A Hairy Situation… Sunday, Feb 26 2012 

Even though we invest a whole lot of time making sure our hair is healthy and shiny, we spend equal or more time getting rid of hair on other parts of our body.  If you are born into a South Asian family, you know I am not exaggerating when I say that a good portion of our life is spent making sure every part of our body, other than our head, is rid of hair.

I am a big advocate of waxing as opposed to the use of blade, except when it comes to the area of the face; for the face, I prefer threading.  Threading is an ancient Middle Eastern/Asian technique used to remove hair from its root with thread.  You will mostly see these techniques being used on the face in general.

The reason I prefer getting my eyebrows/upper lip  threaded than waxed  –

  • First, there is a very (very) small chance, with threading,  that your eyebrow might go missing.
  • Second, with waxing your skin gets pulled; the pulling, over time, loosens the skin.  With threading at least it is one less thing to worry about.

Eyebrow Shaping

While we are on the topic of eyebrows, lets take a quick minute to discuss the shape.  Over the years I have seen women sport all sorts of shapes.  Someone I know once got hers arched so much that she had a perpetual look of  surprise.  At another occasion, my aunt (instead of my father I am throwing my aunt under the bus) mentioned that thin eyebrows were the trend.  Ladies, if unibrows ever become the rage, I highly doubt we will follow that trend (at least I hope we never will).

So, the basic rule of thumb is to try to stick to your natural brow shape and just clean any outliers or excess hair.  It never is a good idea to thin your eyebrow too much because you don’t want to be left with no eyebrows; you rather leave the hair as is than wait for it to grow back.  Things to keep in mind (I saw this on Oprah) –

  •  Your eyebrow should begin along the same line as the inner corner of your eye
  • If you place the end of a ruler at the outer corner your nose and put it on the outer corner of your eye, this is where your eyebrow should end
  • If you don’t have long enough eyebrows, you can always pencil them in

In recent years threading has picked up quite bit of momentum in the US as well.  New York city, ever since I can remember, has always had many threading locations; one of the reasons for visiting New York was to get my eyebrows threaded.  But recently quite a few locations have popped up in the Boston area as well and the one that I frequent is the Threading Spa.  They  have multiple locations that are easily accessible by public transportation or by car.

Happy threading!


“A beautiful eye makes silence eloquent…” Tuesday, Oct 25 2011 

… By Joseph Addison

You probably have heard of the saying, ‘A picture speaks a thousand words‘; apparently same is true of your eyes, they say a lot about you.  Well, since your eyes plan on being so eloquent and do all that talking, it is your duty to make sure they are at least presentable.

Having been blessed with (boring) dark brown eyes I made the mistake of wearing brown eyeliner during my college days, which didn’t do a thing for my eyes.  Hence all the eloquence was lost in the process…

A while back I came across a small section in the Bloomingdales magazine suggesting eyeliner colors that enhance ones eyes –

  •  Brown eyes – Navy/dark blue
  • Green eyes – Charcoal grey
  • Blue eyes – Dark brown

Of course these are just suggestions and the basic point is to use colors that will compliment your natural eye color.  For example, I read some place that a black eyeliner makes someone with green eyes look a little scary (unless of course that is the look you are going for).

I, personally, prefer a dark blue eyeliner on the inside of my upper eye lid for the day/work look.  This really helps in bringing a little definition to your eyes.  For an evening look, I use either dark blue or black eye liner and apply it on the lower lid as well.

I think ladies with blue eyes can play around with brown, mauve or plum eyeliners.  And the green eyed beauties can try brown, dark green or plum.

Once you have figured out the color, the next step is to find an eye liner that does not run; there have been many a times where I have ended up with raccoon eyes by the end of the evening.

It took me awhile to find the ones I like; my favorite eye liners are –

Have fun with your make-up!

-Nusrat Shariff

‘Just a Spoonful of Sugar… Friday, Aug 12 2011 

… will make the rough skin go away.’

Alright, alright! I’ll leave the skill of song writing to the experts and stick to things I have a little knowledge about.

So, for the skin you need pure brown sugar and not just any sugar; many brands use pure brown sugar as their base in face and body scrubs.  A face scrub is a ‘must’ in your bathroom cabinet, right next to your face cleanser!  Using a scrub to exfoliate your skin is not a spring cleaning process that needs to happen once a year; instead you must exfoliate your skin at least once a week.  This helps keep pores clear and gets rid of dry rough patches.

