Shahnaz Husain, renowned and acclaimed pioneer of the beauty movement, answers some of the common questions concerning beauty and care

Q. I never leave my hair open, because it is very dry and difficult to manage. Also it does not grow long. Please suggest remedies.
A. The average rate of hair growth lengthwise is half an inch per month. If the hair is curly or frizzy, the growth may not show that much. Apply a leave-conditioner or hair serum to make the hair more manageable. Or, mix some water with creamy hair conditioner and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the hair. Then comb the hair, so that it spreads through the hair. Twice a week heat pure coconut oil and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. Use a mild herbal shampoo. Use less shampoo and rinse well with water. After shampoo, apply a creamy conditioner, taking less quantity and massaging it lightly into the hair. Leave on for 2 minutes and rinse off with plain water.
Q. My brother is 26, with dark complexion and oily skin. What can he do to lighten colour?
A. After cleansing, he should apply an astringent lotion. Or mix cucumber juice and lemon juice in equal quantities and apply daily on the face. Wash off after 15 minutes with plain water. This would help to lighten skin colour too. Use a facial scrub twice a week. Apply on face and rub gently on the skin with small circular movements. Wash off with water. Mix multani mitti with rose water and lemon juice into a paste and apply on face three times a week. Wash off when dry. It reduces oiliness and also lightens skin colour.
Q. How to maintain good skin?
A. You should look after the skin according to skin type and individual problems. Buy products for cleansing, toning, moisturising according to skin type. If the skin is dry, apply nourishing cream daily at night, massage it on the face with slightly upward and outward movements. Wipe off with moist cotton wool. Include fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouts, yogurt in your diet. Drink plenty of water, have adequate sleep and regular exercise after consulting your doctor.
Q. Please tell me the remedy for cracked heels.
A. Apply almond oil daily before bath. Immediately after bath, apply cream and massage it into the skin while the skin is still damp. Apart from daily care, try this one-week’s intensive treatment. At night, before bedtime, soak your feet in warm water for 15 minutes, after adding some salt. Then scrub the heels with a pumice stone or heel scrubber. Avoid metal scrubbers. Then apply cream and massage into the skin. Next, apply the cream generously on the heels and bandage them with a clean cloth. Wear cotton socks and go to sleep. This really helps to soften the skin. Do this every night for one week and see the difference.
Q. My scalp is oily and I am losing my hair a lot. Which shampoo and oil is good for hair?
A. Oily hair and scalp can lead to hair loss. Apply non-oily herbal hair tonic on the scalp daily, using cotton wool and leave on. Avoid massage. Part the hair in sections and apply on the scalp. Avoid oil applications. Wash the hair 3 or 4 times a week, with herbal shampoo, using less shampoo. Rinse well with water. Only one application of shampoo is enough. After shampoo, add the juice of a lemon to a mug of water and use as a last rinse. Apply egg white on the hair 15 minutes before shampoo. It helps to reduce oiliness. Diet is very important. Have a small bowl of sprouts daily and include fresh fruits, salads, leafy green vegetables, soyabean, curd, in your diet. Add the juice of a lemon to a glass of water and have it first thing in the morning. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Ask your doctor to prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements.
Q. I am 14 years old. You normally recommend cleansing, toning, moisturising for the skin. Please suggest a good moisturiser.
A. At the age of 14, the skin may be normal to oily. In fact, it can also be prone to pimples during the teenage years. You can apply a moisturising lotion only if the skin feels dry, but add a few drops of water before application for a lighter coverage. Or, mix half teaspoon pure glycerin with 50 ml rose water and keep in an air tight bottle in the fridge. Apply a little of this lotion after cleansing. You can cleanse with glycerin soap or face wash twice a day. After cleansing in the morning, apply rose water using cotton wool. This would help to tone the skin. If the skin is oily, mix rose water with astringent lotion in equal quantities and apply on the face after cleansing.