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Q. I am a 17-year-old girl and I tend to keep getting split ends. How do I avoid split ends?
Also, is conditioner good for the hair? I have heard conditioners lead to hair fall. If I use
conditioner how often can I use it?

A. Split ends are due to rough, dry and damaged hair. The hair may be damaged due to excessive use of shampoos, exposure to sun/wind, lack of proper diet, which is deficient in proteins and vitamins and chronic problems like anemia etc. Use of good products is very important to avoid split ends. Use a good shampoo and conditioner from the ranges like Wella, L’Oreal, and Schwarzkopf etc. Use of a leave-in conditioner or serum will also help because these coat the split ends and heal the hair from within along with helping in detangling the hair and giving it a lot of shine as well. Make sure you do not use very hot water when you shampoo your hair, it should just lukewarm. When you are going out in the sun or traveling by a two-wheeler or if you swim make sure the hair is covered with appropriate head gear. If your hair is chemically treated like being colored, permanently straightened or permed etc. make sure you are using the right after care products. Oiling of hai r maybe once a week will help and a better option is to go in for deep conditioning spa treatments one in 2-3 weeks which will nourish the hair really well. Take care of your diet as well. Eat food rich in proteins and vitamin and lots of green leafy vegetables and fruits. Going in for a regular trim once in 6-8 weeks is also very important.

Conditioner is not only good but almost mandatory for the hair. A conditioner should be used with every shampoo. After shampooing your hair squeeze out excess water and apply conditioner in sections of hair from mid length to end without touching the roots. It is a myth that conditioners lead to hair fall, they are used only on the length of the hair hence cannot affect the amount of hair falling. Please consult a good hair therapist and seek advice on the right kind of products which you can use.

Q. I am a 22-year-old girl. I have never colored my hair before. I really want to color my hair but am very confused about what kind of color to go in for? Are highlights still in? Will coloring damage my hair?
Please guide me as to what I can do because I am very confused and scared.

A. Coloring your hair for the first time can be scary but only if you are not in the right hands. Avoid picking up something off the shelf and coloring yourself at home. It is a professional service and should be done by professionals. Consult a senior stylist who will guide you with exactly what kind of coloring to go in for. The right hair color for you is the one that flatters your complexion the most.
Your natural hair color, eye color and skin tone are important deciding factors when it comes to choosing the right hair color. Also, important are factors like your lifestyle and dressing style etc.

Global coloring, Highlights, Streaking will all only improve the look of the hair and bring out the style and personality better if done well.

Indian tones in general carry off honey tones, golden browns, auburns, mahoganies, reds and burgundies very well.

You can go in for innovative techniques of highlights with just few flashes here and there initially so that the change is not too bold for you, yet it is different. Even just a global color with an ammonia free color will give you a very subtle change and is a good bet if you are too concerned about the texture of hair after coloring.

You concerns of the texture of the hair after coloring are natural though unnecessary. Just the right products after coloring and occasional hair spas will make sure the texture stays good and healthy.

Q. I am a 22-year-old girl. I have been reading your columns regularly and I notice in many of the hair related queries you talk a lot about hair spa. I would like to know what exactly is hair spa? Is there any specific age group that can go in for hair spa? How often can one do a spa? Also how much does one sitting of spa normally cost?
I am really curious to know what this concept is all about and would be happy if you could help me!

A. You are right; hair spa is really a big trend now! It is one of the best treatments for hair…Hair Spa is basically an advanced method of deep conditioning. Earlier, there used to be mainly scalp massages with oil which later advanced to special aroma oil massages. This later moved a step ahead with deep conditioning treatments for the hair. A spa rises above all these treatments and proves to be the one of the most effective and intense treatment for any and every hair problem.

My only suggestion to you is don’t consider spa just as a treatment. It is not necessary that you have to do spa only if there is some problem with the hair. It should be a part of your regular care routine. If you have good, healthy hair then do it just to maintain the health because these days just the environmental pollution is enough to damage the hair. Like you go in for a face cleanup or facial or manicure pedicure etc. do a hair spa also once in 2 weeks and see how well your hair will respond to the treatment.