I tend to be a little bit of a nag when it comes to my friends and skin care; I like to blame my South Asian genes for that.  South Asians, and sometime Asians, do not have a filter and (at least the older generation) are not sensitive to how the other person might feel, but let me assure you it comes from a good place.

My best friend was a recent victim to this – I have been pestering her to get a facial for a while, as I thought her skin needed some pampering.  Then one day, out of the blue, she tells me she has booked herself facial at the Aveda salon.  Even though I would like to take credit for my nagging skills, it was not I who was the reason for this decision.  It was her nail stylist.

She was getting her nails done at her usual place and all of a sudden the nail stylist goes, ‘Hmmph! …’  My friend asks if everything is alright and nail stylist gives her a sharp look and says, ‘You need facial! Pores very clogged!’  Of course my friend was way too mortified to say anything but immediately made an appointment thereafter.

Anyway, if you want to avoid getting disparaged by your nail stylist about your skin, make sure you unclog those pores by exfoliating your skin regularly.

My favorite face scrub is the ‘Sugar Face Polish’ by Fresh.  This exfoliating mask has brown sugar, antioxidant-rich wild strawberries along with hydrating seed oils that nourish and brighten the skin.

  • Gently massage your (cleansed) face with the scrub and wash off with warm water

(I would like to stress on the word ‘gentle’ because another friend (yes, I have fascinating friends) told me that she does not use a scrub because she has sensitive skin and ends up with scratches.  Ladies, please do not scrub your face, or for that matter any part of your body, like you would the kitchen floor.  Please be gentle with your skin!)

The results are absolutely amazing!

Happy skin care,

-Nusrat Shariff 

Put the Lime in the Coconut… Wednesday, Jun 29 2011 

… And drink it all up! Unlike Harry Nilsson I am not going to put any lime in the coconut; in fact, all you need is just the coconut!

The one thing I love to do when I go home for a break is go through all the old photo albums that my parents have collected over the years. This time I came across a photograph of my mother at her college graduation social – in the picture she is wearing one of my grandmother’s gorgeous sarees with her hair let down, which is straight, thick, black and down to her waist!

Neither my sister nor I have hair like my mother did (have I mentioned before that my father is bald?). My sister’s hair is curly, which she straightens regularly; and I have straight hair, which I try to curl. We like to think that when my father did have hair it probably was curly and that is where my sister gets it from.

Anyway, Ammi’s secret or mantra, rather, has always been weekly application of coconut oil. It is like my friend mentioned the other day, “We Indians use coconut in everything!” Coconut oil is widely used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is one of the best natural nutrients that help in healthy growth and provides shiny complexion to hair.

After seeing that photograph I have started putting coconut oil at least twice a month but with a little twist of my own. Here is what you will need –

• Coconut Oil
• Olive oil or Almond oil

Warm the Coconut oil along with the olive/almond oil; massage your scalp with it and then apply the mix from root to tip. I usually apply the oil and leave it overnight.  It may take a couple of washes to get out the oil, but your hair will be nourished and will feel nice and silky!

Happy hair care,

Nusrat Shariff

For Richer or Poorer Sunday, May 29 2011 

For around 4000 years it has been used as an aromatherapy agent;  Queen Elizabeth-I is said to have liked her bed linen to be perfumed with it;  Indian priests regard this as a cleansing agent for sins and according to myth, God instructed King Solomon to make his furniture from it.  My favorite use of sandalwood, along with ancient Egyptians and Indians, is in cosmetics; to preserve the youth and beauty of women.

Well known for its luxurious scent, sandalwood is also a highly regarded Ayurvedic herb.  It is used not only to treat skin infections, scraps and cuts, but also as an anti-aging treatment to add glow, diminish acne and prevent wrinkles.

Back in the day, as a beauty regimen, the queens would apply a concoction made of sandalwood and turmeric root.  The sandalwood and turmeric root would be ground from its natural form into a paste, which would either be applied to the face or all over the body as a remedy for sun damage and age spots.

Since none of us have royal subjects waiting on us hand and foot to ground us this paste, I have tried and liked the following application –

You will need –

  • Sandalwood powder (you need to make sure that this is the purest form of powder)
  • Rose water (or rose oil)
  • Cream (or coconut cream)










Mix the sandalwood powder with rose water and regular or coconut cream.  Apply the mix to the face and leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off.   Sandalwood has a drying effect on the skin, which is why it is used for treating acne.  If you already have dry skin then the cream will help balance the dryness.  Once a week of this treatment will do the trick!

