9 Homemade Substitutes for Beauty Products You Use Daily

I am sure that most of us have an extremely busy schedule everyday. Given this scenario, we often tend to ignore our beauty problems or rely on market-bought products as a quick fix. The ugly truth is that these products may contain a lot of chemicals that can have damaging side-effects on your skin, hair and overall health. We’ve got some help for you. Here are 9 natural substitutes for your common beauty products that can be easily made at home. You may have not known but some simple kitchen ingredients can work wonders.

9 Homemade Substitutes for Beauty Products You Use Daily

1. Natural Dry Shampoo for Oily Hair

Do you feel the need to wash your hair every other day? Or do you have an oily scalp? Here’s what you can do instead of using shampoo too often.

Ingredients:

2 and a 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch (preferably organic)
3-4 drops of essential oil (lavender or rose)

Procedure:

Mix both ingredients and lightly dust it on your scalp. Wait for 5 minutes and remove the excess powder with a brush. Cornstarch will soak in almost all the oil and dirt leaving your hair feeling clean and fresh.

cornstarch 625

2. Natural Blackhead Remover

Baking powder is great to exfoliate and loosen up dead skin and remove blackheads, and dirt lurking underneath the surface.

Ingredients:  

1 tablespoon baking soda
Water (preferably mineral)

Procedure:

Mix the two ingredients to obtain a slightly wet paste-like consistency. Apply it on your nose and let it dry completely. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then rinse.

baking soda

3. Natural Face Pack for Glowing Skin

This is one of my grandmother’s secrets for bright and glowing skin

. Gram flour is great for improving uneven skin tone and milk has a very soothing effect on the skin.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons gram flour (besan)
1 tablespoon milk (raw)

Procedure:

Mix all ingredients to make a paste and apply the mixture evenly on your face. Let it sit for 10 minutes and then rinse your face with lukewarm water.

besan 620

4. Natural Teeth Whitener

Baking soda is a humble kitchen ingredient that can be used to solve many beauty problems. It is great to remove any kind of stains from your teeth.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon lime juice

Procedure:

Mix the ingredients to form a paste and apply the mixture on your teeth. Let it rest for 1-2 minutes and rinse it off. You should do this daily to get cleaner, whiter teeth.

brushing your teeth

5. Natural Skin Toner

A toner is required to clean the skin. A good toner is one that hydrates, clears and energizes your skin and there’s nothing like fresh aloe vera gel to do all these three things. Cut open the leaf and scoop all the gel out. Massage the gel on your face and neck and let it dry for 15 minutes. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat it dry.

aloe vera

6. Natural Makeup Remover

You don’t need anything else to remove makeup other than a dab of coconut oil. Coconut oil is also an excellent moisturizer and doesn’t make your skin dry like some store-bought make-up removers can. Massage it gently on your face and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing.

coconut oil

7. Natural Perfume

Who doesn’t want to feel fresh and fragrant in this hot weather? Here’s a way to make your very own natural mist.

Ingredients:

8-10 drops of essential oil (rose, lavender etc)
4-5 tablespoons of filtered water
1 tablespoon glycerin

Procedure:

Mix all ingredients well, and put it in an empty spray bottle. Use it whenever you step out for long-lasting fragrance.

essential oils

8. Natural Eye Lash and Eye Brow Enhancer

Fake eye lashes can give a fuller look and even a mascara can help define your lashes but when you can do it naturally then why rely on these products? Apply castor oil on your lashes and brows regularly. Castor oil facilitates hair growth and can make your eye lashes and brows look fuller.

castor oil

9. Natural Wax for Facial Hair

Bleaching is a harsh way to hide facial hair. Instead, we suggest you make this quick and natural wax at home to get rid of facial hair.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup of lemon juice (without the seeds)
2 cups of water

Procedure:

Mix all the ingredients together and heat the mixture for 8-10 minutes till it becomes golden-brown in colour. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down. It will become sticky like wax. Store in the fridge and apple some whenever needed. Spread the mixture with your fingertips on your face and pull gently against the direction of hair growth.

