Can a shampoo work miracles?

Except for a brief period in first grade, I’ve always had long hair. I’d go so far as to say it’s become a part of my identity. But as stress, academics, and growing up happened, the condition of my hair quickly deteriorated.

Currently, my hair is weak, dry, and prone to breakage. I’m always on the look out to solve this issue — whether it’s trying (and mostly failing) to take multivitamins, eat more green leafy vegetables (this I do), or a complete switch of products.

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When it comes to new products, I’m always a bit skeptical of ones that claim to work miracles. Let’s be clear, no shampoo can completely save your hair, and you need a good diet + practices to keep hair healthy. But to an extent, shampoos can help not make things worse. And that’s what I was hoping for with Pantene’s new shampoo.

The main questions I have for any new product are:

  1. Will it make existing problems worse? I possess a dry scalp, anything exacerbating that condition (after an initial period where the scalp gets used to it) is automatically rejected.
  2. How much of a difference can I feel? Does my hair look good, and feel better to touch?
  3. How long do effects last? Is my hair showing results with more frequent use? The more effort I might have to put in, the less I’m inclined to it.

So how did Pantene fare for these questions?

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I took a 14 Day Challenge to use Pantene whenever I washed my hair. This amounted to about 5-6 uses where I used the shampoo and conditioner. I also used another shampoo for comparisons between the two.

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The results? The first use with the shampoo left me with hair that felt nicer and more voluminous without being fine (dare I say, thicker?). Next few uses, I saw that the amount of hair that I lose while taking a shower did reduce – which was a relief. And it did not make my dry scalp worse during the testing period.

The sample shampoo I used didn’t visibly make things worse, neither did it work a miracle. My hair didn’t look/feel as nice with it.

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Conditioner on thin hair did weigh it down and reduce how the shampoo made my hair feel, so I recommend skipping conditioner if you have thin, fine hair.

Has it changed my life and stopped my hair fall? No, of course not. But for what it’s worth, it makes your hair look healthier, and feel less brittle & prone to breakage (at least for four days maximum).

Would I recommend it? If you face similar issues, you have nothing to lose. In 14 days, I was impressed by even these results.

In conclusion, hair that looks good, feels good.

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Disclosure: I was sent the new Pantene shampoo + conditioner as part of a product review activity at BlogAdda in association with Pantene . All opinions are my own. 

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Your next skin saver is…

Post exams, my skin is a wreck. Thanks to the long nights, stress, and absent-minded picking of the skin, I’m usually left with new acne and stubborn acne that was disappearing but now decided to stick around for a bit. Plus, the general fatigue around this time leaves me and my face looking and feeling dull. As a person who takes great pride in her skin, this stresses me out even further. 
So I did what any regular person would do: Google. And I found a really easy way to soothe your skin as well as care for it, with just one step. And it doesn’t smell like a salad (cough, apple cider vinegar).  

 
The humble rose water has been around for a long time, and has been a part of beauty routines for ages. This is the beauty potion you didn’t know you were missing. Known as a multitasking miracle, it has so many uses that a bottle will probably run out before you know it. And if that’s not success of a beauty product, I don’t know what is. 
I picked up a bottle from Khadi (while Navratri shopping, no less), and ever since, I’ve used it as a toner at night, post washing my face. Apply some rose water on a cotton ball & swoop over your skin. 

What does it do?

— reduces inflammation: pesky, irritated, angry skin be gone. It hydrates and soothes your skin, and helps your acne clear up faster. Plus, it’s so gentle! 

— smells like a dream 

— sinks into skin quickly, leaving it feel fresh 

— removes traces of makeup (yes, even your most stubborn kajal can he removed with no fuss or irritation

I’ve been using it every night, and my skin feels wonderful, following up with an overnight treatment. So go ahead and pick up a bottle, but make sure there aren’t many preservatives. Pure rose water is your best bet. 

Other miscellaneous uses: 

— after-shave treatment: if you take a razor to your face, you might wanna try this

— add to a bath for a calming soak: perfect for this weather

— makeup refresher/midday pick-me-up: buy a small spray bottle and pour some rose water into it for hydrating your face on the go without messing up your makeup. 

— use as perfume by spritzing on your wrists and at the back of your neck for a subtly lingering scent. 

  
— mix with more Khadi goodness! How about a herbal Haldi Chandan powder face pack mixed with rose water instead of regular H2O? I’m told it’s fab for irritated skin in need of clearing. 

No matter what the use, I guarantee an irreplaceable spot for rose water in your arsenal. And at ₹90 for a 210ml bottle at Khadi, it’s a fair trade + budget beauty win. 

Semester skin, meet your match. 

Dry Shampoo 101 + the RIGHT way to wear it

Full disclosure: My hair is never perfect unless it’s fresh out of the salon. Sweat + humidity cause it to look greasy more often than not, and I’m left salvaging what I can when I don’t have the time to wash my hair. One way I do it is with dry shampoo– a life-saver when you are prone to an oily scalp.

