All posts by hanemwp

Hair question: How do you keep hair from drying?

Because of the weather conditions and pollution in Cairo, it is very easy for hair to become dry very quickly. There are some short term solutions that one can use to remedy this such as hair masks and conditioners.

However, the best way to start taking care of your hair and protecting it from excessive dryness is to start eating correctly. A healthy diet will mean healthy hair. Garlic in your diet is known to give strength to the hair and will therefore make it soft. Garlic can be added to your food or can be taken in pill form. However, if you are going to take garlic supplements, remember to always check the label for possible side effects.

Also, try to use herbal products to keep hair soft and shiny. Another thing to use is certain types of oil such as fig oil which goes straight to the root and nourishes the hair from within. Be careful not to use other types of oil too regularly as they only provide you with a temporary layer, which is greasy, not soft. Once you wash your hair, it will immediately become dry again.

Don’t forget though, a healthy diet means healthy soft hair!

Image: Tina Phillips /

Make 2nd Hand Look Grand!

Do you remember all those earrings and belts you used to make fun of your mother or older sister for wearing? Well make fun no more. All those big, spangly 1980s belts, or the pretty flowery leather of the 1970s, the dangly earrings, the diamanté of the 1950s: They all look great, and they are all equally ‘allowed’ by fashion editors these days. Antique jewelry is not a particularly cheap area but original jewelry is just that – original. You’re not going to find 15 other girls wearing your mother’s or sister’s necklace, so it’s well worth grabbing them. You should however try to only wear one or two 2nd hand items and keep the rest modern. The important thing about wearing vintage well is that it should offset your modernity, not the other way around.

Boots: The Essential Kinky Classics.

Go ahead and admit it: shoes are difficult to hate. They flatter even on “I’m feeling fat” days, add character to even the most boring outfit and instantly boost your sex appeal.

Even if your passion for shoes doesn’t approach an Emilda Marcos level of devotion, you’ll find now is the time to indulge in trendy styles. We’re definitely experiencing a shoe moment in fashion and what you wear down below may even be more important than the sum of your total outfit.

As fashion trends sway from classic chic to the ’70s to the ’80s in just a few seasons, footwear isn’t crippled by the same sort of style mood swings. Some things just don’t change, like for example BOOTS, the kinky classic footwear. Boots have become Autumn/Winter must-haves. The fabrics and colors may change, but shapes are sticking around for longer than a millisecond.

Some historians point out that boots are the type of footwear most closely associated with war and thereby signal strength. The tall, tight boots that are hip this season may also signal torture. So if you don’t find a tall pair of boots to fit, don’t worry because the mid-calf and ankle styles are just as chic and much less stressful to fit. Although black is the king of colours for boots, textures like pony hair, python and crocodile are hot, too. Stretch suede or fabric adds comfort to tall styles.

Skip chunky, flat heels and go for sleeker boots with narrow toes (semi-pointed to slightly square).

Remember that boots count as statement footwear so you need to make sure that the rest of your outfit contains simple, clean lines.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Part 1: Pleasures and Perils of Pregnancy

So you find out you’re pregnant! You are ecstatic and a little voice inside your head tells you that you only have 9 months (in some cases even less) to brush up on the latest psychological theory on how to avoid turning your child into a psychopath. However your baby’s development starts way before that, in fact from the moment of conception every week is critical to your baby’s development.

In the first eight weeks the brain and spine are developing so you should pay particular attention to your health. By the eighth week the fetus (that’s what they call the baby before its out) is responding to touch. At 12 weeks the fetus is only 7cm long but it’s already beginning to show human form. The moment it really hits a mother (putting a side the ‘Alien’ like bulge appearing) is when the baby moves, usually 16 weeks into the pregnancy. You can start having meaningful conversations when the fetus is 5 months old because they can finally hear you. There is a lot of research that confirms that fetuses can hear in the womb. At 40 weeks, you should give birth to your fully developed baby.

