How to get rid of dandruff naturally (Because it happens to the best of us!)

There is this point in the year – every single year – when I I get a little, um, flakey. Yes, for a couple of weeks each year, my scalp goes through a seasonal transition and I start noticing dandruff – and in my dark hair, it’s pretty obvious. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I am not alone. Experts estimate that up to 90 percent of human beings will experience dandruff at some time in their lives. And there is a whole industry out there at work to help you find a solution.

But what if you’re looking for a gentle, non-chemical alternative? One that’s not a sad, stinky concoction of chemicals? Which doesn’t kill your hair while fighting the flakes? Walk through these all-natural DIY dandruff remedies and be prepared to raid your kitchen for some vinegar, lemons and salt. And don’t worry, you don’t need all these ingredients at once… just choose your potion and repeat weekly.

dandruff home remedyDandruff remedies for oily scalps

  • Mix together 2 tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Massage it into your scalp; leave on for 20 minutes, then shampoo and condition normally.
  • Mix together 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 4 tablespoons of gram flour; add enough water to make a thick paste. Massage this paste onto your scalp and leave it on for approximately 30 minutes before shampooing.
  • Mix one part of fresh lemon juice with two parts of warm coconut oil. Massage this mixture onto your scalp; leave on for at least an hour before you shampoo. Added bonus: this dandruff remedy also helps premature greying.
  • Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) to a cup of warm water. Rinse your hair with this mixture after shampooing. It will help treat dandruff, dissolve excess oil deposits on your scalp, strip out any shampoo or styling product residue from your hair and infuse the shine back into dull strands.

Dandruff remedies for dry scalps

  • Combine 4 tablespoons of jojoba oil with 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil and massage into wet hair. Leave on for half an hour, then shampoo and condition normally.
  • Mix together 1 teaspoon of plain salt with 1 cup of yogurt; massage into your scalp. Leave for half an hour, then rinse your hair with plain water.
  • Massage a warm mixture of equal quantities mustard and almond oils into your scalp. Leave this on for at least and hour, then shampoo as normal. This dandruff remedy also effectively treats hair loss.
What’s your get-rid-of-dandruff remedy? Do help all of us here by spilling the deets!

The ONLY makeup you need this spring-summer (your wallet will thank us!)

Spring (and by association summer) is finally here and that means pretty makeup palettes, punchy lip colours, cool-as-pastel eyeshadows and flushed cheeks are fast edging out dark and vampy hues for prime position on the real estate map of our face. And thank God for that – because just imagine a deep and stormy brown lip or gothic black eyeshadow set against the blistering sun? Not a very appealing level of comfort, right?

Instead, think garden-ready lavenders, baby blues, pop-py oranges and cool whites… doesn’t the world look that much prettier and softer with every little swipe? But (and it’s a big BUT) who can afford to completely overhaul their makeup bags to accommodate a whole new season’s worth of lipsticks and eyeshadows? Worry not. Keeping in mind form, function AND finances, I have whittled down the list to 11 of the season’s top makeup must-haves. These are the only products you need to be both cheerfully happy and completely on-trend through the coming months. I promise.

Illustration by Kristina Hultkrantz (www.emmakisstina.com)

Illustration by Kristina Hultkrantz (www.emmakisstina.com)

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color Bar, $50

Two shades of blue, the year’s all-important lilac, a rosy-pink, the essential nudes, graduated whites and a smudgy black gives this palette the right mix of absolutely any and every non-metallic eyeshadow you might need this season.

Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in Gilded Gold, $32

Running short on time? Swipe on a gold eyeshadow and you are done. Seriously. And Stila’s innovative texture is versatile enough to cover the range from smokey to creamy to sheer in seconds, no makeup expertise required. You can even dip in a thin brush and use it as an eyeliner. Plus, it suits every single skin tone. End result: fool proof.