Happy skin care,

-Nusrat Shariff

Liar Liar Lipstick Friday, Apr 1 2011 

As someone who is risk averse about everything, I have never really experimented with colors when it comes to makeup, specifically the lips; I play it safe and stick to the more earthy/pink tones and prefer lip gloss to lipsticks.  That said, at the back of my mind I have always wanted to get that perfect 1930s evening look – simple makeup with the right shade of red lipstick for that understated feminine and sensual look!

Being South Asian trying to find the right shade of red (not maroon or burgundy but a red) for my skin color was a problem right from the start.  Most of the makeup brands do not have red lipsticks that complement the brown complexion.   From the Chanel counter to YSL, I always got the same line, “Honey, for your complexion I would go with the darker red.”  Yeah, no… I am not looking to buy a maroon (i.e. darker red); I would like a red lipstick, please!

Finally, this past winter I was browsing the newly opened Burberry makeup counter at a Nordstrom in Chicago and was approached by one of their makeup artists.  I brushed him off when asked if I needed help and he responded with a smile, “Don’t worry I will not suggest any maroons or plum-colored lipsticks.”

I think I got the Burberry lipstick just because he said that!  Just kidding…  He actually tried three colors on me and I fell in love with the one I have right now.  Just like Goldilocks!

I am absolutely in love with the texture of this lipstick; it is smooth and goes on better than any other I have tried.

To achieve that 1930s look –

  • First, use a lip liner (I am not a big fan of lip liners, but for this look you will need one that matches the lipstick) to outline the lip and the edges.
  • Then, using a lip brush, apply the lipstick.  Using a lip brush will give you control on the coverage that you prefer.
  • To tie in the look use minimal makeup but definitely define your eyes with black (or any dark) eyeliner on the upper lid and some mascara.
  • And make sure your teeth are nice and white; red lips make your teeth stand out


The lipstick and lip liner are the only Burberry makeup products I have, but I am definitely interested in checking out their other products.  The last I heard Burberry makeup was only available in Nordstrom.  And since there isn’t a store in NYC, Burberry was planning on opening a counter in the NYC Bloomingdales.

Nusrat Shariff

Hair today, gone tomorrow… Tuesday, Mar 22 2011 

I have often been told that I look a lot like my father.  Being the daddy’s little girl that I am, growing up I loved it when people told me I looked like him.  After some time it was a little bit of a concern because my father (I adore him!) is and as far as I can remember has been on the bald side.  This, however, does not stop him from religiously getting a haircut (if you can call it that) every month and on occasion shows more satisfaction with the results than other days… ‘I think he did a good job with the haircut this time.’  On these occasions I think the barber probably just made a lot more snipping noises with the scissors.

I love my father but as far as hair is concerned I really hope I have my mother’s genes!  I don’t want to have to start worrying about thinning of hair… Yikes! Scary thought!

As always, it’s mom to the rescue!  A warm coconut oil massage every weekend is on top of her list, but I never get around to doing that.  Here is what I do (every few months) to strengthen and provide nourishment to hair that has gone through a lot of blow drying and curling –

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 egg yolk







All you have to do is mash the avocado, add the egg yolk and mix well until you have a nice smooth paste.  You can also add yogurt for more consistency and if you have a dry scalp.  Apply this mixture to the hair (root to tip), leave it on for about an hour and wash off with your regular shampoo/conditioner.

I would recommend doing this on a weekend because this concoction is not the most pleasant smelling.

Let me know how it goes!

Happy hair care,

-Nusrat Shariff

Berry, Berry Beautiful Monday, Mar 14 2011 

Remember ‘freshman fifteen’?

Well, my sister and I gained more like ‘freshman fifty’!  My parents did not recognize us at the airport and my mum’s horrified look when she saw us was priceless.  It looked like someone had messed up her order – I could almost hear her say, ‘I did not place an order for two roly-poly daughters, topped off with zits, and dry and patchy skin!’

She did not waste any time worrying and got to work, more like got us to work.  It was going to be a cleansing process inside and out!  First, we got gym memberships and had to go twice a day, in the morning and evening.   Along with having this juice (made of lemon, honey and warm water) that was supposed to help with the weight loss.  Then there was the daily mask we had to apply for ½ hour every morning to brighten our complexion, which I still go back to when I feel my skin is starting to look dull and needs some rejuvenation.  This is my favorite!

You need to following ingredients –

  • Strawberry – in the summers, it is easy to get a box of strawberries.  For the winter you can buy a box, freeze it and take out one strawberry each time you want to make the mask.
  • Coconut cream – a small can from any store will last a long time.  Make sure to remove the cream from the can into a plastic/glass container and refrigerate it.










