World Health Day is an important occasion to focus on the entire health of your body. Among the organs of the body, the skin and scalp are the first to bear the brunt of sun, cold, heat, humidity and pollution. Common skin and hair care mistakes can actually aggravate conditions, leading to problems like sunburn, dark patches, blackheads, pimples, acne, rash, spots, scars, dehydration, skin-sensitivity, dandruff, hair loss, and hair damage. Skin and hair care should be according to the type and seasons. Beauty guru Shahnaz Husain points out some vital mistakes that we all make with regards to our hair and skin care regimens:

Washing face frequently to get rid of oiliness: Those with oily skin tend to wash their face frequently with soap and water, in the effort to reduce the oily look. This is actually a mistake. Soaps may be too alkaline and excessive soap-and-water washing disrupts the normal acid-alkaline (pH) balance of the skin, leaving the skin prone to pimples and acne.

Using oily creams for oily skin: Facial massages for oily or even combination skin with oily creams is a mistake too. This would further activate the oil glands, leading to problems. If there are pimples, acne or rash, it is a mistake to use scrubs and grainy substances on them.

Leaving on heavy creams overnight: Another common misconception is that cream must be applied on the skin at night and left on overnight. It is a mistake to apply a nourishing cream on oily skin. Even for normal to dry skin, smothering the skin with cream all night does not help at all. The skin can only absorb that much and no more. Leave the pores free of cream, so the skin’s normal repair and restoration can carry on. Whether summer or winter, avoid leaving cream around the eyes all night. This can lead to puffy eyes. Wipe off the cream after 15 minutes, with moist cotton wool.

Skipping sunblock while swimming: Reflective surfaces increase the effects of sun exposure and UV radiation. Therefore, it is a mistake to neglect using waterproof, broad-spectrum sunblock especially before swimming in an open pool or in the sea. Apply sunblock or sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and re-apply it after an hour. The same goes for a vacation by the hills.

Using strong anti-dandruff shampoos and other hair products: If there is dandruff, it is a mistake to use harsh anti-dandruff shampoos. Avoid too many applications. Harsh shampoos disturb the pH balance of the scalp and stimulate it further, increasing flakes. It is a mistake to neglect dandruff, as it can also lead to acne eruptions on the face, back, and upper arms.

Using excess shampoo to get rid of oil: If the scalp and hair are oily, avoid oil applications and wash the hair three or four days a week, using a mild herbal shampoo. In fact, one application of shampoo is enough to maintain the normal balances. Very little shampoo should be used. Dilute it with a little water and then apply. Rinse the hair well with water, in order to get rid of all soapy and oily residues. The hair can even be washed daily. It is not daily washing which harms the hair, but the product you use.

Hair washing and drying mistakes: Avoid vigorous massage and rubbing of the head. Massage the scalp gently, using only the fingertips. Avoid washing the hair with very hot water. Even to dry the hair, avoid rubbing with your towel. Instead, wrap it around the head and allow it to absorb excess water.

Colouring and straightening hair at the same time: The most common causes of hair damage are hair styling techniques that employ chemical lotions, or direct application of heat. It is also a mistake to have 2 such treatments done together, like hair straightening and colouring. Also avoid colouring the hair with a lighter colour, as dark hair has to be bleached first and then coloured. This means double the damage.