How dry shampoo works is by absorbing the oil with a powder-like formula. Simply put, it acts as a shampoo but without water, removing the grease with no need to rinse. Shake the can & spray it into your hair, at the roots, holding the can about 10 cm away. Part your hair down the centre, and spray. Repeat on side partings, and at the front of your hair, at the crown.
Comb it out.

Please don’t use it when you have a dry scalp, it might make the situation worse. It is meant to be used only for oily scalp situations.

But here’s the problem: when you wear dry shampoo right before heading out, it doesn’t absorb all the grease– making your head look partly dry and partly oily. It can also leave white residue, which is incredibly annoying, because I have dark hair and I’m trying to pretend #iwokeuplikethis.

Granted, it does its job. But I’ve learned the right time to wear dry shampoo is to spray on to the scalp the night before, and comb through. When you wake up, your scalp would’ve absorbed the dry shampoo, removing the oil evenly. It works best when you give it time to settle into your hair. Brush again in the morning, and tadaa, you have good-looking hair that will buy you a few more days before you wash.
Tip: If your hair builds up grease while you sleep, spritz a little on in the morning & comb through as usual.

Dry shampoo is a marvel if you use it correctly. When you’ve got an expensive blow dry and you’re trying to extend its lifespan, try applying it when your hair begins to show signs of grease and oil.

Here are some of the dry shampoos on the market: PicMonkey Collage (2)

(From L to R) Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cheeky Cherry: My tried-and-tested classic; the smell is the best, and it has never failed to make my post-dance-class strands look presentable.

BBlunt Mini Back to Life Dry Shampoo: tiny, portable, and perfect for tossing in your bag & traveling!

Dove Invigorating Dry Shampoo: Also considered a ‘holy grail’ dry shampoo by many.

L’Oreal Professionnel Tecni Art Fresh Dust Dry Shampoo: Micro oils that help absorb dirt + oil!

If you like doing things yourself, try this tutorial for dry shampoo for dark hair, involving only 2 ingredients found in every supermarket!

Hope you found this useful! ~

Brighten up: Beauty Hack

I don’t know about you guys, but waking up is not my favourite thing to do. And when you’ve had broken/little sleep, waking up for college seems to be a gargantuan task (ask my mother, who routinely switches the fan off in a bid to make me get up). It’s okay if I rush into college on some days looking tired.

But there are some occasions where you have to look presentable– maybe it’s an interview, or a presentation onstage. If you are devoid of sleep that night for any reason + overwork the snooze button, how do you put yourself together in a jiffy?

For this mid-week post, I’m going to show you an easy way to make your eyes look brighter– helping you fake 8+ hours of sleep. And you need only ONE product + TWO minutes.

You will need: 

  • A light, champagne-coloured eyeshadow (I used Virgin by Urban Decay, try any similar colour)
    OR
  • A gold eye-pencil

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How-to:

If using eyeshadow,

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Step 1: Apply eyeshadow using a brush to the inner corners of your eyelid, following the line of your eyes.

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Step 2:Use your fingers/eyeshadow applicator to blend out the shadow on the eyelid. Be careful not to overdo it. Only blend on the eyelid, and lightly in the inner corners.

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You should get something like this!

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Step 3: Add eyeliner, if you wish/have time.

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Tadaa!

If using gold eye pencil

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Step 1: Apply the pencil to only inner corners of your eye, tracing along your upper and lower waterlines.
(waterline = the inner part of the eyelids, the lighter skin where eyelashes begin).
If you want to wear eyeliner, wear it before this step.

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Step 2:That’s basically it.

Gold eye pencil can be used in a rush without much fuss, which makes it optimal for your late mornings. Both methods take less than a minute to execute, but the results are fantastic.

Another perk of this hack? You will be more photogenic. It opens up your eyes in a beautiful, yet subtle way, which makes a huge difference in pictures– whether front camera or DSLR camera.
And if you are worried about it being “too much” for any occasion, it is NOT harsh in real life 🙂 

I now swear by this for all days where I face a camera or a large audience. I love this little trick, it accentuates eyes well + is universally flattering.

So why don’t you try it out and let me know how it goes?

You’ve been air-drying your hair wrong…

Raise your hands if you’ve skipped your usual hair blowout due to lack of time, rushed out, and when you returned home, your hair was a mess of frizz.

It happened to me all the time– regardless of what products I used. Air drying is all I have time for in the mornings, and the humidity would make my hair lose any smoothness it had because of conditioning, and the hair would be a mess.

Then I discovered a hack: using an old t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel.

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Since we don’t use terry cloth/thick towels, I figured there would be no harm in trying this out anyway.

Long story short, IT WORKS. 

I washed my hair as usual, and instead of wrapping the wet hair in a towel turban, I used an old t-shirt for the same purpose. Then I headed to college for work, where I put my hair up and forgot about it. When I returned home in the afternoon, my hair had dried and was soft to touch, not frizzy, & shiny to look at.

The coolest thing about this technique? It speeds up your drying time. Cotton t-shirts (especially your old, soft, worn-in ones) absorb more water than your cotton towels. More notably, frizz is reduced by a good extent. I applied no product to prevent it, but there was a marked difference in my hair’s texture and feel.

