Beauty Expert advice

Q&A With Shahnaz Husain

The inimitable queen of Ayurveda, Shahnaz Husain, is here to resolve all your hair worries.

I travel long hours daily for work and seldom find time to take care of my hair. Is there is a way to protect my hair/scalp from heat, sunlight and pollution when I am travelling?

Sun exposure and pollution do affect hair. Sun exposure can dry out the hair, while pollutants disrupt the normal pH balance of the scalp. Keep your hair covered with a scarf or dupatta. Or, wear a hat! You can look also for a shampoo or hair serum containing sunscreen. Wash your hair three times a week, using less shampoo. Apply a leave-conditioner or hair serum. Take very little, spread on both palms and smooth the palms over the hair. This provides protection to the hair.

How do I refresh my hair after a workout in the gym, without using too many products?

After a workout, you can have a shower and just rinse the hair, in order to remove sweat and oil deposits on the scalp. You can even use little shampoo and wash your hair. Only one application is enough. You can do a hair rinse. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a mug of water and use as a last rinse. It helps to restore the natural balance of your hair. Or, apply a hair serum post wash.

Is it okay if I don’t oil my hair but condition it instead? Or is oiling necessary even if conditioner is used in the hair regularly?

The application of oil with a light massage helps to soften the texture of the hair and also stimulates blood circulation to the follicles. The hair is actually fed by the nutrients in the blood stream. So good blood circulation to the follicles is necessary for healthy hair growth. Oil massages also help to keep the scalp healthy, nourish the hair and improve the look of dry hair. However, if the scalp and hair are oily, avoid oil massage. Also, the hair should not be rubbed vigorously while applying oil. For normal to dry hair, the hair may be oiled twice a week, the night before shampoo. If there is hair loss and the roots are already weak, avoid head massage.

I want to increase the volume of my hair which is very thin and fine now. I have used various products but my hair ends up looking flat or greasy. Please suggest a solution.

Hair is fed by the nutrients in the blood stream. That is why both nutrition and good blood circulation are extremely vital to healthy hair. Protein adds body to the hair, because it coats the hair and creates more volume. Applying egg or curd half an hour before also shampoo adds volume. Egg is one of the most versatile ingredients. It contains silicon, sulphur and fatty acids that help to nourish the hair. The white of the egg has a powerful cleansing action too. Henna also has the ability of coating each hair shaft, thus adding strength, thickness and body to the hair. It leaves the hair healthy, clean, thick and shiny. Adding ingredients such as yogurt and egg to the henna paste not only prevents dryness, but also helps to add volume to the hair. Hairstyling products can weigh your hair down. They should not be used on fine, limp hair, or during the rainy season. Use less shampoo when you wash your hair and then use a hair rinse.

I belong to a city where the weather is generally humid. Hence I end up washing my hair every day. Does daily washing damage the hair? Is there an alternate solution for daily hair maintenance?

Washing hair daily does not cause damage. It is the hair product you use and the quantity you apply for each shampoo that can cause hair damage. In fact, hair actually attracts more impurities and pollutants and can have more sweat and oil deposits. Yet, we wash our face daily but neglect our hair. So yes, you may wash your hair daily, but use a mild herbal shampoo in very little quantity. Take one teaspoon for long hair and half teaspoon for short hair. Dilute with a little water and then apply on wet hair. Also one application of shampoo is enough.

Is there a natural way to get hair to smell nice?

If there is a problem of bad odour from the scalp owing to humidity, you can wash your hair at least four times a week, or even daily. For a fragrant hair rinse, add the juice of a lemon and half a cup of rose water to a mug of water and use as a last rinse after washing your hair.

My hair tends to get dull during winters. I want to add life to it without colouring it. Can you please help?

Once a week, give your hair a deep-conditioning treatment. Apply a mixture of one egg, one tablespoon pure almond oil, the juice of a lemon and one teaspoon pure glycerine. Wear a plastic shower cap and keep it for an hour, before washing your hair.  Aloe vera gel can also be applied to hair. Wash off with plain water after 30 minutes. Or, beat an egg into a cup of milk. Rub the mixture into the scalp and leave it for five minutes, then rinse with water. Do this twice a week. A tea-water and lemon rinse, after shampoo, can also add shine to your hair. Boil used tea leaves again in enough water. After boiling, you should have about 5-6 cups of tea-water. Cool and strain it, then add the juice of a lemon and use it as a last rinse after shampoo.

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