Stila Smudge Stick in Cobalt, $20

Blue, blue and more blue. You simply can’t go wrong with a swipe of blue across the eyes this season. And this intense, vibrant cobalt blue covers all bases, right from morning to midnight. It’s super-pigmented AND waterproof for a highly metallic, sultry, inky intensity that lasts. And lasts. AND lasts.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Colour Pencil in True White, $16

White, in all its crisp and beautiful simplicity, can be very dramatic. And cooling. Unfortunately, there are extremely few makeup brands that have been able to create a white eyeliner that’s both well pigmented (so you get true white in one swipe) and creamy enough not to tug the delicate skin. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ is definitely one of the best and worth every single penny. Pair with dewy skin, lots of mascara and a punchy lip.

NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Timanfaya, $25

Orange – true, strong, in-your-face orange – is your new everyday lipstick colour. For real. You are going to be seeing it EVERYWHERE all through spring and summer. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty difficult colour to apply because the opaque hues mean you need to have a really deft hand to get a clean finish. Plus, it keeps coming off on everything… food, drinks, men… ! NARS’ Satin Lip Pencil solves both these problems with a creamy pencil tip that makes it super-easy to colour within the lines and then settles into a non-budgeable semi-matte finish that keeps going for hours.

NARS TimanfayaMichael Kors Lip Lacquer in Dame, $24

When you want a change from orange lips, turn to Dame – the perfect wine stain for summer lips. Although it looks seriously dark in the tube, on the lips it’s glossy, slick and sheer. Like you have been chewing on some really juicy berries – perfect for blazing afternoons and sultry nights.

Clinique Cheek Pop in Berry Pop, $21

This sheer watermelon shade is perfect for creating a dewy glow that’s far fresher than plain ol’ pink. Bonus: I pat it on my lips to get a quick stain if I run short of lipstick.

Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder, $50

Spring means bronzed complexions – especially with this season’s just-back-from-the-Hamptons vibe – but not the shimmery versions that look fake and in-your-face. Guerlain’s Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powders feel and look like second skin, with its unique combination of bronzing shades and fine pearlescent particles for a sheer and luminous glow.

CoverGirl TruMatch The Luminizer in Gold, $11.99

The sun-kissed-look needs some help to pull off and CoverGirl TruMatch’s balm-like consistency makes it both effortless and natural. Wear it alone, under or over makeup.

Givenchy Le Vernis Rose Addiction, $25

It’s pastel enough to be sweet and spring-y, yet punchy enough to dress up the barest hands. You may just wear this nail polish all through spring and summer, on hands and toes.

Givenchy Le Vernis Rose AddictionDolce & Gabbana Dolce Eau de Parfum, $90

Neroli leaves, papaya flower, white amaryllis, white daffodil, white water lily, cashmeran and sand (yes, sand!) all packed up into a gorgeous bottle… need I say more?

And that handbag? It’s Dolce & Gabbana Sicily Bag whose cane basket look is perfect for a summer on the Riviera. If I buy just one splurge-worthy item this year, it shall be this one!

What’s on YOUR makeup wish list for spring and summer?

Beauty DIY: The ‘reset your skin to factory settings’ face mask (that’s straight from the kitchen!)

There is a reason the humble carrot is figuring so prominently in many skincare products nowadays – the crunchy orange power food is loaded with beta-carotene, or pro-vitamin A, which is often referred to as the “beauty vitamin” because of its importance in maintaining the skin’s health. Add in its potent anti-oxidant, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities and you have a one-stop kitchen wonder that helps clear away dead cells, hydrates the complexion, prevents premature ageing (bye bye fine lines, sagging skin and wrinkles) and sweeps away all kinds of hyper pigmentation, blemishes and their accompanying scars.

In short, carrots make the perfect base for a face mask that will reset your skin to its original sparkling, dewy self by negating the effects of pollution, sun damage, junk food, late nights and (at least in my case!) occasional bouts of pure skincare laziness. Game?

carrot face maskCarrot-y face mask for dry skin

You will need: 1/2 cup grated carrots, 3 teaspoons mayonnaise

How to: Mix together the carrots and mayonnaise, then spread the paste on clean skin and leave on for 15 minutes. Finally, rinse clean with plain water.