Make sure you use a SOFT, worn-in t-shirt (the kind your mother thinks shouldn’t even be worn at home).

Try it out next time you wash your hair, and I promise a difference in your hair.

Air-drying, conquered.

Skincare 101: Establishing a routine

I love my skin. I’ve always been happy with it because it was very low maintenance for a good part of high school. But breakouts turned up, and soon enough, I began to learn about skincare and how to set up a regimen that suits my skin. Scouring numerous beauty blogs & dermatologist interviews later, I managed to boil it down to an easy routine that has been relatively constant for the last two years.

Today I’m going to walk you through my routine & give you ideas to establish one of your own, that addresses your skin type and works to clear any problems you might have.
But there are two things you have to remember:

  1. It takes time for anything to have an effect– so don’t get disheartened when your skin doesn’t immediately clear. It has to adjust to the routine, and that will take time. Keep at it for two weeks, and then decide whether you need to alter it.
  2. Not everyone’s skin is the same, so what works for a friend might not work for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

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Daytime Routine

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Simple step 1: cleanse your skin in the morning post your shower. I swear by Neutrogena’s deep clean to get rid of product I applied for night time & provide a clean slate for the morning’s products. I use only this face wash for now, both in the morning and evening, and it does the job well. Dry your face with a soft towel/old t-shirt (genius hack).

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Step 2: moisturise. Now there’s a rumour that you shouldn’t moisturise if your skin is oily. Not true. Your skin secretes oil because it doesn’t get enough moisture.

If you have oily/combination oily skin, choose an oil-free/gel formulation. Dry/normal skin, regular moisturiser will do.

Apply a light layer moisturiser all over your face + neck within a minute of drying your face. A handy way to apply moisturiser is to apply two dots on your forehead, one on each cheek, one on the nose and one on the chin. This helps to not saturate your skin with product.

Alternatively, you can also use a toner after drying your face. Toners work to make your pores (those weird bump-like things on your skin) appear smaller, and can also control oil. Apply some on a cotton pad, and swipe over your face. Moisturise after it dries.

Make sure you let your moisturiser sink in your face before you apply any makeup.

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Sun protection is SO important, not because of potential tanning but the damage it causes to your skin. Prolonged sun exposure causes dark spots, pigmentation and ageing, which are hard to erase. I have yet to find a good sunscreen for the face that doesn’t leave an ugly cast/heavy feel on my face (and wallet). But I make it a point to apply a product with some amount of SPF every single day.
BB cream & tinted moisturisers are godsends. I apply them with a sponge, which speeds up the process and eliminates chances of streaks, and I’m out the door in less than five minutes.

Also make sure you use a good sunscreen for the rest of your body as well. Tons of spray ones are available on the market.

Nighttime routine

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At night, it’s all about taking away the day’s dirt + makeup. After using a makeup remover (if needed), I wash with the same Neutrogena I use for the day. Then I use an overnight treatment– Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. This is one of their bestselling products, and for good reason– it works like magic. A few drops every night on clean skin makes pimple scars fade and my skin looks clearer. For example, if you popped a zit and got some skin hanging, use this. It repairs.

Choose a product suited for night time. They have a stronger formulation than daytime products. L’Oreal, The Body Shop, and Kiehl’s have a good range.

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THIS. This is the step that works to tackle your skincare problems. And the trickiest step to nail.

Now, we all have our own issues with our skin. Acne, for example, is a primary concern for most of us. But in our quest to get rid of our acne, we use a harsh acne face wash every single day. We don’t realise we’re stressing our skin out further.

The solution? Alternate your regular skin treatment with a specific treatment. For me, the night time moisture/repair is alternated with an acne treatment. This product (again a Kiehl’s formulation) is pretty potent, and has salicylic acid, an acne-fighting ingredient. I can’t use this every day, it’ll make my breakouts worse.

What do I mean by alternating treatments? I mean literally alternate. Choose three/four non consecutive nights to use specific products. I use acne products on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays, post a night time wash of my face. You can do the same, or try Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays. The point is to not use it every day.

Alternatively, you could use an acne face wash (Body Shop Tea Tree face wash is amazing!) and a nighttime moisturiser to serve the same purpose.

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Exfoliation = scrubbing. This follows the same principle as specific treatments– moderation is key. Use a scrub/face mask once a week, preferably not on a day that you use the specific treatment. A mask really goes deep and draws out dirt from your skin– it’s not made for everyday use. Use a mask that is made for your skin type. Again, The Body Shop skincare range has something for everyone.

So, this is my skincare routine in a nutshell. Skincare works best when you take care of your body from the inside out, so don’t forget to pile on fruits & vegetables, drink a lot of water, and practice some form of physical activity regularly.

Good skin is always good to have, and an intelligent organ to invest in. It’s the first thing people notice, and caking on makeup is a time consuming process + useless when everything melts off your face in Chennai heat.

Here’s to clearer skin!