Q. I have a dandruff problem and tried some anti-dandruff shampoos. They turn my hairvery dry and brittle and conditioning brings on more dandruff. Can you please suggest a remedy for me?

A. Dandruff is a fairly common scalp infection. However, the dandruff shampoos available in the market are very strong and leave the hair feeling dry and brittle. Go to a good salon and take a proper dandruff treatment, we have very good Alchemy services available in the ranges of professional products like Wella. Your scalp will be treated while maintaining the vitality and conditioning of your hair.

For home care purchase the right product from a professional salon range. Since dandruff is only a scalp infection hence the product should be used only on the scalp and not lathered onto the length. Use a normal shampoo for the length and the dandruff shampoo on the roots only. Also remember that your conditioner is meant only for the length of the hair and you do not have to apply it close to the roots. This should help you but if the problem persists it might be a chronic case, please meet the Dermatologist.

Q. I am 26 years old and am going to get married in three months. I have heard a lot about hair extensions and would like to try them out. Is this a safe thing to do, or does it involve chemical treatment of hair? I have very thick, curly hair.

A. Congratulations on your wedding and wish you all the best. Hair extensions are becoming a rage among women who face problem with slightly scanty hair or who love long tresses but their growth pattern doesn’t allow it. It is a viable and safe option. There is no chemical used with hair extensions. Extensions are separate hair pieces of 100% natural hair which are attached to your natural hair and add body, volume and increase length. You can choose to go in for a permanent fixing of these by various techniques or choose to just attach them by clips. This form of a temporary attachment gives you the flexibility to put them on when you want and remove them when you don’t. In this temporary clip form of attachment you can also remove them while sleeping at night and while washing your hair etc. A permanently attached extension is meant to be re-fixed roughly over 4-6 weeks depending on the rate of your hair growth. Since, it is 100% natural human hair it can be colored, straightened, permed or chemically treated in any way and can be washed and conditioned like normal hair. Hair extensions are a good investment, because good hair pieces will last you at least for 3-4 years if maintained well.

You have thick hair so obviously your purpose is not volume. Though, you can invest in them for the length. For your wedding functions and rituals they will definitely be a glamorous option.

Q. I am 27 years old and have normal, shoulder-length hair. I read an article that suggested that washing your hair everyday strips it of essential oils and hair loses luster. However, my stylist said that if I don't shampoo my hair every day, it will get grimy and the scalp can't breathe. I am very confused. What is the right routine?

A. The frequency of the hair wash varies from person to person and is dependent on the length, thickness, scalp condition, volume and the texture of your hair. If you have a very oily scalp which tends to look greasy the same day or by the next day of the wash then it is advisable to wash your hair daily. If the scalp is normal to slightly dry then washing on alternate days or twice a week is good enough. The most important thing is to ensure that your scalp stays clean, because an oily scalp attracts dust and grime and can lead to dandruff and other scalp infections.

If you are using a good range of shampoos and conditioners, do not worry about the luster of the hair being lost. On a daily wash use a mild shampoo and good conditioner to nourish the length well. Use a good serum or leave in conditioner after the wash. These products restore the moisture in hair and leave it soft and shiny. Products from Wella and Sebastian are of a superior quality and should suit you well. Consult a good hair stylist for the right kind of product meant for you.

Q. I am 27 years old and have a very tanned skin. I need to undergo some skin lightening treatment. Can you please tell me what I can do to get rid of this tanning and to get back my original complexion?

A. Asian skin is very prone to tanning and exposed to sunlight. The ultra violet rays in the sunlight excite the pigment cells in the outer layer of the skin and make them produce more melanin which results into darkening of the skin. The first step towards lightening your skin should be to protect yourself from sun exposure particularly between 9am-4pm. Use umbrellas/ large rimmed hats. While going out use full-sleeved clothes to protect your arms. Use a sun screen of about 20spf on sun exposed areas between 9am-4pm. If you are out for long hours at a stretch repeat sunscreen application after 3-4 hours. At night you can use skin lightening creams or gels which are rich in AHA’s, retinoic acid, Vitamin C and Kogic Acid etc. which help in skin lightening. For quick tan removal you should immediately consult a good beauty therapist you can put you on some very effective tan removal facials and skin treatments which will clear the skin and leave it glowing. Few serial peels with glycolic acid will help a lot in removing the tan. At home tomato juice, papaya pulp, curds also help a lot in tan removal. Please consult a beautician to put you on the right skin regime to improve your skin.