Carrot-y face mask for oily skin

You will need: 1/2 cup fresh carrot juice, 1/2 cup white kaolin clay (or any natural clay)

How to: Mix together the carrot juice and clay until you get a smooth paste. Spread this paste on clean skin and let it sit for 20 minutes. Finally, rinse well with warm water.

Have you ever tried a carrot-based skincare treatment? Do share!

Move over, BB: Our skin NEEDS these new Asian beauty innovations!

The BB cream craze? It started in Asia. As did, incidentally, CC, DD and now EE creams. 3D nail art? Skin lightening creams? Asia, too. Bee venom creams? Snail gel facials? Asia and Asia. Infused cloth and hydrogel face masks? Yup, you guessed it right. It’s Asia again.

These days, it seems like Asia knows skincare better than anyone else. And it stands to reason: have you seen those Japanese and Korean women, with their flawless, glowing, envy-inducing skin? In Tokyo, I literally want to cover my face while walking down the street, its ever single blemish and patchy spot seeming magnified ten-fold in comparison. How do they manage this?

Partly, say skin experts, by being especially diligent about their skincare, with a lifetime commitment to natural cures, traditional medicine and healing foods. Glowing, flawless skin is a status marker across most of Asia, and whole tracts of ancient medicine are devoted to keeping it gorgeous. So holistic well being takes the place of chemical-laden short cuts. Result: most Asian beauty brands are built around herbs, botanicals and natural ingredients, as opposed to a lot of synthetics.

And in a cyclical movement, all the money spent on these beauty brands (which is about 7 times more than the average American woman) goes back into R&D in Japan and Korea, to a point where Marie Claire says that Korea is 10 years ahead in skincare innovation. Which may explain why Americans are so fascinated by Asian skin care.

But, finally, whether it originates in Asia or America or Paris or Australia, any skincare product needs one thing to be truly kick ass: it has to be consistently effective. Which is where these 4 new cult classics come in… ready to explore the new (old) wave?

The konjac sponge

These all-natural sponges are made from the root fibers of the konjac plant, which grows in China, Japan and Indonesia. Konjac is naturally alkanine and loaded with skin-boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. As a facial sponge, it can remove dirt and impurities, act as a gentle exfoliant and balance natural pH levels.

konjac-spongeAlthough it may resemble a loofah, the konjac sponge is actually incredibly soft and non-abrasive when wet.You can get the all-natural version or one with added bamboo charcoal or French clay. Use it up to twice a day, with or without cleanser (it will make your cleanser foam beautifully!)… when you are done, just rinse, wring out excess water and let it dry. Added benefit: unlike muslin cloths, it doesn’t absorb dirt or makeup and hence remains 100% hygienic.

It’s quite a minimal product and doesn’t have many bells and whistles – like say, a Clarisonic. But it’s a superb option for gentle exfoliation and deep cleansing, especially if you prefer the natural route. I used one for the first time a couple of months back and my skin was left feeling both moist and velvety. And after a week’s use, my complexion looked visibly smoother and softer.

In Asia, you can find konjac sponges at any pharmacy or beauty store, and they are pretty cheap. Fortunately, international beauty brands are also fast jumping on the konjac wagon, with everyone from Julep to Boscia bringing out a version. Prices hover around $10 for one sponge sponge and it will last up to three months. In my eyes, this makes it an all-round winner.

Sleeping facial masks

Initially, I completely dismissed sleeping masks as nothing but hyped-up night creams. However, a single night with the Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial ($48) was enough to change my mind. Forever.

facial sleeping maskThis has to be the most low maintenance way of scoring a glow-y complexion. Once or twice a week, spread a thin layer of the mask over freshly cleansed skin. Go to sleep, and wake up with baby soft, dewy and plumped skin in the morning. That’s it! They even let you skip the waiting and rinsing that other masks need… just apply and hit the sheets.