If this is a planned pregnancy then you are in better shape to provide the best environment in the first three months. However it is essential that whenever you do find out you are pregnant, you need to change all those bad habits. The easiest thing to change is your diet. Remember that everything you are eating is going straight through to your baby so provide him with the healthiest diet you can (bearing in mind the strange cravings). There are certain things that need to be stopped all together, mainly alcohol, all types of drugs (including aspirin and prescribed medicines), nicotine and even caffeine. Alcohol and drugs can cause deformation in your baby or make them more susceptible to certain diseases, but worst is that he or she can be born with an addiction and then go through the pain of withdrawal symptoms as their first experience of the world. Smoking (i.e. nicotine) means that you are reducing the oxygen supply to your baby, which makes him or her at risk for lung problems and reduces their birth weight. The one you might not be aware of and for some may be the most difficult to give up (especially those that need that morning cup of coffee before they can make sense of the world) is caffeine. Ok in all honesty there is still contradictory research but since we’re dealing with your baby’s life and future I thought you should know any possible risk.

Unfortunately that’s not all, another biggie and the hardest to control is STRESS. All negative emotions can make the baby’s environment more irritating because of certain hormones that are secreted. If that doesn’t convince you then bear in mind that after birth, the baby may become more restless or fussy which is going to mean less sleep for you. As you can see pregnancy is not as simple as you thought, but before you get obsessive keep in mind that you are trying to give your baby the best start that you can and nobody expects perfection.

Image: Stuart Miles /

Makeup question: How do you stop lipstick from bleeding around the lips?

Well, lipstick will usually bleed if you have smaller lips. If you have fuller lips, it will bleed if you’re using low quality make-up or are applying too much. My advice is to always use lip liner. Lip liner is made from wax and so will stop lipstick from bleeding.

Once you’ve applied the lip liner, apply the lipstick as you usually would and then blot it with a tissue. Once you’ve done that, find a blush or eye shadow that matches the color of your lipstick and put some on your lips very lightly with some cotton wool. I guarantee no bleeding lipstick!

PMS and your Health

Feeling bloated? Feeling anxious for no obvious reason? You burst into tears at the slightest remark. You feel lonely even if you’re in the most loving relationship. You have backache. You’re craving food. We’ve all gone through it; you’re suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).

Electronic hot and cool pack to relieve your pain from menstruation.

According to studies at the University of Virginia, PMS is a group of symptoms that affect a high percentage of females between the ages of 18 to 50 thus making it one of the most prevalent health disorders today.
For many years, women were told that their symptoms were either those of a hypochondriac and were told, “it’s all in your head.” Today we know this isn’t true. Modern science recognizes that there is an underlying cause to these disorders and troubling monthly occurrences, which has been termed Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. The word “syndrome” implies that there are many symptoms which can be experienced due to the hormonal imbalance or reaction of the body to the monthly process of ovulation/menstruation.

Studies have shown that there is evidence that these symptoms are as a result of fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen has an effect on fluid retention in the body. Weight gain, swelling, breast tenderness, bloating are among the few physical symptoms that occur with an increase in amount of estrogen.

These symptoms appear to be different from woman to woman. There is no conclusive diagnostic test for PMS. Therefore, it is difficult to diagnose the problem early enough to begin women on correct treatment. The key for the identification of PMS lies in the cyclical nature of the symptoms relative to the individual’s menstrual cycle. For the diagnoses to be officially one of PMS, the symptoms should appear after ovulation, and end at onset or during menses. The symptoms need to be recurrent to qualify as PMS.

What can be done to prevent the condition?
According to Dr. Eva Martin MD of the University of Wyoming, because the cause or causes are not known, there is no reliable prevention. Because ovulation is required for PMS symptoms to occur, oral contraceptives may prevent many symptoms. But oral contraceptives can worsen the symptoms for others. Other preventative measures may include:

· Eating a healthy diet (cut down on salt as salt worsens water retention)
· Avoiding high carbohydrate meals
· Maintaining normal weight
· Participating in a regular exercise program
· Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoking
· Ensuring adequate calcium intake daily (1,500 mg/day), which is equivalent to 3-4 glasses of milk
· Avoiding events that trigger symptoms, such as stress
· Using anti-inflammatory medications as needed, such as ibuprofen (before taking medication, always consult your doctor).

Image: John Kasawa /

Going to a Wedding?

Everyone loves a wedding. Everyone, that is, except me… and most of my friends, relatives and colleagues. But like taxes and periods, they are unavoidable.

