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Updated: May 26, 2010 16:52 IST

Ask Shahnaz

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Shilpa Shetty. Photo: AP
Shilpa Shetty. Photo: AP

Beautician Shahnaz Husain offers tips and answers queries. Send your queries to

I have normal skin, but it sometimes feels dry. Sharmila

Dry skin has a fine texture and feels taut after washing with soap. Very dry skin tends to flake. Oily skin has open pores and is prone to blackheads, pimples and acne. During the teenage years, the skin is usually oily, due to glandular activity. When you wake up in the morning, wipe your face with a tissue before washing or cleansing it. If the tissue is clean, you have normal to dry skin. If the tissue gets stained or greasy, you have normal to oily skin. Use different tissues for different areas, wiping your forehead, nose and chin with one tissue, and another to wipe your cheeks. This will help ascertain whether you have combination skin.

I have broken hair on the top of my head. Shwetha

The short hair may not be broken. It may be new hair. Each hair on the head is in different stages of growth. When one falls out, it is replaced by another. This is a continuous process. The use of very little leave-in conditioner or hair serum may help. Alternatively, after combing your hair, spread 2 to 3 drops of hair serum or oil on your palms. Smooth your palms over the hair. The short hair will not stand up and will blend with the rest of your hair. Diet is important for healthy hair growth. Eat a small bowl of sprouts daily and include fresh fruits, salads, leafy green vegetables, soy bean and curd in your diet.

Suggest a remedy to prevent body odour. Meghna

Use colognes generously. Colognes and Eau de Toilette consist mainly of water, with only 2 to 5 per cent of perfume. They are lighter and their fragrance lingers. They can also be added to bath water. Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) helps prevent body odour. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it under the arms. You can also add lemon juice to this paste. Leave it on for ten minutes, before washing it off. Or, mix a little baking soda with talcum powder and apply it under the arms, or on the feet. Potato slices can be rubbed on areas where odour forms easily. You can also add one teaspoon of alum to your bath water. Crush some mint leaves and add them too.

My hair used to be black, but it has now become brown. What should I apply instead of conditioner? Anitha

Mix castor oil and coconut oil in equal quantities. Heat the mixture and apply it on your hair twice a week, the night before a shampoo wash. Your diet should contain adequate protein, which is present in foods such as curd, cottage cheese, dal, beans, peas, soy bean, eggs, fish and chicken. Consult a doctor before making dietary changes. You can apply curd or egg half an hour before a shampoo wash. It softens the hair and adds body to it. Once a week, mix together one egg, one tablespoon of castor oil, the juice of a lemon and one teaspoon of pure glycerine or honey. Massage this well into your hair. Wear a plastic shower cap and keep it on for an hour, before washing your hair.

I am 19 and want to lose weight. Is swimming a good solution? How should I protect my skin and hair while swimming? Raji

Swimming is a good option, as it helps exercise most muscle groups. However, consult a doctor before doing any form of exercise. It is not possible to say how long you should exercise because it depends on an individual's metabolic rate, diet and regularity/duration of exercise. Seek professional advice at a gym. Wet your hair thoroughly before going for a swim. The hair is porous and can absorb only that much water and no more. Wet hair will not absorb chlorinated water. Rinse your hair after a swim. Apply a waterproof sunscreen 20 minutes before a swim, if you are swimming in an open pool. Massage your body with sesame seed oil daily before a bath.

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