Ask Shahnaz

Beautician Shahnaz Hussain offers tips and answers queries. You can send your queries to

I grow aloe vera in my house. Enlighten me about the uses of the plant. — Sasirekha

Aloe vera helps moisturise and soften the skin. An anti-oxidant, it helps preserve the skin’s youthful qualities and keeps it healthy. The aloe vera gel is the leaf pulp or mucilage, obtained from the inner portion of the leaves. The aloe juice is found just beneath the outer skin of the leaves. The gel or juice may be applied directly on the skin. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and wash it off with plain water. One has to exercise perfect hygiene. Wash the leaf well before taking out the gel or juice. In cosmetics, the stabilised aloe vera gel or juice is used.

I have oily skin with dry hair. How often should I use henna and have fruit facial? What should I mix with the henna? I don’t have grey hair, but I want a nice colour. — Raaga

For oily skin, you should not have any facial massage. You can apply fruit masks. Ripe papaya pulp helps oily skin. You can add cucumber, pineapple, apple, orange or banana. A fruit mask can be applied at least three times a week. Henna does not colour dark hair, but it will add shine to it. Add four teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, two raw eggs and enough curd to the henna powder, mixing it into a thick paste. Apply it on the hair and wash it off after an hour with plain water. If you do not wish to use egg, add more curd. Have weekly henna treatments.

Suggest a remedy for dark elbows and knees. — Kalyani

Daily, before taking a bath, rub lemon pieces on the elbows and knees. Wash it off with water and then apply pure almond or til oil and massage it into the skin. After the bath, apply a cream while the skin is still damp. This helps seal the moisture. A cream containing lemon and turmeric would help.

My sister has dandruff and lice. How can she get rid of them? A friend of mine has itchy itching scalp, and flakes fall off when he scratches the head. He says it’s not dandruff. Please suggest a remedy for it. — Mary

Your sister should apply vinegar on her hair and scalp. After an hour, run a fine-toothed comb through her hair comb with a fine lice comb and get the nits (eggs) removed by hand. Vinegar loosens the nits and they become easier to remove. Then wash the hair using a mild herbal shampoo. Use less shampoo. After shampoo, add two tablespoons of vinegar to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse. Comb again with the lice comb. Do this daily for a week. Have weekly henna treatments.

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