How to fix split ends (without cutting your hair!)

Blonde. Brunette. Redhead.

Long. Short.

Straight. Curly. Wavy.

Young. Old.

Thick. Thin.

If there is one thing that ties all these diverse types together, it’s this: Split Ends. Horrid, ghastly, hair-destroying split end. Which turn your strands into straw and make it impossible to either grow or style them into any half-decent ‘do. Yup, there’s no hair enemy as fierce and unyielding as the much-dreaded split end. In fact, hairstylists tell me those frazzled ends are the number one complaint clients cite when they come in for a cut.

What is a split end? When hair is damaged, its cuticle (outer layer) starts cracking and exposing it’s inner cortex. Once this internal structure of a hair strand is exposed, it rapidly becomes weak and dry, leading to split ends. Depending on where it is situated on the hair shaft, a split end can unravel and travel quite some way up the hair shaft.

split endsWhile the only true way to rid yourself of split ends is to have them snipped off, there are several things you can do between salon appointments to improve the look of damage and prevent more splits from occurring. And no, a serum that is supposed to bind the ends back together is not the best idea – it can end up in depositing residue on strands that may actually make them weaker and more brittle. On the other hand, a deep conditioning split end hair mask can help strengthen the hair shaft and reduce damage.

Split ends rescue remedy #1

Ingredients: 1 papaya (de-seeded and skinned), ½ cup plain yogurt

Method: Mash up the papaya and mix it with the yogurt; whip until you obtain a smooth consistency. Apply this mixture all over the hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave for 45 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Why it works: Both papaya and yogurt are rich in proteins and amino acids, which help make hair stronger.

split ends 2Split ends rescue remedy #2

Ingredients: 1 avocado (pitted, skinned and mashed), 2 tablespoons egg whites, 3 tablespoons olive oil

Method: Mix together the avocado, egg whites and olive oil; whip till creamy. Apply this mixture all over the hair. Cover with a shower cap and leave for an hour, then wash hair with a mild shampoo.

Why it works: Avocados are full of vitamins and other nutrients that repair the hair cuticle, while olive oil provides an incredibly moisturizing boost to dry, damaged tresses. Combined with protein-laden egg whites, they make a wonderful treatment for split ends.

Split ends rescue remedy #3

Ingredients: A cup of flat beer

Method: Simply pour the beer into a spray bottle and spray evenly over your hair. Leave on for an hour, then rinse thoroughly and wash with a mild shampoo.

Why it works: The proteins and sugar in beer bonds to your hair, helping to strengthen and mend damaged follicles.

Because prevention is better than cure… !

Imagine wearing a silk blouse every single day – indoors and outdoors, in the heat, cold, rain… everywhere. It would get pretty beat up, right? This, essentially is what’s happening to your hair, which is delicate, fragile and needs looking after on a regular basis. Treat your hair like an expensive fabric, and it will last longer and look good. Treat it roughly and it will seem battered, torn and frayed into split ends. The best way to get rid of split ends is to prevent new ones from occurring. And this is how to do that:

1. Cut out the chemicals

Chemical processes like hair color, highlights, straightening and perms cause trauma that can break down the cuticle. When the cuticle is weakened, split ends are bound to appear at all points along the hair shaft. Try to limit chemical treatments to just one major hair concern and refrain from washing strands for at least 48 hours afterward, when they’re most porous and likely to break and split.

2. Reduce the heat

Heat is often the main cause of split ends as it drastically reduces the hair’s natural moisture balance. Heat also temporarily alters the hair’s protein structure, thereby causing physical trauma. Hence, repeated use of heated tools like flat irons and blow dryers should be avoided. If heat styling is a must, first spray hair with a thermal protectant to prevent split ends.

split ends 33. Preserve the moisture barrier

Deep conditioning with hydrating products is great for split end prevention. These products lubricate the hair fiber and keep it soft and supple. They also shield hair from the harsh sun and other environmental stressors like wind and humidity. Protein treatments, in the meantime, reinforce the cuticle and hair shaft so they can resist premature chipping, peeling and breakage.

4. Use a wide-tooth comb

After you’ve applied conditioner, slowly run a wide-tooth comb through hair until all the tangles are out. This prevents the snaps and breakage that can incur when you try to brush out hair that’s roughed up from a towel-dry.

5. Take folic acid and biotin

It’s true – you are, literally, what you eat. Nutrients are what sustain the structure of your hair strands. Two B-vitamins in particular – folic acid and biotin – have been shown to supplement hair health, length and thickness. Folic acid (green leafy veggies, oranges, soybeans and wheat) helps the production of red blood cells, which power the growth of hair. Biotin (brown rice, lentils, peas, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soybeans) strengthens both hair and nails through its metabolism of fats, carbs and proteins.

