Getting sensual at Shahnaz Husain’s

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Your skin should speak for you, says Lulua Merchant. She should know. As an aesthetician, she always has an ear to the ground.

As a qualified L’Oreal expert, Merchant is trained in the best techniques in hair care and colouring. As a graduate from the International Therapy Examination Council and the International Dermal Institute, both based in New York, Merchant’s knowledge is more than skin-deep.

Which is why her parlour, Shahnaz Husain’s Herbal in Koramangala, is celebrating its ninth anniversary come July 16. The city’s best-bred flock to her 600 square feet of solitude. Former Miss India Sara Corner does her pedicure and oil massage here. So does model Lakshmi Menon, businesswoman Anjali Mathews, Anuradha Mahesh of Carbon, Rashmi Amanna of Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, Sameena Mehmood of Headstart School and Vyjanthi Bharadwaj of Wipro.

So what’s her selling point, besides the American attributes? For one, she doesn’t look her age. Many times, she’s been mistaken for her daughter. “When I was at the JFK Airport after 9/11, the immigration authorities didn’t believe I was the mother of a 22-year-old daughter,” says Merchant.

Her skin speaks for her. Which is why she disallows products that come in the way of good skin. “Retin-a is very strong on the skin and has after-effects like pigmented skin,” says Merchant. “I don’t use the tablet Accutane to treat acne because it dries up the oil reserve of the skin and is harmful to pregnant women.”

Besides Shahnaz Husain, Merchant’s Dermalogica products from New York give her an edge over other salons. She has multi-vitamin skin therapy for ravaged, stressed out skin; collagen fibre to remove wrinkles of people over 40; special exfoliation for those suffering from acne and pigmented skin and paraffin baths for manicure and pedicure. “Paraffin hydrates the hands and feet, draws out the moisture from the skin and retains it on the surface,” says Merchant. “I use Shahnaz Husain creams, but the techniques are mine.”
If you want to wear your sensuality, you know where to head.

(Published in City Reporter, 2003)