You knew it was coming; the family grapevine had filled you in on the details of the next big wedding. And there it was in writing: The date, a few weeks away; the time, 9PM; and the place, a big 5-star hotel. The thrill? The excitement? … I think not! The thick ivory envelope that once would have promised an evening of dinner, dancing, and romance (or at the very least a good night out) now evokes DREADED FEAR…

Now, it is not that I cannot appreciate the fun (albeit rare) of a wedding; my problem is I find it absurd that people feel everyone needs to be at this kind of event. The Cinderella dream (that dream where everything is “perfect,” right down to the ice sculptures and releasing of the doves) seems to have taken over. The fact that we are also forced to enjoy them boggles the mind — at least this mind!

But unavoidable they are, and so you put on a clown’s permanent grin and off you go. The wedding may be the best night for the bride and the groom but quite frankly it is an ordeal for the guests.

First, the obvious question: “What am I going to wear?” You would probably opt for a new dress as everyone saw you wearing the red dress at the last wedding. You could wear that black number (always a classic) but is anyone going to notice you if you and half the other guests are in black. You decide to buy a new dress. Unfortunately in Cairo, you can count on one hand the shops that sell eveningwear you would actually wear. So you decide to have a dress made. Think of color, fabric and style. Time to go through all the glossy magazines for ideas and find a dressmaker whom you can trust to deliver the dress early enough before the wedding.

You think you have the dress more or less sorted; you now need to book an appointment at the hairdressers. Between work and your otherwise interesting social life you give the hairdresser a call only to find out that he is fully booked on that day because guess what? … All the other guests were far more organized and booked him before you did! After a little flirting (and maybe begging depending on the importance of the wedding), he says he can fit you in but only at 9pm. So you miss the “zaffa”, big deal.

Make–up: you’ll do your own. But then you speak to a couple of friends who tell you they are having their make-up done professionally. You think to yourself “well if I’ve put such in effort into the dress and the hair and I don’t want to have a second hand make-up job” so you book yourself an appointment too.

A week before the wedding, you go for your final dress fitting (or have been super lucky and have found a dress in the shops). The dress is sleeveless and has a big slit on the side. You look at yourself in the long mirror and think, “Hmmm not bad, I’m sure with hair and make up, it’ll be great”. Then… shock horror!! You realize you forgot to call the “halawa” lady! And the manicurist!! Panic sets in as you realize that you have just spent a small fortune for this wedding and that doesn’t include the wedding present! It had better pay off one way or another.

When it comes to seating, that’s another nightmare altogether. Of course etiquette and sensitivities are high in the air, and the seating arrangements might as well be drawn up by the Arab League for reasons of political correctness. The likelihood though is that you will be seated next to that person you’ve been avoiding at Tabasco’s for the past month, or maybe some very conventional looking man in a striped shirt who is so interested in your conversation but just happens to be looking at your cleavage. Worse still, you may be seated next to the person who’s just won the “most boring human being alive award” where you would then be forced to hold that saccharine smile all through the evening. On top of that, you’re not allowed to smoke in front of the adults (even if you’re 35 years old yourself); never overfill your plate at the buffet (doesn’t do much for your image) and never gossip in the ladies room (you never know who’s in the next cubicle). Rules, rules, rules!

Married ladies, you may remember this: the pressure of finding “the one” at the wedding. You have been having conversations with your girlfriends saying things like “oh I hate these weddings, they’re all just meat markets” while secretly you’re dying to meet Prince Charming since you made all that effort to get there. Once there, tante X is just dying for you to meet her socially incapable, spotty, badly dressed son who happens to be of the suitable age for you. You make several trips to the ladies room hoping to be noticed by Prince Charming (oh you know he’s there, he just hasn’t made himself visible yet!). You discretely look around and the only one smiling at you is tante X’s spotty son. In the meantime, every member of your parents circle will give you sad looks of pity as they pronounce that dreaded phrase “o’balek ya habibti”. You just want to vanish into thin air cause you know that if you don’t have a ring on your finger at the next wedding, they will be saying “Eh? lissah mafeesh hagah?”

Unless it was the wedding of a really close friend and was a blast, you wonder to yourself if all that time and money you invested into it was really worth it. You come home with that horrid post-party feeling where your make-up is half done; your hair looks like a dead cat on your head; and your feet are absolutely enormous as a result of prancing around in heels all evening (heels, by the way, I believe were invented by jealous men to make sure their women remained seated next to them at all times!).

You’re cranky, you complain about the fact that it really wasn’t all that great after all and vow to never to make such a huge effort for a wedding again… until that is… the next thick ivory envelope is dropped off at your house.

Image: Timeless Photography /