Few proses have been composed about the Bengali woman without mentioning her long, wavy, dark hair. Our thick manes have always been the envy of the rest of the world, and once upon a time Bengali women considered sitting on the front porch of their homes and massaging oil into each other's hair for hours an essential daily activity. The chore would start with thoroughly combing the hair, and end with a tight braid.
In this day and age, however, things have changed. Most of us are too busy (or too lazy) to take care of our hair. A lot of women get away with low-maintenance hair care too, thanks to the genes of their forefathers which have blessed them with naturally beautiful hair. But come monsoon, everybody's hair is tested to the limits. The long bouts of rain as experienced right now are not flattering on anyone's heads. It's at times like these that the cheaters among us realise the importance of good hair care.
Star Lifestyle asked Quazi Qumrul Islam, professional hairstylist and owner of prominent hair and beauty salon Ban Thai, to share his two cents on hair basics.
Treating the wounds
Qumrul divides hair treatment into two categories -- treatment for chemically treated hair, and nourishment treatment. For hair that has undergone any kind of chemical process, such as rebonding, perming or colouring, specialised hair treatments are of utmost importance. Otherwise, hair will become damaged.
For “virgin” hair, i.e. hair that has not been chemically treated, treatments are more basic and depend on the hair type. Some home remedies that are good for everyone include massaging coconut milk into the scalp once a week, or applying a hair pack with olive oil and honey on alternate days for 45 minutes.
People with dry and frizzy hair can mix pure honey and egg yolk together and apply to the hair for its deep conditioning benefits. Make sure to wash off properly. Canned honey contains a lot of preservatives, so pure and fresh honey should be used for this purpose.
Qumrul added that hair treatments are the only way to mitigate dandruff, which never really goes away but can be temporarily controlled through treatments such as hot oil massages. He is wary of medicated and anti-dandruff shampoos, and warns that these shampoos are not meant for regular use if you don't have a dandruff problem as they can lead to hair loss.
According to Qumrul, a common mistake that people make is to use henna on their hair. Henna absorbs hair moisture, leaving the hair dry and brittle. “A lot of customers say they use henna because they feel artificial hair colours do not suit their hair and scalp,” observes Qumrul. “But there really are lots of options out there for hair colour, in terms of brands and types. I urge people to do their research and use hair colour instead of henna.”
Cut, colour, clarity
Qumrul thinks before choosing to colour your hair, the most important factor to keep in mind is your complexion. People with darker skin tones should go for warm colours, while those with lighter tones can choose from most colours. Hair colouring should only be done in salons using qualified and experienced hairstylists.
Secondary factors which are also important include age, personality and profession. For example, the recent trend of ombré hair, where one can choose to have a darker tone at the top and lighter tone at the ends (or the reverse), is a look suited to the younger generation. A lawyer sporting outrageous hair colour might not gain the confidence of potential clients.
When asked about trending haircuts, Qumrul repeats the same concerns. “I don't follow trends,” he says. “You should get a haircut that suits you, not jump into the latest fad. You should consider your facial structure, profession and age. Different haircuts are there to camouflage problems that your hair has, so that you look your best. Going for a trendy haircut that won't suit you at all will instead showcase all your hair problems for everyone to see.”
A common problem Qumrul faces in his salon is people coming in who don't have much hair but want to keep it long. Depending on the volume of hair, everyone's hair has an optimum length. A person with thin hair should keep their hair shorter, while a person with thick hair can have longer hair. Another issue is many people with wavy or curly hair want bangs.
“Bangs are meant for straight hair. If you have wavy hair, you will need to iron or blow dry your bangs everyday to maintain them,” points out Qumrul. “Also, bangs are ideal for people with a wide forehead. But for those who have a small forehead, or wear glasses, bangs are not the best idea.”
One key message
We asked Qumrul if he could give one important message to our readers regarding hair, what would it be? To this Qumrul replied, “They should keep their hair clean.” If your hair is clean, you will be saved from common hair problems such as hair loss and dandruff, and your hair will always look its best. Use shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type and of good brands. People should keep in mind that no matter what chemicals you use or what haircut you try, at the end of the day, healthy hair is beautiful hair.
Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
Model: Arpita and Mou
Make-up and hair style : Quazi Qumrul Islam,
Styling: Tabassum Hridi
It is no great secret that a tropical climate such as ours is the prime suspect for many a fair maiden having a nightmarish haircare routine. Take the stubborn frizz that is common to most hair types in Bangladesh and combine it with the stifling humidity that is inescapable in monsoon, and you have on your hands (and head) a battle that can never be won. Or so it seems. While it is impossible to deny that this is the worst part of the year for anyone seeking the smooth and silky route, it is also true that there are numerous avenues to explore for healthier, happier hair. This week, Star Lifestyle gets together with Ban Thai's Quazi Qumrul Islam, for expert advice on haircare, haircuts and hair colouring.
Photo: Shahrear Kabir Heemel
Model: Arpita and Mou
Make-up and hair styling : Quazi Qumrul Islam, Ban Thai