy conditioner after a shampoo wash. It helps soften and smoothen the hair. Or, mix some water with a creamy hair conditioner and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your hair. Then comb your hair, so that it spreads right through. Don’t wash your hair with hot water. After a shampoo wash, wrap a towel around your head and allow it to absorb the water. Avoid rubbing your hair.