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Now that you’ve found the perfect substitutes for the most common beauty products used, give your skin some natural treatment.

8 Ways to Use Red Sandalwood for Glowing, Acne-Free & Beautiful Skin

Your skin goes through a rough time facing dirt and pollution daily. No matter how lucrative some beauty products may sound, natural ingredients and a home-made pack are still the best solutions. Ingredients like saffron, lemon, milk and sandalwood are known to be great for your skin. Although sandalwood (chandan) is popular as a beauty remedy, very few people know about the red sandalwood. Rakta Chandana or the red sandalwood is one of the finest ingredients for your skin.

The red sandalwood tree can be found mostly in the southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India. The tree is prized for the rich red color of its wood. Just like regular chandan, red sandalwood is also sold in powdered form but it is a bit more coarse. It is primarily used for skin care and beauty purposes. It is very effective in reducing blemishes and treating acne. It also helps in the removal of sun tan and dullness because of its cooling properties. Here are eight ways to use red sandalwood for beautiful and glowing skin.

8 Ways to Use Red Sandalwood for Glowing, Acne-Free & Beautiful Skin

1.  Add few drops of coconut oil to red sandalwood powder and make a paste with it. This can be applied on dry areas for moisturizing them. Wash off after 10-15 minutes. Red sandalwood powder is known to provide nourishment to the skin cells.

2.  Mix red sandalwood powder with lemon juice to prepare a mask for oily skin. Apply this paste all over your face and let it dry out. Once it does, wash it off with lukewarm water. It helps in regulating the secretion of sebum and makes the pores tight.

 

skin 620x350

Red sandalwood is great for oily skin. Photo credit: Istock

3. Acne and pimples happen to be common skin problems faced by most people. A rose water and red sandalwood face pack helps in the reduction of acne and acne scars and also the irritation caused by acne due to its cooling properties. You can even add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of turmeric to the pack for better results.

4.  A pack made with 1 tablespoon of red sandalwood and 2 tablespoons of mashed ripe papaya can help in exfoliation (removal of dead skin). This face pack helps you shed the dead skin and leaves your skin feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

 

skin care lemon

Red sandalwood also helps in exfoliation. Photo credit: Istock

5. Use red sandalwood powder along with curd and milk to improve uneven skin tone. Mix 1 tablespoon of red sandalwood powder, half tablespoon of turmeric, 2 tablespoon of curd and milk each to make a face pack. Apply this all over and let it dry. Later wash it off with lukewarm water and enjoy radiant complexion.

6.  It helps in removal of dark spots and reduces pigmentation. Prepare a simple pack with 2 tablespoons of red sandalwood and 2 tablespoon of milk and apply it everyday.

7.  A pack with cucumber juice or curd with red sandalwood powder helps in removing sun tan. Mix 2 tablespoon of curd or cucumber juice with an equal amount of red sandalwood powder and apply it on the affected area. Let it dry and then wash off. You will see instant results.

8.  Prepare a mask with 2 teaspoons of almond oil, 4 teaspoons of coconut oil and 4 teaspoons of red sandalwood powder. Use this regularly for soft and glowing skin.

almond oil 625

Red sandalwood has many uses in your skin care routine, give it a permanent spot in your beauty cabinet. You’ll find the best quality of red sandalwood in Kerala, so if you happen to visit it, you must buy it for yourself.

Jojoba Oil Benefits: 7 Incredible Ways to Use it For Beautiful Skin and Hair

Jojoba oil is a great beauty ingredient. It is a natural oil extracted from the seed of the jojoba plant is is closest to the oil produced by the human skin called ‘sebum’ that helps protect and heal the skin from external toxins. It is the first defense barrier for the skin. Jojoba oil being the closest in construction to the human sebum is a natural replacement for it. When the body is unable to produce enough sebum to protect against harsh external elements, jojoba oil can be the perfect skincare solution.

Jojoba Oil Benefits: 7 Incredible Ways to Use it For Beautiful Skin and Hair

Jojoba oil contains essential vitamins for the skin such as Vitamin B, E and key minerals such as zinc, copper. In adulthood, your skin tends to produce lesser sebum hence making the skin dry and dull looking. Jojoba is a natural supplement that can be used for your regular skin care routine. Here are seven benefits of Jojoba oil which you probably didn’t know.