6. Get regular cuts

Whatever your hair type or style, experts recommend you get a cut or trim every 6-8 weeks. The longer you wait to trim, the greater chance you have of split ends worsening and traveling up the shaft.

Do you have any tried-and-true remedies for split ends?  Share them in the comments!

The essential guide to prepping for yoga

My recent quest for a healthier existence took me to a yoga school yesterday morning. Where I realised (much to my horror) that it’s quite different from simply strolling into a gym, water bottle and towel in hand. Yoga requires a certain amount of prep-work even before you step into the class and starting a new program can be intimidating. So, I spent the days frantically phoning yoga experts to put together a checklist that will ensure one gets the best out of every session.

1. Don’t eat right before class: Refrain from eating at least two hours prior and 30 minutes after your practice.

2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during and after class. Better yet, drink plenty of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice, which is a terrific detoxifier!

3. Dress correctly: Wear whatever feels comfortable, preferably in soft cotton and Lycra spandex blends, with soothing colours and dry-fast weaves. That said, big baggy clothing does a disservice because you can’t see what’s going on with the body. Tighter fitting clothes, with the ankles showing, let the teachers see your true alignment and make it easier for them to help you with adjustments. Also avoid pockets, zippers, buckles or buttons on the back or abdomen.

4. Do not wear shoes: You could try yoga socks that help prevent slipping, but practicing barefoot is highly encouraged.

5. Bring water, a hand towel and a mat: While you can rent or borrow them at most studios, it’s more hygienic to have your own. Your mat = your germs. Simple!

6. Bring a large towel: Sweat + yoga mats = slip and slide. Draping a large towel over your mat will help you gain traction in poses like downward dog.

7. Avoid “noise”: Go easy on perfumes and don’t be loud or chatty. The yoga space is intended to be a sanctuary where one may go to decompress from the day and as such it’s best to keep it in a neutral, relaxed state.

8. Be on time: You don’t want to miss the warm-up. This is not just a matter of respect but also of safety.

9. Practice common sense: Know your limits and listen to your body. Ask questions if you’re unsure about a pose or movement. Beginners should start slowly and learn the basics (like proper breathing) rather than how far you can stretch. If you have any medical conditions or injuries, talk to your doctor – poses can be modified once the instructor knows your problem areas. And always remember – pain is not good. Don’t push into it, don’t hold your breath. Just get out of the pose.

10. Accept your feelings: It’s normal (and healthy) to sometimes feel emotionally upset during or after a yoga session… releasing tension in the body releases emotions as well.

Finally, don’t give up too quickly. There are many styles of yoga, not to mention different studios and instructors you might prefer if one doesn’t work out.

Namaste.

Who owns what in the beauty industry (prepare to be surprised… very, very surprised!)

Bobbi Brown leaves Bobbi Brown. Jennifer Anniston exits Living Proof. Revlon purchases Elizabeth Arden for US$870 million. L’Oréal acquires IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion. In cash. Coty merges with P&G Specialty Beauty Business, taking on 43 big league brands, including Wella and Max Factor. Estée Lauder brings Becca on board. And then picks up Too Faced for $1.4 billion, making it the company’s largest acquisition ever.

And that’s not even close to counting all the mergers and acquisitions that rocked the cosmetics world in the last year. A year that will go down in beauty history as the epitome of shakeups.

Yes, the beauty industry’s scorecard of mergers and acquisitions seems more laden with intrigue than even the NBA basket ball teams or the Football League. It might surprise you to know that the entire world of makeup, skincare, haircare and perfumes is dominated by a few key players – all multi-billion dollar corporations with ownership over multiple major brands.

Here’s how it breaks down at the beginning of 2017.

L’Oréal Group

The almost-100-year-old L’Oréal group is headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris. It began with the hair colour business, under French-German chemist Eugène Paul Louis Schueller, and employs almost 20,000 chemists today. Nestle holds a 23.29% stake in the group.

loreal-brandsEstée Lauder Companies

The family-run company that began with just four products – Skin Lotion, Cleansing Oil, Creme Pack and Super Rich All purpose Creme – in 1946, is one of the world’s leading cosmetic conglomerates 70 years later.

estee-brandsShiseido Group

Established in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhar in Ginza, Tokyo, Shiseido was not only Japan’s first “western style” pharmacy, it was also the one that launched ice cream in the country. The Shiseido Ice Cream Parlour branched off in 1928 and is still in business today.

shiseidoLVMH

What to say: Seems Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has a finger in every pie, including Sephora, our favourite beauty playground.

