Get It Straight!

IT HAS been wonderful to know that several readers are eager to take care of their hair and skin, which is, indeed, the first step towards grooming. I have received a lot of queries on hair conditioning. This week we shall concentrate on the nuances of hair conditioning. Beautiful hair is one that is shiny, has resilience and elasticity. It is neither too limp nor too dry. In other words, it is well-balanced; the texture is smooth; there is body and bounce.

In today’s environment, air is polluted and the water we drink and wash our hair with has impurities and chemicals. Also, we use many chemical hair products and cosmetics like sprays, mousse, gels, hair dyes, perm and straightening lotions. All these and emotional crisis, hormonal problems and adverse weather conditions cause the hair to become dry and limp leading to split ends and frizzy unmanageability. To counteract the ill-effects, you need to use a conditioner.

A conditioner is a beauty preparation that improves the texture of hair and makes them easily manageable. It also helps to repair damaged hair. There are various types of conditioners for different kinds of hair and hair problems. A conditioner is mostly applied after a shampoo.

Why do we need to condition our hair?

Conditioning is a very important aspect of hair care routine. Almost all kinds of hair need conditioning to some extent or the other. The hair follicles receive nourishment from the blood stream; but the hair shaft ceases to receive this once it appears on the scalp and hence it needs nourishment by way of external care.

One of the main functions of a conditioner is to make the scales of the cuticle smooth so that the hair looks shiny. This is especially important if you are colouring or dyeing your hair as, during the colouring process, the cuticle is opened by chemicals to deposit the pigment in the hair cortex. This opening and closing of the cuticles is what makes the hair rough after colouring/dyeing. Conditioning helps to restore the acid mantle of the scalp and helps to untangle the knots in frizzy hair. This is especially true of conditioners, which have creamy bases.

These conditioners coat the hair and help to minimise the stress on the hair from brushing, combing and setting. Special conditioners should be applied and left on the hair for longer periods. The protein works by repairing hair damage at the areas that are damaged.

Nowadays there is an excellent treatment for damaged hair called the Hair Spa. This is a special treatment for the hair and the scalp by L’oreal professionals. It rejuvenates dry, damaged, coloured as well as dull and lifeless hair. The Hair Spa comprises nourishing cream vitalising creams and the scalp is treated for dandruff, dry flaky and oily scalp.

Types of conditioners

* Commercial conditioners

* Hair Rinse

A NUMBER of commercial conditioners are available in the market. Follow these guidelines to select your conditioner:
Buy the conditioner of the same company as the shampoo you are using. If you are colouring your hair, buy a conditioner for coloured hair. If your hair is badly damaged, buy a conditioner for damaged hair – which is usually in the form of a serum.

Homemade conditioners

1 tsp castor oil, 1 tsp amla or brahmi oil, 1 tsp malt vinegar, 1 tsp glycerine and 1 tsp shampoo.
The castor oil gives body to the hair, the herbal oil acts like a hair tonic, vinegar restores the acid mantle, glycerine moisturises the hair and shampoo is the medium that blends the ingredients. Before washing the hair, apply this mixture and leave it on for 20 minutes. Shampoo and see the change in your hair.


Henna application adds body and bounce to the hair. The hair becomes supple, shiny and easy to manage. It also helps to maintain the health of the scalp. Henna has the ability of coating each hair shaft. This makes the hair stronger and lends it thickness.

Henna conditioner: Mix henna powder into a paste with 200 gms yoghurt, two eggs, juice of 1 lemon and 2 tsp. of coffee powder or katha (catechu). This gives the hair a rich brown colour. The paste should be applied evenly all over the head by dividing the hair in sections with a wide brush. Coil the section around the head after application. Repeat this till you have applied henna on each section.

Conditioning helps restore the loss of moisture to the hair. Today we subject our hair to a lot of abuse. Blow-drying with hair dryers, electric irons and crimpers to style the hairlead to loss of moisture making the hair dry and brittle.

Hair rinse:

HAIR RINSE is one way of conditioning the hair. It is usually added to the final rinse, after you shampoo your hair. A good hair rinse helps restore the acid – alkaline balance of the scalp, which can be upset by harsh shampoos and chlorinated water.

Home rinses

Many home ingredients can be used as a hair rinse. Tea and beer rinses improve the look of the hair.

a) Tea rinse: Boil used tea leaves in a large mug of water. Cool the liquid and use as a last rinse.

b) Beer: Makes a good rinse. If you have any left over beer from a party or your beer has gone flat – do not throw it away. Use it as a last rinse after shampoo.

c) Lemon juice: Add lemon juice to a mug of water and use as a last rinse. This is specially good for oily hair.

d) Honey: Helps to moisturise dry scalp. Add 40-50 drops of honey to a pint of water and use as a last rinse.

e) Henna: Henna is one of the best natural conditioners.

Queries answered

Lata Sai wants to know how to make the almond powder to treat under eye circles.
Lata – Grind almonds in a mixer-grinder and make a powder-like you do any spice powder. Store in an airtight jar.
Naveen Kumar wants to know a face pack for removing dark areas around the forehead.
Naveen – mix besan and milk and a few drops of lemon and apply on dark areas; let it dry. Then rub in a circular motion. This removes dead skin, which causes the dark areas.