1. Retains moisture:

Jojoba oil helps retain moisture in the skin

thereby keeping the skin hydrated and looking fresh. Jojoba oil helps moisturize the skin, without clogging the pores, allowing for a healthy skin type. In addition, it also prevents the buildup of bacteria in the pores of the face, which tend to cause blackheads and breakout of acne.

skin care

2. For soft lips:

For fresh and soft lips, jojoba oil can be gently massaged on the lips to ensure no dryness and cracks.

3. Reduces wrinkles:

The essential vitamins present in Jojoba oil help greatly reduce wrinkles and the visible effects of ageing

. Since jojoba contains no harmful chemicals it can be used as part of one’s daily grooming routine.

4. A natural sunscreen:

Jojoba oil is also applied on the full body, which makes it a good natural alternative to harsh sun screen creams

.

sunscreen

5. Treats skin burns:

Jojoba soothes any burnt skin by going deeper into the tissues and healing them, this helps the pain after a sunburn or tan. With its natural healing properties Jojoba oil is helpful in reducing skin burns during shaving.

6. Good for your hair:

Jojoba oil helps strengthen hair follicles on the scalp causing hair to grow stronger and healthier. The presence of Vitamin E & B conditions the hair shaft making the hair shinier, adding volume and density. The stronger hair shaft prevents hair breakage due to drying wet hair every day. Head massages with jojoba oil help to also condition the scalp which removes scalp dryness. Thus avoiding dandruff and itching.

hair 620

7. Great make-up remover

: In addition to all its amazing all round applications jojoba oil can be used as an effective and natural makeup remover.

All you need to do is take a few drops of the oil on a cotton sob and simply glide it to remove stubborn eye shadow and kohl.

4 Ways to Use Coriander for Beautiful Skin

Did you ever think that the green leaves you sprinkle on your biryani as a garnish could be the secret to your glowing skin? Coriander, also known as ‘hara dhaniya’, is a member of the Apiaceae family. Other members of the same family include celery and parsley. Traditionally, it was an essential ingredient in oils and perfumes too. It is a herb with a pungent smell. The fresh aroma can make you feel instantly rejuvenated. Its anti-septic and carminative properties make it unique.

4 Ways to Use Coriander for Beautiful Skin

What is coriander good for?

Coriander is extremely rich in folate, antioxidants, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Your skin feel soft, supple and radiates glow when your cells are protected from oxidative stress. They can be armored against stress and degeneration with the help of antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent the movement of free radicals in the body, thus slowing down the ageing process. It allows the skin to retain its elasticity.

It is a powerhouse of iron which leads to an increase in the hemoglobin levels in the body and prevents anemia that can cause dull skin. It is a well-known fact that your skinis a reflection of your internal health. Whether your skin is too oily or too dry or even a combination of the two, chewing fresh coriander leaves every morning on an empty stomach is a great healthy practice.

Be it acne or pigmentation, oily or dry skin, pimples or blackheads, coriander juice works like magic. Coriander’s anti-fungal and anti-microbial elements are even known to treat eczema. It is a detoxifier, a disinfectant and even treats dark lips!

According to Dermatologist Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj, “Coriander helps relieve acidity. Due to acid formation, redness, bumps and zits are a common feature. Eating coriander can reduce acidity and thus, help you get rid of various skin eruptions.” She also explains while applying coriander on your face, it is most effective when combined with rose water and oatmeal or sandalwood in the form of face packs. This helps in avoiding any sort of allergies and dryness as a result.

5 ways to use coriander for skin

1. Coriander with aloe vera:

Freshly ground coriander in combination with aloe-vera

can be applied on the skin. This helps to get rid of wrinkles.

2. Coriander with lemon juice:

A combination of ground coriander with some lemon juice when applied on the effected area can do wonders for acne and blackheads. Coriander enables the dead cells to be removed and leads to a rejuvenated skin.