Q. I am a 15-year-old girl. I have clear skin but am developing small white boils kind of problem on my cheeks. I have tried to squeeze them out but it hasn’t helped. How do I get rid of this problem because it is frustrating me?

A. You seem to be having whiteheads on your cheek area. They are deposition of protein called Keratin in closed pores. These appear as white shiny globules or dots over the skin. Unlike blackheads, which are present in open pores and can be removed easily, white heads cannot be squeezed or pressed out. Please don’t try to pinch them out because you may end up scarring your skin very badly. You should consult a dermatologist for the removal of white heads. To avoid getting whiteheads, keep your face clean and use a mild exfoliating pack regularly.

Q. Is it advisable to use a facial scrub for oily skin? After only one use of a scrub I am not very satisfied and am finding my skin little irritated. Please advice.

A. Scrubs are meant to remove the outermost dead layer of skin and dislodge blackheads etc. Various preparations like besan powder, orange peel powder, lentil powder, walnut shell powder, silica and aluminum grains are used in scrubs to achieve the abrasive effect. Oily skin being more prone to acne, does not react well to some scrubs as scrubbing the face with hard and coarse grains damages the skin and results in infections. For oily skin, wash your face with mild soap and water frequently to keep your face free from oil and dirt. Use oil free or shine control cleansers for the face to reduce oil. For a facial scrub, use a pack with besan powder, lentil powder and orange peel powder mixed with rose and cucumber water and a little honey. Leave it on your face for 15-20 minutes and then scrub off gently when it is still wet. Using very coarse and hard grains in the packs, scrubbing the dry pack on face and scrubbing it too hard will damage the skin. Also, do not use scrubs when you have active acne on your face.

Q. I am a 25-year-old lady. I had beautiful pink lips but over the last 6 months I am noticing that they are losing their original color and have started becoming dark.
Please advice.

A. Darkening of lips can result from frequent use of perfumed lip cosmetics, frequent lip licking and allergy to some fruits, particularly citrus fruits etc. Avoid licking your lips too often. If you have started using some new lip cosmetics over the past 6 months stop using them immediately. There are very good brands of make-up available in the market these days. Invest in a good brand of lipsticks and lip glosses. Use lipsticks with sunscreen or apply a sunscreen on your lips before applying lipsticks. You can use mild AHA creams over night to reduce the darkening. Going in for a mild Fruit peel treatment will also help.

Q. I am 32 years old and for the last few months I am noticing a pimple outbreak on my face. There are some dark patches on my cheeks as well. I am usually very scrupulous about products I use and try to use ones that do not cause allergies. How can I solve this problem?

A. Adult acne could be caused by hormonal imbalances if there are no obvious reasons for a break out. Firstly I would suggest you get a medical consultation and get your hormone levels checked through the required lab tests. A combination of acne treatment and scar lightening treatment will help clear infection and lighten scars or patches simultaneously. If you feel the need, after this you could opt for clinical treatment. A proper home regime is very important and the best home care products that I can suggest are the Dermalogica range of skin care products.

Q. I am 33 and on the seventh month of my pregnancy. My neck, arms and face are getting dark. My doctor tells me this is called the pregnancy mask. How do I get rid of this?

A. Pregnancy brings about a lot of physiological changes in the body. These are brought about by various hormonal changes and once the pregnancy is over the body comes back to normal. These hormonal changes can produce pigmentation over the face known as chloasma and also pigmentation or thickening of skin in other areas. Most of these will revert back to normal after the delivery. If this is not the case you may consult the Dermatologist for applications which will reduce the pigmentation. As of now enjoy your pregnancy.

Q. I am a 25-year-old girl and I find my nails very brittle. They tend to keep breaking and I love having long nails, but because they keep breaking I am unable to do so. Please tell me how can I make my nails stronger?

