Ask Indrani

Supermodel Indrani Dasgupta turns celeb columnist for t2. and Her first piece had to be on her crowning glory — those lovely curls

  • Published 3.05.15

Let’s face it, we don’t devote half the time or effort to our hair as we do to our faces. In fact, experiments in adolescence and lack of adequate information involved slapping on colours and/or all kinds of coloured products in the name of gels and sprays; in hindsight they may have not been such a smart idea. In Indian metros, hair is exposed to what is now known to be one of the highest levels of pollution in the world. Stop for a second and think how much we do for our face to counter that. Exactly.

Speaking to my friends who are in the know of the hair business, all suggest that a few TLC steps go a long way to a head full of healthy hair:

Oil massage. There are various oils that are supposed to be beneficial, so I mix them all for once-a-week rub. Equal proportions of olive, almond and coconut oils with a capsule of vitamin E cracked into it.

Cleansing. Use a shampoo suitable for your hair type and texture. My hair looks its best washed and conditioned (shampoo + conditioner suitable for curly, frizzy hair) for about two-three days, so that’s how frequently I wash it, followed by a serum and a curl cream. It’s imperative to keep the scalp clean (think of it as an extension of the face).
Hair treatments. It is tempting with all the packs and potions on the shop shelves to reach out for the one that seems like a miracle worker. I know this because I’ve been there doing exactly that. I am now more partial to home remedies. My thought on this is that I want to subject my hair to as less chemicals as possible. I have an Ayurvedic mix of henna, amla, reetha and shikakai. Warning: this is messy and the whole process takes much longer than applying something from a jar. But the effort is well worth it.

Now there are lots of products and treatments that claim to hold the solutions to lustrous hair. Silicone coating has received many eyeballs but my verdict is that it only creates an illusion of healthier hair. My suggestion is to stay away from the fluff and fancy talk, and entrust your hair only to someone you trust like an old friend. And, if I’m curious as to how good or bad a new product is, I try it once or twice. The good news is hair grows back. I have worked with many hairdressers, but the one I let chop my long curly locks was a curly-haired girl like me.

Like any other curly-haired girl, I spent my childhood years wishing for long straight hair popularised by adverts. My BFF those days had just that. Curly hair is a difficult kettle of fish to bring out its glory. My staple style, if one may call it that, was single or double plaits down my back. Boring and unattractive. I thus grew feeling the same way about my hair. The truth is most Indians have naturally wavy to curly hair but there aren’t enough products and advertisements that address the needs of Indian hair, that makes curly hair desirable. So I did what most curly tops do. Kept on hiding it, or, kept getting a blow-dry, which especially in Calcutta is not feasible because of the high humidity. Exposing hair to that kind of heat only dehydrates it and ages it faster. Dehydrated, dry hair tends to be more porous and hence absorbs more atmospheric moisture which then causes the frizz.

In fact TV commercials would most likely use hairpieces and extensions to create heavier, fuller looking hair. It took a compliment from a photographer early on in my modelling career for me to start appreciating my curls. To paraphrase him, he said that my curls will be my best asset in the business, and that I’d be a fool to hide them. It turned out to be prophetic.

Find the right haircut that’s easy to maintain and is (almost) effortless. I now wear my hair shoulder length and both my curls and I are very happy. In fact, I’m most thankful for the volume as my hair doesn’t seem to grow back as fast as I would like it to.

Getting a blow-dry or reaching out for a straightening iron every other day subjects your hair to high heat, which is more damaging, causing premature greying and split ends. If you do have to reach out for a device, seek a curling tong, and high- define your curls. Remember to apply a heat-protecting mist first. Calcutta is an extremely humid city, where it’s not even a probable solution in most months to toil through blow-drying your hair straight.

Prepping curly hair after you wash it is essential. Try to rinse your hair with chilled water after you wash it. This helps to close the hair cuticles. A couple of well-designed products go a long way to nourish your hair. I use a wide-toothed comb to detangle my hair and I learnt the hard way that the only time to attempt this is when the hair is damp. Start detangling from the ends and work your way patiently up to the roots. I divide my hair into four sections and apply a leave-in conditioner mixed with a serum or a curling cream.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that every now and then I do use my Ghd iron to straighten my hair. But I do that now more for a change. I believe my hair is my best accessory on a great hair day. On other days, I will pull it back into a top knot. And probably wear a little more mascara than usual. And I’m pleased to report my curls and I are now very happy together.

Indrani Dasgupta is here to answer your grooming queries.
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