3.Coriander face pack: 

Grind the coriander, add milk, add honey and lemon juice and apply on the face. This face pack will leave you with glowing skin.

4. Coriander with rice and yoghurt:

A combination of ground rice and yogurt relaxes facial muscles and cells and leaves you refreshed. Make a mixture of it and apply it like a mask.

When your skin fails to show a positive response, we know how frustrating it can get. The least you can do is seek comfort in the confines of your kitchen and grab a handful of coriander! You’ll thank us later.

Soups For Monsoons: 5 Ways to Drive Away the Chill and Stay Strong

One look at the stormy showers outside the window, and the thought of piping hot pakodas, samosas and a hot cup of tea comes to mind almost instantly. And why not, after sweating it out for two months, binging on crunchy fried delicacies seems like the reward we all deserve and had been waiting for. But sadly, the damp weather also makes one susceptible to several diseases associated with the monsoon season like cold and flu, throat infections and tummy problems. Your immunity levels tend to be low during seasonal change and your body becomes vulnerable to catch infections. The excess of moisture in the air make it perfect for bacteria and microorganism to breed and this can hamper our ability to process foods and our metabolism tends to slow down. Due to this, our digestion and immunity is compromised severely.

To counter this, you need to fortify yourself from within with the maximum inflow of vitamins. A bowl of piping hot soup can come in handy to make you feel strong and at the same time it offers protection. It keeps your body hydrated and can also be a good source of protein. The flavourful toppings of of garlic, onions, and ginger impart a warm feel and keep you snug as the weather becomes a bit chilly. Talking about the health benefits of having soups, they may help to de-clog your nasal passages and also promote increased secretions which helps in flushing out bacteria and viruses.

Soups For Monsoons: 5 Ways to Drive Away the Chill and Stay Strong

Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood tells us, “Our immunity system tends to take a dip during this season. We are more prone to infections and therefore, our bodies need a constant flow of vitamins and minerals. Soups are great ways to load up on all the nutrition. However, I would advise to go for clear soups over the thick cream-based ones.” According to Meher Rajput, Nutritionist at FITPASS, “Mushrooms are loaded with vitamin D and antioxidants which play a role in building your immunity. You can use them in a hot mushroom soup. Also, chicken and mutton soups are good to derive strength as they are high in protein.” Here are a few healthy soup ingredients that you must experiment with.

 

1. Mushrooms: They are full of B Vitamins, Vitamin D and antioxidants. B vitamins have been linked with healthy immune functions. They are also rich in selenium- a mineral touted to alleviate the risk of severe infections. Mushrooms are a great source of proteins as they contain all 17 essential amino acids required by the body.

 

2. Meat and Fish: Whether it’s chicken, mutton or fish and seafood, all of them are rich in protein. Not only does our body need protein to build and repair its tissues, but it also plays a vital role in boosting white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections. Meat also supplies Vitamin B, zinc and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish and seafoods) is also an essential component in keeping up the body’s defense mechanism.

 

3. Dark and Leafy Vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage, spinach and broccoli are high in vitamins A, C and E, as well as folate, antioxidants and fibre. Try and include them in soups with a hint of aromatic spices.

 

4. Spices: Load up on immunity boosting and anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, mustard, asafoetida (hing), coriander, turmeric, fenugreek (methi), cloves, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. They not only add a fresh flavour to your soups, but also boost your immunity and aid digestion.

 

Here are few interesting soup recipes you can try at home this monsoon.