lvmhKendo

Kendo, owned by LVMH, is an incubator company that singularly focusses on developing niche brands that end up being retailed by the group-owned Sephora. Next project: Fenty Beauty, a makeup brand created by Rihanna.

brandskendoUnilever

The world’s third largest consumer goods company has a robust beauty arm, with standouts like Kate Somerville, Murad and Vaseline. It’s of British-Dutch origin and is co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London.

brandsunileverProctor & Gamble

The US-based multinational just divested itself of around 100 brands, many of those in the beauty segment going to the Coty Group. The logic was to streamline the company and concentrate on the approximately 65 brands that contribute 95% of the group’s profits.

brandspgJohnson & Johnson

The 130-year-old consumer goods company is a model of sustainable development. It was ranked third among the United States’s largest companies in Newsweek’s “Green Rankings”, based on its constantly-evolving environment friendly policies.

brandsjjBeiersdorf

This German company runs the gamut from mass beauty like Nivea to a prestige brand like La Prairie.

brandsbeiserdorfCoty

Coty’s $12.5 billion merger with Proctor & Gamble’s Specialty Beauty Business last year has made it the world’s third largest beauty company.

cotyKao

This Japanese company is going truly multinational, in the way it’s picking up British classics like Molton Brown and John Frieda.

brandskao

If you want to see the evolution of the beauty industry, here is my older post containing the stack-ups in 2015. It’s interesting to see how things have moved around, much like the NFL tables!

Which of these surprised you the most? Is there anything I have left out? Tell me in the comments section below!

Time to let go…

This one’s going to be personal. Because I am a writer. And the only way I can let go of things and emotions is by pouring them out on paper. Or actually a computer screen. And today I’ve got to let go of something big. Something’s that been a part of me since the very beginning. Something that’s literally a part of who I am, even though I might have forgotten that in the madness of daily living.

But first tell me, where’s home for you? Is it the sepia-memoried place you grew up? The crazy single girl’s pad of college days? The shiny new apartment you rented at the beginning of your career? The solid house you bought with that big promotion? The I-am-now-grown-up flat you moved into after getting married? The comfortable place where your parents live? Which one of these is home? One of them? All of them? None of them?

Like most people of the 21st century, I’ve lived in a lot of houses. But really only three of them have been home. And today even my last link to the first one of them went away forever.

It was a rambling old bungalow in Lucknow, a colorful, vibrant and crazily chaotic city in Northern India. We went there to visit my paternal grandparents every single year for every holiday, till I hit adulthood. Every summer would be spent there, four weeks reconciling the pace of our urban, multi-cultural lives with the traditions of Indian living.

Holi, Dussehra, Diwali, women who ruled the kitchen, men who brought home the bread (or the khasta kachori), copious amounts of chaat and jalebis (traditional Indian snacks), ever-overflowing trays of piping hot tea, mammoth Ambassador cars, rickshaw rides, loads of giggling, gossiping, family politics and all-around communal living with countless uncles, aunts and cousins packed into one sprawling space… this was my connect with the India of my roots. My heritage, which would be embraced for a few glorious weeks and then packed away for the rest of the year when we returned to our regular lives.

kamla-charanNo, don’t get me wrong. I am under no delusion that traditional living is preferable to today’s multi-cultural, multi-national ethos. Times change and we have to change with them. That’s something my grandmother taught me, right in the middle of those summery childhood days. And my grandmother, with whom I have battled and made up more times that either of us could remember, was someone you really couldn’t ignore. Headstrong, intellectual, superbly well read and with her own ideas on how to do most things, she was pretty much the total antithesis of what one expects from an Indian woman.

Rather than exhorting me to pray to an endless number of Gods, she taught me never to conduct empty rituals without first understanding their core. She was never the kind of grandmother who cocooned me in fuzzy fairytales and loaded me with sweets and ice creams. She didn’t spend evenings pushing me on a swing.

Instead, she was the kind of grandmother who taught me how to be strong, how to be independent, how to meet life on my own terms. She taught me never to be apologetic for being myself, for following my own path. She led by example to prove there’s nothing a woman can’t do just as well as men, whether it’s to fire a pistol or manage her own life. She taught me how to fight but you also taught me how to forgive. To never stop looking for answers. And for that I will always be grateful… because fairytales fade but strength remains. 

Grandmom, you were one of the strongest women I ever knew. I am proud to be your granddaughter and am grateful for all the years we had together. But now it’s time for you to rest, to be free of the unbearable pain that consumed you. Rest in peace dadi… you’ve earned your repose.

kamla-charan-my-grandmom