A. Brittle nails may result due to iron deficiency as in anemia, calcium deficiency, nail diseases like psoriasis and fungal infections or injury due nail biting or sharp instruments. Frequent exposure to harsh chemicals and detergents etc. can result in brittle nails. Check out for any of these problems and cure them. Keep your nails properly trimmed and do a regular manicure. A lot of special treatments are available with manicures these days which also helps in strengthening nails. So you can go in for an AHA manicure or Cleopatra Milk manicure. These treatments will help in nourishing and strengthening nails. These days special nail strengtheners in the form of polishes are also available which, when used as an undercoat of nail polish also helps a lot. On a regular basis at home, massage nails with olive oil. Go on a diet rich in iron, calcium and proteins. Avoid excessive use of soap and water. If you are involved in a lot of household activities like washing vessels and clothes make sure you use gloves while doing any of these activities to avoid exposure to so much water and soaps. Keep nails clean and dry. Going in for a permanent nail extensions is also a very good option…they can firstly give you lovely long nails you have always craved for and they also help in protecting the original nails to help them grow better. They are very safe and last you easily a year or more. You would just need to do a refilling every 3-4 weeks. Consult a good Beauty Therapist and seek her suggestion on the best options for you.

Q. I am a 40-year-old woman. I have cracked soles. Can you give me some natural remedy for the same?

A. The skin of our soles is very thick and lacks natural oil. It tends to crack when subjected to constant pressure, wear and tear against rough and hard surfaces, frequent wetting, use of excessive detergents and soaps, fungal infections and other skin diseases. You should soak your feet for 15minutes in 5 liters of warm water mixed with 3 tablespoons of salt. Scrub with pumice stone or foot scrubber to remove dead skin. Pat it dry and apply Vaseline Do it regularly and your soles will tend to heal after 2-3 weeks. You can also paint your cracks with warm wax and leave it over night. Better still you should visit a salon at least once in 2 weeks and get a proper pedicure done. There are many treatments offered with pedicures these days, which are specifically for cracked and dry heals. Consult a professional there who will put you onto some specialized treatments. Avoid exposure to soaps and detergents and also avoid walking around barefoot at home. Wear soft, padded footwear and keep your feet clean and dry.

Q. I am a 26-year-old girl and I have ingrown hair on my legs and bikini area. The skin does not feel smooth and it looks very ugly when I wear short dresses. How do I get rid of this?

A. Some people with particularly curly hair have a problem with ingrown hair. Faulty waxing or shaving can result into breakage of hair in the hair canal and result into ingrown hair. While waxing make sure the pull is firm but gentle and opposite to the growth of the hair. Avoid shaving or use of epilators or use of hair removal creams. While having a shower use a loofah or pumice stone in the areas where there is ingrowth. Go to a salon and consult a professional who will put you onto proper treatment for ingrown hair. There is special wax available these days specifically for ingrown hair, use of which should also help.

Q. I am an 18-year-old girl. I have been using deodorants for over two years now and have recently started noticing that my underarms have turned quite dark. I also shave my underarms once in 2 weeks. Is there any way to restore coloration? I cannot wear sleeveless dresses because of this problem!

A. Skin over underarms because of constant friction naturally tends to be slightly darker than other areas. Regular use of deodorants because of their irritant and sensitization reactions result in pigmentation, making the area darker than it is the artificial fragrances and perfumes in deodorants also sensitize the skin. A lot of companies have started introducing herbal and environmental friendly deodorants and anti-per spirants these days which come with mild natural fragrances and are safe to use. Your condition has probably also worsened because of you shaving underarms so regularly because of which hair has become coarse and you may have ingrown hair problem as well. It is always safer to go in for waxing, so start getting into that habit. One of the best options is to go in for a permanent hair reduction treatment called IPL. You should start seeing a reduction in the first couple of sittings and slowly over sittings the hair becomes quite fine and is hardly visible. It is one of the most popular, safe and effective methods for hair reduction these days. As a treatment for the existing darkness and mild pigmentation you can go in for mild Fruit Acid Peels which should clear the skin and restore the natural complexion. You can also use creams rich in AHA’s or mild de-pigmentation creams in that area to clear the skin.

