Shahnaz’s magic is all you need to keep your skin and hair lustrous this festive season!

Pregnancy is a bittersweet experience for all women. While on one hand we are overwhelmed about the little human growing within us, the other issues that come with it can bog us down. Over the nine months and even after delivery, women go through various skin and hair issues. And with beauty treatments being a big ‘no’ during this phase, home remedies and a healthy diet automatically become go-to.

Well, there is no doubt your mother or grandmother has given you enough and more advice on this, but here’s a world renowned expert sharing her tried and tested tips.

World renowned beauty expert Shahnaz Husain shares some of the best-kept skin and hair secrets exclusively with Zenparent. So, mommies steal it right away!

1. How can one combat postpartum hair fall?

Post-pregnancy hair loss is almost routine. The estrogen level increases during pregnancy, which can actually benefit the hair. But after pregnancy, when the levels fall, hair loss is common. Once the hormones settle, the condition may be controlled, but it is important to take good care of the hair, to prevent hair loss and thinning of the hair. Nutrition is a very important factor for healthy hair, especially during and after pregnancy, as well as during lactation. The hair is actually fed by the nutrients in the blood stream. So, if there is any nutritional deficiency during pregnancy or lactation, it can lead to hair loss. The application of herbal hair tonic and warm oil would help. Avoid massage. Ask your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements and also take dietary advice.

2. How can new moms take care of their skin post delivery? Could you suggest some home remedies?

A daily skin care routine should be followed, keeping in mind the individual requirements. If the skin is dry, moisturize and nourish daily. Cleanse the skin twice a day with a cleansing cream or milk. Apply a moisturizing lotion or sunscreen during the day. At night, apply a good nourishing cream and massage the skin for a few minutes. Use outward and slightly upward strokes.  Wipe off the cream with damp cotton wool.

For oily skin, use a cleansing lotion. A scrub should be used two or three times a week if there are no pimples, acne or rash.  This helps to keep the pores free of hardened oil. Apply rose-based skin tonic to refresh and tone the skin. If there is chloasma (dark patches), protect the skin with sunscreen. Scrubs, anti-pigmentation lotions, and creams are advised.

Recommended homemade face mask twice a week: Mix 2 teaspoons choker (wheat bran) with one teaspoon each of ground almonds, honey, curd and lemon juice, or egg white. Apply on the entire face, avoiding the lips and area around eyes. Wash it off after half an hour.

3. What should we include in our diet for healthy hair and skin?

The ancient sages of India placed a high value on natural foods. “Natural foods” are those that can be eaten raw, those that are naturally derived and those that are unrefined and unprocessed. Fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouted cereals and “dals”, unprocessed and unrefined wheat and rice, nuts (unsalted), seeds and yogurt come under the category of natural foods. They should form a major part of the daily diet, cutting down on refined sugars and fats. A part of your daily diet must consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten raw, with the skin, as far as possible. Yoghurt, skimmed milk, and paneer can also be included. Vegetables should be cooked lightly. Fruit and vegetable juices help to cleanse and purify the system and prevent the accumulation of toxic residues. Fruit and vegetable juices are best taken freshly extracted, with the addition of water.

4. How can pregnant women tackle pigmentation?

Chloasma or pregnancy mask may occur during or after pregnancy, in which the skin develops pigmented (dark) patches. Usually, they occur on the cheeks, or the highpoints, like forehead, nose, and cheeks. The use of sunscreen is important, as it provides protection from UV rays. Try to avoid the sun, as far as possible, especially from noon till 3 p.m. Select a sunscreen with a high SPF of at least 20+. The sunscreen should be applied about 20 minutes before sun-exposure, to allow it time to be absorbed by the skin. It should be reapplied if you are in the sun for longer than 20 to 30 minutes at a stretch.

As a home remedy, add a pinch of turmeric to yogurt (curd) and apply daily on the patches. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and wash it off with water. Or mix together honey and lemon juice and apply the patches daily, the same way. Mix ground almonds or rice powder with curd and apply on the face. After 15 minutes, rub gently on the skin with small circular strokes, especially on the dark patches. Wash off with water.

5. How can we deal with pregnancy acne?

Acne can also occur during or after pregnancy, mainly due to hormonal imbalance. However, it usually settles down with time. Cleanse the face with a medicated cleanser, or a face wash for oily skin, containing ingredients like tulsi and neem. Apply an astringent lotion, using cotton wool. It reduces oiliness. Cucumber juice can also be applied, as it has an astringent effect. Mix Multani mitts, sandalwood paste and rose water into a paste and apply on the face two of three times and wash off when it dries.

In case of dryness, take two teaspoons yogurt, add a pinch of turmeric and apply on the face. Wash off with plenty of water after 20 minutes. Or, simmer neem leaves on a low fire. Leave overnight. Next day, make a paste of the neem leaves and apply on the face. Wash off after 20 minutes.

6. Are stretch marks curable? What home remedies would you recommend?

The problem of stretch marks is very common during and especially after pregnancy. They are caused by overstretching of the skin and also when there is weight loss after weight gain. Stretch marks can spread over a large expanse of skin, across the abdomen, or may occur on breasts, thighs and upper arms. Although stretch marks fade gradually with time, they are never removed totally. So, as soon as you are pregnant, consult your doctor about starting a daily programme of massaging the abdomen. This helps to maintain the elasticity of the skin. You can use pure olive oil or sesame seed (til) oil. As a home remedy, apply olive oil or til oil on the abdomen and other areas before bath. Mix gram flour with yogurt and a little turmeric into a paste and apply on the area twice a week. Wash it off after half an hour.

7. You made Ayurveda popular worldwide. Are there some ayurvedic remedies you would recommend for lustrous hair?

We have been using ayurvedic ingredients in our products for hair care and hair problems. Among these are amla, brahmi, trifala, shikakai, reetha, bael, castor oil, etc. The juice of one amla can be added to a glass of warm water and taken daily. It is said to control hair and adds shine to the hair. To make home-made shampoo for shiny and silky hair, take one handful of dry reetha, amla, and shikakai and add it to a litre of water and allow it to soak overnight. Next day, simmer on low fire, till the water reduces to half the quantity. Do not allow it to boil on a high flame, but rather simmer on a very low fire. Let the mixture cool and then strain it with a clean cloth. Use the liquid for washing the hair. The decoction can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. To make hair oil, take a handful of dry amla and dry brahmi. Grind coarsely and add it to 200 ml pure coconut oil. Keep it in an airtight glass bottle and keep the bottle in the sun daily for about 15 days. Then strain the oil and store. The oil can be used to apply on the hair.

8. How would you define beauty?

Beauty is a total impact. It is the blending together of physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual qualities into one integrated whole.

9. One skin and hair beauty regime all women must follow

All women must include proper cleansing and protection in their daily regimen for skin and hair. Select a cleanser according to skin type. It should contain natural ingredients. For the skin, after toning, apply sunscreen before going out in the sun. Sunscreens usually have built-in moisturisers. For the hair, use a few drops of hair serum or leave-in conditioner for protection.

10. Could you suggest a few home remedies to reduce black heads?

Blackheads occur on the oily skin or oily areas of the skin when pores get clogged with sebum or hardened oil. After cleansing, wipe the blackhead prone areas with an astringent lotion, using cotton wool. Make a paste of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and water. Apply the paste on the areas with blackheads daily and wash it off after 5 minutes. Use a scrub two or three times a week on the blackhead prone areas. Mix rice powder with rose water and use as a scrub. Or, mix oats with egg white and apply on the areas with blackheads and open pores twice a week. Wash it off when it dries.