All you have to do is –

  • Mash the strawberry and mix half a teaspoon for coconut cream
  • Apply the mask and leave on for ½ hour

… and Voila!! The results are visible pretty quickly, even with just weekly applications – the coconut cream helps nourish and clear the skin, whereas the strawberry helps in the brightening process.

This mask is very easy to prepare and using it before you head out in the evening will give your skin that radiance.  Of course, please DON’T try this if you are allergic to coconut or strawberries!

The Day I Fell in Love… Monday, Mar 7 2011 

… with ‘f r e s h’!

Have you tried out www.spaweek.com? If you have not, then I suggest you subscribe to it asap!  The concept of Spa Week is basically like Restaurant Week where in a particular month you can tryout participating spa services for a reduced rate; this is a great way evaluate spas in your area.

I had heard a lot about fresh products but never got around to trying it out.  A few years back when fresh was offering facials during Spa Week (in New York City), my sister booked both of us an appointment.  The moment the Soy Face Cleanser touched my face, I turned into a devotee and there has been no turning back since.

I was never a big fan of perfumed cleansers and had been using the Clinique cleanser; this would leave my skin a little dry and I had to apply a lot of moisturizer.  The Soy Face Cleanser is a clear (no lather) cleanser that leaves the skin feeling, true to its name, refreshed and well-balanced.  The cucumber in the cleanser wakens your skin with a nice smooth feel to it.  This is definitely one of my favorite products by fresh!

Having used fresh products for quite some time now, I have not wanted to try anything else.  If you are in the market for a new cleanser, my suggestion would be to go to a Sephora or a fresh store and ask them for a sample.  You will not see any immediate effects of the product but will get a feel for it and see if it suits your skin.

And be prepared to hear more about other fresh products that I have fallen for…

Happy skin care,

-Nusrat Shariff


It’s Back to Basics! Monday, Feb 28 2011 

I am at the stage in my life where I am being forced to focus on the effect everyday activities are having on my body, internally and externally.  In your early and mid-twenties your body is like a shield, deflecting everything harmful and the bane of your existence is ‘zits’!  As you roll into your late-twenties and early thirties your body needs a lot more loving and this is the right time to make certain you are providing it with all the care it needs.  Why wait until you see those lines and wrinkle to pay attention to your skin and instead start now, when you can actually prevent them.

Before anything, the first steps towards achieving radiant and healthy skin or hair is making sure you are eating the right food.  At the risk of sounding like your mom (she is usually always right)… what goes into your body is equally, if not more, important as what you apply to your skin and hair.

My daily routine is to drink a glass of milk (skim with a tad bit of instant coffee to give it some flavor) every morning before heading to work.  Drinking milk everyday is something my sister and I have been doing since as far back as I can remember…  When we lived in Bangalore, India my grandmother was very apprehensive of the milk that was delivered to our house and decided that it was not good enough for the girls.  She had this brilliant idea that we would get milk directly from its source; yes, the cow!  So, every day this scrawny little man would arrive at the house with his well-fed cow in tow, and my grandmother would watch over while he milked the cow to make sure he did not water down the milk.

I wouldn’t call these fond memories, funny maybe, but not fond.  Growing up, drinking that glass of milk was the most dreaded part of my day!  Even though the milk was stove boiled for a long time (in-home pasteurization… sure!), it still is one of the nastiest things I have smelled in my life!  The point of the story is that at the end of the day, my sister and I had clear and naturally glowing complexions.

It is really important that you eat healthy meals throughout the day; this is what keeps your body nourished and as a result makes you look and feel great.  A lot of people (I have been guilty of this as well) go without eating proper meals days at a time with the goal of losing weight.  Not eating might help a little with weight loss but at the cost of looking haggard with patchy skin and limp hair.  If you want to lose weight and cover up dull looking skin with make-up, then I guess you can continue what you are doing.

Eating the right food will provide your skin with the nutrients it requires to protect from damage and replenish dead skin cells with new healthy cells; giving your skin that natural glow without having to use make-up.

Here are a few things I like that are really good for you –

  • Milk – a glass every day!
  • Or any form of milk products – cheese, yogurt, etc
  • Prunes – great anti-oxidant and a good source of fiber
  • Almonds – eating these along with prunes is an added bonus
  • Freshly squeezed juices – I prefer orange but any fruit juice is good for you
  • Berries – most berries are anti-oxidants and help erase sun damage to the skin

All these are used in skin care products as components for anti-aging.  By using them externally you can erase the look of lines, imagine the benefits if you ate these on a regular basis.

So let’s start with the basics, ladies…

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