Shahnaz Husain, renowned and acclaimed pioneer of the beauty movement, answers some of the common questions concerning beauty and care:
Q. I have a horribly flaky scalp. I use very little shampoo, yet the problem persists. Please help.
A. Apply non-oily herbal hair tonic on the scalp daily, using cotton wool and leave on. Wash your hair with a mild herbal shampoo three or four times a week, using less shampoo and rinsing very well with water. Half an hour before shampoo, apply two tablespoons vinegar on the scalp, massaging it lightly into the scalp. Once a week, heat olive oil or til oil and apply on the scalp at night. Leave on overnight. Next morning, apply the juice of a lemon on the scalp 15 minutes before shampoo. Include fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouts and yogurt in your daily diet. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Add the juice of a lemon to a glass of water and have it first thing in the morning.
Q. Does climbing stairs reduce belly fat? If so, how many times should I climb?
A. Climbing stairs would help to burn calories and lose weight. However, to reduce the abdomen you need to do spot reducing exercises. After consulting your doctor, try the following exercises. Lie on the floor on your back, with feet together and arms at the sides. Lift the legs about six inches above the ground and hold the position for a count of ten. Then lower the legs to the floor. Repeat this 3 to 4 times and increase gradually. For the second exercise, keep lying on the floor, the same way. Bend the knees and keep feet flat on the floor. Raise the body to a half-sitting position, holding the arms stretched out before you. Lower body to the floor and repeat 3 or 4 times. Or, you can learn yoga and practice it daily.
Q. Is the use of vinegar is good for hair? Can I use conditioner and vinegar at the same time? If so, what is the procedure?
A. Vinegar helps to restore the normal acid-alkaline balance of the scalp. Harsh shampoos, pollution, sun-exposure, etc., can disrupt the normal balances. Vinegar also helps to reduce dandruff. If your hair is dry, or if you have dandruff, you can apply vinegar on the scalp with cotton wool 15 minutes before shampoo. After shampoo, apply very little creamy conditioner only on the hair and not on scalp. Leave on for 2 minutes and wash off with water. Or, you can apply leave-on conditioner or hair serum. Apply the same way, but do not rinse off.
Q. I have oily skin, but my face gets dry after washing. You advised that cream or moisturiser should not be used on oily skin? What should I use?
A. Cream should not be used on oily skin, or on acne-prone skin. You had written that your face is prone to blackheads and boils and I felt that the boils could be acne. Blackheads and acne can occur together. The face wash or soap may be causing dryness. Use a pure glycerin soap and wash face only twice a day. Mix one teaspoon pure glycerin with 100 ml rose water. Keep in an airtight bottle in the fridge. Use a little of this lotion on your face after washing, to relieve dryness. It will suit your skin type.
Q. I have been getting white heads. Suggest some remedies to prevent them.
A. After washing the face, wipe with astringent lotion using cotton wool. Astringent lotion will be available at a cosmetic store. The use of facial scrubs helps to discourage white heads once or twice a week. Some home remedies may help the problem of whiteheads. Make a paste of fenugreek (methi) leaves and apply on the face daily, washing it off after an hour. Grated potato or potato juice can 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 help whiteheads.
Q. My legs are itching and causing irritation. I have been applying moisturizer every two hours but it is of no avail. Please help.
A. You should first consult a dermatologist to rule out some skin problem like eczema or psoriasis. Apply til oil daily and massage it into the skin. Use soap free bath or shower gel for bathing. Add two tablespoons vinegar to the last mug of water and use as a last rinse on the legs. Vinegar is said to relieve itching. Immediately after bath, apply moisturising lotion while the skin is still damp. Consulting the skin specialist is important.
Q. I am 23 and have dark circles under my eyes. Please suggest a remedy.
A. Daily apply pure almond oil sparingly under eyes and massage it lightly on the skin, using only the ring finger, for one minute under each eye. Massage in one direction only. Leave on for 15 minutes and wipe off gently with moist cotton wool. Mix cucumber juice and potato juice in equal quantities. Apply under eyes daily for 20 minutes. Wash off with water.
Shahnaz Husain, internationally acclaimed for Ayurvedic beauty care and a Harvard Subject on “Emerging Markets,” received the Padma Shri Award and is the first woman in 104 years to receive the World’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur Success Award.