Q. Whenever I get waxing done, I get eruptions all over my face and arms. No matter what I try, clean strips, anti-allergy lotions, aloe vera gel, I still end up getting these bumps, which make my skin very rough. What can I do?

A. Your skin is probably extremely sensitive and reacts to the temperature and adhesion of the wax and force exerted on the skin during waxing. This is common for facial skin for most women and in your case probably applies to the arms as well due to the degree of sensitivity of your skin. You can look at options of going in for bleaching instead, however if thick hair and dense growth is your concern then you might need to consider the option of Laser treatment for permanent hair reduction. Consult a Dermatologist for details on this procedure and also to ascertain the cause for your sensitive skin.

Q. I have just started working and do not know how to use make-up for everyday use. How much makeup is normal for daily wear? What should I include? Also, could you please tell me how to use a powder blush-on?

A. Personally, I think the use of a little make-up is essential and helps improve a woman’s presentation and appearance. Having said that, it is important to know where to draw the line and not look artificial or overly done up. Depending on your job and lifestyle you can choose to build up or play down on a specific look. As a general guideline a superficial coat of foundation with a little compact is the first step in make-up. This helps to give the complexion an even tone and leaves the face looking fresh and radiant.

Next, you work on the eyes; just a soft eye shadow (tones like peach, soft pink, soft rust and bronze) would be ideal for the daytime. Eyeliners can be used in hues of dark brown and grey (not necessarily black) to give shape and emphasis to eyes. A soft kohl or kajal can be applied to give the eyes a bright and big look. You can use a mascara to finish the look.

A soft blush in neutral peach and soft pink tones would work well. If you have a slightly round and full face work the powder blush right below your cheekbones. If you have a slightly sallow or small face work the blush on the apples of your cheeks. Finally finish the look with a soft dab of lipstick. On a personal note I feel just a gloss with natural hues to it would do the trick. It gives the lips a shine and leaves the face looking glowing. This little effort on a daily basis will help you feel good and confident about yourself.

Q. I am a 25 year old girl. I'm going to be married in a few months time. I have never used make-up in my life, except some kaajal during festivals etc. I have a light complexion but I don't know what kind of makeup to use or which colours. Can you guide me on this? What can I do to highlight my eyes? Could you suggest some good brands that are not too expensive? Also, can you tell me what are the necessary make-up items I must purchase before my wedding?

A. Firstly, I would suggest that since you are looking at make-up for your wedding and have no prior experience in this regard, hire a professional make-up artist. A professional would be able to decide what colors of foundation suit your skin tone and the kind of makeup that would accentuate your facial contours and features (like eyes, lips etc). Also they can give you the best look for the special day; a wedding ceremony is not a good time to experiment by yourself. For a follow up and to be able to do make-up for yourself in the future, you could go in for classes in make-up, there are special options available for personal grooming which would give you handy tips to do something simple on a day to day basis.

Max Factor, Maybelline and Chambor are good brands of makeup that are not too expensive. You could ask for make-up tips and assistance on application of the make-up when you are purchasing the products.

Q. I have put on quite a bit of weight recently and can see a lot of cellulite formation on my thighs, arms, stomach etc. There are a whole lot of products in the market that claim to dissolve cellulite. Should I bother with them? I desperately want to lose weight and get cellulite free.

A. There have been tons of different diets that have come out and different weight loss companies with promises of losing weight at the earliest but my sincere advise to you is don’t get carried away…the best and most effective of weight loss is a sensible diet and exercise. Don’t go for crash diets as that is too dramatic and harsh. Visit a dietician and join a gym or just go for an hour of brisk walk every morning.

As far as products for cellulites are concerned the ones in the market maybe with chemicals which are too strong and can prove harmful in the long run. Home remedies may be too mild and won’t show much result. With the dietary changes and exercise the cellulite will automatically start reducing. There are some very advanced body spa treatments available these which over 6-8 sittings do show tremendous improvement in cellulite reduction. Visit a good spa for these.

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