While you sleep, your complexion works overtime to repair itself, making this the perfect time to slather on the treatments. Sleeping masks (also known as overnight masks) optimise this process by infusing the skin with moisture while simultaneously creating a humectant seal to prevents that moisture from evaporating.

And no, your pillow won’t be covered in goo. Neither will they feel heavy on your skin or subject you to insomnia-inducing hardness. Instead, sleeping masks just feel like a slightly thicker moisturiser, rather than a drippy face mask.

Some to try: Amorepacific Moisture Bound Vitalizing Masque ($60), La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask ($300), Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask ($33), Aromatherapy Associates Overnight Repair Mask ($82), Zelens Stem Complex ($280), Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask ($24).

Healing minerals

In Korea, bathhouses called jjimjilbang (“healing chambers”) are a common sight. Built with natural clay, salt and semi-precious stones like jade, they are anchored by heated baths infused with sensuous and skin-friendly botanicals like peach flowers, iris and ginseng alongside a load of minerals and antioxidants. You soak for hours, letting the steamy waters work their detox magic, while boosting blood circulation and reactivating the body’s natural rhythms. Finally, you are scrubbed from head-to-toe until there’s basically nothing left to scrub off. Ultimately, your skin is left as soft as a baby’s, with all the dead cells and impurities having been buffed away.

After (literally) centuries, this beauty ritual has been bottled and is now available to enjoy at home. One of the precursors of this trend is the ORG Skincare Organic Mineral Peel for face ($39) and body ($29). Non-abrasive and free of nasty stuff (read alcohol, parabens and sulfates),  simply apply this enzyme spray on dry skin, let it absorb for a few seconds and then off the dead skin cells with your hands. You actually see the debris start to rub off, like in the jjimjilbang. Added benefits: active ingredients in the body peel include aloe vera, jojoba oil and vitamins A and B1, while the face peel also contains skin brighteners like milk thistle and licorice root.

And ORG is not the only player in the market. Pelican Deitanseki Clay & Charcoal Facial Cleansing Bar ($12.95), which also come enriched with clay and carbon powder, is again perfect for ferreting out deep-rooted grime, busting dead cells, exfoliating, balancing pH and detoxifying the skin. Genius, right?

Everything collagen

To be honest, I vacillated quite about putting in this one, since skin experts are still divided about the benefits of topical or orally ingested collagen. However, my personal experiences with the stuff have been pretty satisfying and collagen-based skincare is popping up everywhere.

collagen maskAs you know, collagen is a type of protein that is produced naturally in skin and connective tissue that plays an instrumental role in keeping skin firm and giving it shape. Collagen breaks down as you age, along with elastin, the substance that keeps skin springy, resulting in increasingly saggy and wrinkled skin. Collagen masks are designed to counteract this effect.

Plant-based collagen masks are extremely popular in Asia (I counted 97 different ones in a single Guardian in Singapore!). Usually, the collagen is blended into individually packaged sheets that have a jelly-like texture and are pre-cut in the shape of human’s face (perfect for giving your cat a massive scare – personal experience).

In Asia, collagen masks are seen as the cure-all for premature ageing, fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, dullness, dryness and acne. While I don’t find them particularly hydrating, they do give my complexion a noticeably smoother texture, radiance and freshness. My skin is just tired since I never sleep and collagen masks (Watsons Collagen Masks, $19 and Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask, $57 have been the most brilliant) are great for perking it up – at least in the short term. It’s the long term benefits that I am not sure of so much.

Then there are the collagen “drinks”, another Asian must-have. Taut Premium Collagen Replenishment Formula, $110 for 8 bottles, is a major favourite in Japan, with the highest concentration of ingestible collagen available on the market right now. With regular consumption, the orange-flavoured formula promises to boost skin’s elasticity, thicken your hair and strengthen your nails. Are you game?