I am thinking of giving my hair a henna conditioning treatment using neutral henna. What effect will henna have on the hair and will it block the penetration of other products? Will it change the structure of the hair?

There are really two hennas available; the compound hennas, which contain metallic substances, and should not be treated as natural vegetable dyes nor are they expected to work in the same way; and the natural vegetable dye which is non-toxic and will not interfere with the structure of the hair.

The natural henna will cling to the outer layer (cuticle) of the hair, it does not penetrate. It can leave the hair feeling fuller, shinier and easier to handle because of the increased body. For best results, I suggest that you go to a professional colorist who will know what the results are supposed to be for your hair type. Henna should never be used on hair that has been or will be chemically tinted. You can still use your conditioner, shampoo, mousse and other styling aids afterwards.

I have problems with ingrown toenails – only the large toes. I always cut the nails straight across, but they still become inflamed. What else can I do?

Unfortunately, there are people who suffer from ingrown nails even though they do cut nails straight across. This is because of the shape of their nails and toes. Sometimes the square edges bite into the folds of skin to create pressure. I suggest that you discuss the problem with a podiatrist/chiropodist for their suggestions and remedies. If the sides of the toe are fleshy, you may have to cut a very slight roundness on the nail so that it doesn’t dig into the skin.

Other causes of ingrown nails may be restrictive footwear, or pressure on the toes during activity such as squash or racquetball. In dealing with it yourself, try to soak the affected foot in warm water and apply an antibiotic ointment to the inflamed area two to three times daily to eliminate infection.

A tiny wisp of cotton can be placed under the corner of the nail to slightly elevate it and separate the nail plate from the area that is inflamed. A doctor could remove any nail fragment and clean the infected skin. Sensible, wider-fitting shoes would relieve most of the pressure on the nail.