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

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

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…

Hello! Monday, Feb 14 2011 

I thought my first entry should be a quick look at what to expect from this blog and a little bit about me… so here goes!

According to Ammi (‘mom’ in urdu) it all started when I was 3 or 4 years old, when we lived in Bhutan; Ammi found me standing on top of a chair in front of the sink mirror rubbing a mango pit on my face.  When asked what in the world I was doing, I apparently said, ‘Aunty D told me to rub the mango pit, after eating the mango, and my complexion would be beautiful!’

Though everyone had (and still do have) a good laugh, Aunty D was actually on point in saying that mango is good for your complexion.  Not only is it good as an anti-aging and nourishing agent, it also increases elasticity of your hair and is one hell of a tasty fruit!  So there… ha!

The reason for starting this blog is because after getting asked about what skin care and make-up products I use by my friends, I thought it would be fun to write about it.  I, of course, made sure by asking a couple of friends if I was being overly presumptuous that anybody would really care, and got a definitive ‘NO’.  And as one of them said that it would be for friends (or anyone) who are interested, not everyone.

An Indian background and growing up in the Middle-East has provided me with a whole bunch of tips & tricks of homemade remedies for the skin and hair.  Also, it does not hurt to get a review about a product from someone who is using it as opposed to an Ad by the brand.

Something to know about me is that I really enjoy learning about nature’s elements and love using the basics to take care of my skin.  I feel natural concoctions (made from things that are already available in your home) that are created at home are more beneficial and effective than most of the products off the counter.  That said, I have come across a few products that have worked wonders on my skin.

So, WELCOME TO SKINESSENCE!! And I look forward to updating this blog with something new and refreshing…