Shahnaz Husain, renowned pioneer of the beauty movement, answers some of the common questions concerning beauty and care. Excerpts:
Q. What are some of the best alternatives to lighten my skin colour without bleaching?
Natural ingredients can be used as scrubs and packs to lighten skin colour, or to remove tan. Use a facial scrub, once a week for dry skin and two or three times a week for normal to oily skin. Avoid scrubs on skin with pimples, acne or rash. Scrubs help to remove dead skin cells, along with their contained pigment. The skin colour gradually becomes lighter and brighter. Mix ground almonds with yogurt and pinch of turmeric. Apply and rub gently on the skin. Wash it off with water. Or, add a pinch of turmeric (haldi) to yogurt and apply daily. Wash it off after 20 to 30 minutes.
Q. Could you suggest methods to make my skin and hair look awesome for parties?
A “pick-me-up” face mask can leave your skin clean and glowing. Cleanse the skin. Mix half a teaspoon honey, one teaspoon rose water and one teaspoon dried milk powder. Mix into a paste and apply on the face. Remove after 20 minutes with water. Then give cold compress with rose water and cotton wool. If your hair is looking dull give it a quick conditioning treatment before your shampoo. Mix one teaspoon each of vinegar and honey with one egg. Beat them together well. Massage the mixture into the scalp. Then wrap the hair in a hot towel for twenty minutes, before washing the hair. Your hair will have more body and look shiny and manageable. Cover up pimples and scars with a foundation one or two shades lighter than normal skin tone. Using a thin pointed brush, apply it directly on the blemish. Then apply loose powder over it.
Q. I have dark marks on my face left by pimples. I opted for one chemical peel session recently. Please suggest another way to reduce marks.
Mix rice powder with curd and pinch of turmeric and use as a facial scrub once or twice a week. Apply on the face and rub gently on the skin with tiny circular movements, especially on the dark marks. Leave on for a few minutes and then wash off with water. Mix honey and lemon juice in equal quantities and apply daily on the area. Wash off after 15 minutes with plain water. Specialized products are also available, like face packs and anti-blemish ointments.
Q. I sometimes miss out on using a conditioner. Is it really important to use a conditioner and can I use a DIY hair pack for instant nourishment?
If the hair is dry or has been subjected to chemical lotions for colouring, dyeing, straightening or perming, conditioning is necessary to soften the hair, improve its texture and make it manageable. You can use a rinse-off conditioner, or use only a few drops or leave-on conditioner or hair serum. They also help to protect the hair. Packs may also help dry hair. For instance, aloe vera gel may be applied on the hair and then washed off after 15 minutes. Egg and Banana pack makes a wonderful hair conditioning pack and also adds shine. Take two ripe bananas, 2 eggs, the juice of a lemon and 2 Vitamin E Capsules. Mix together into a paste. Apply on the hair and wear a plastic shower cap. Leave on for half an hour and then wash the hair.
Q. How can I try a darker hair colour without making it look too dull?
You can try a darker hair colour, like dark brown or brown. Darker colours suit the Indian skin colour tones. However, you can also have highlights of subtle colours like ombre or burgundy. Avoid reds or bright coloured highlights. You can have the ends of the highlighted strands look lighter. You can go for the Ombre technique of shading, from dark at the roots and becoming lighter towards the ends. There is no harsh dividing line between dark and light, but rather a gradually shading look from dark to light.
Q. My hair always looks dull and dark especially in winter. How can I brighten it up without colouring it?
Using hair serum or hair gloss helps to brighten up the hair. However, they should be used in very small quantities. They should not weigh the hair down. Giving the hair a hair rinse treatment also helps. You can mix one cup apple cider vinegar with 3 cups water and use it to rinse the hair. It helps to add shine and a healthy look. You can also give the hair a tea-water and lemon rinse after shampoo. Boil used tea leaves again in enough water. After boiling, you should have about 5 to 6 cups of tea-water, depending on the length of your hair. Cool and strain it. Then add the juice of a lemon and use it as a last rinse after shampoo. For dry hair, a beer rinse also helps. After shampoo, take flat beer, add the juice of a lemon and rinse the hair. Leave on for 5 minutes and rinse with plain water.