 

1. Spiced Spinach Soup with Cottage Cheese Croutons Recipe
Recipe by Chef Vicky Ratnani

 

A good old spinach soup loaded with the goodness of fenugreek leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder and topped with crispy cottage cheese croutons.

spinach soup 625

2. Bhutte Ka Shorba
Recipe by Chef Kunal Kapoor

 

A nutritious and wholesome stew, packed with the season’s favourite – corn and a whole lot of aromatic spices.

bhutte ka shorba

Bhutte Ka Shorba

3.Seared Mushrooms and Chicken Broth Recipe
Recipe By Chef Jaydeep Mukherjee

 

A sumptuous broth made with the goodness of chicken and a great variety of mushrooms – button, shiitake, shimeji, enoki, and chanterelle. Wholesome and satisfying.

mushroom broth

4.Tibettan Chicken Broth
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal

 

An authentic Tibetan broth, made with succulent chicken pieces simmered in a flavourful broth with fresh vegetables and spices.

chicken soup

5.Chimney Soup
Recipe By Chef Andy Sharma

 

Easy and quick to prepare, this soul-stirrer is a must try. It makes for an ideal light supper with the goodness chicken, fish and spinach.

chimney soup

Make these soups fresh at home and enjoy them on a chilly evening. Aren’t these the simple pleasures of life?

 

Can olive oil be used for frying? We debunk four myths about this wonder oil

Whether making the heart healthy or regulating sugar levels or bringing with itself vitamins and antioxidants, olive oil is an ideal companion for all who wish to lead a healthy life. Recent studies say it can also help in preventing brain cancer and reduce cholesterol levels. But due to a lack of precise knowledge about this oil, some are reluctant to make it part of their daily lives. This is, to some extent, a result of all the crazy marketing out there: Peruse the olive oils in a typical grocery store and you’ll be greeted by all kinds of terminology.

Some of it is confusing — like “pure” and “extra-virgin” — which is better? Other terms are just pointless — “cold-pressed”, for example, doesn’t really mean much. Basically, all extra-virgin olive oil is cold-pressed. So it’s time we debunk some of the myths about this beneficial Mediterranean favourite.

Factors like olive variety, growing conditions and country of origin create variability in oil colour. (Shutterstock)

Myth #1: If olive oil gets cloudy or solidifies in the refrigerator, it is 100% authentic and of high quality.

Fact: There is no home test to check for olive oil authenticity. Some oils get cloudy in the refrigerator and some don’t. Quality is best checked through taste and smell — authenticity is best-tested in a properly-equipped lab.

Myth #2: A very green colour indicates high quality olive oil.

Fact: Colour is not an indicator of the oil’s quality. Quality olive oil isn’t a generic product. Factors like olive variety, growing conditions and country of origin create variability in oil colour — from pale yellow to dark green — and how fast the oil will cloud or solidify in the refrigerator.

Myth #3: Heat diminishes olive oil’s health benefits; so it is best to use extra virgin olive oil “raw” or straight from the bottle.

Fact: Flavour may change when heated, but the health benefits remain. You can cook with all types of olive oil without losing health benefits because their smoking point is higher than most other cooking oils.

Myth #4: Olive oil cannot be used for cooking, frying and sautéing.

Fact: You can cook on high heat with olive oil. Here, the answer lies in understanding the various grades of olive oil. In India, one can most certainly find three grades of olive oil — extra virgin, classic/pure and extra light and, lastly, pomace, which is a chemically extracted variant of olive oil.

The difference lies in the taste, aroma and smoking point. Extra virgin olive oil has a strong flavour of olives and low smoking point as it is obtained from cold pressing. Pure olive oil is obtained from refining olive oil, so its smoking point is high but has the flavour of olives, so it can be heated and used for cooking pizzas, pastas, sautéing vegetables et al. Extra light has neutral/no flavour of olives and be used for everyday cooking/frying in Indian kitchens.

Your speech may hold clues as to whether you are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Your speech may, um, help reveal if you’re uh … developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, a study suggests.

Researchers had people describe a picture they were shown in taped sessions two years apart. Those with early-stage mild cognitive impairment slid much faster on certain verbal skills than those who didn’t develop thinking problems.

“What we’ve discovered here is there are aspects of language that are affected earlier than we thought,” before or at the same time that memory problems emerge, said one study leader, Sterling Johnson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About 47 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type.

This was the largest study ever done of speech analysis for this purpose, and if more testing confirms its value, it might offer a simple, cheap way to help screen people for very early signs of mental decline. The study was discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London.

Don’t panic: Lots of people say “um” and have trouble quickly recalling names as they age, and that doesn’t mean trouble is on the way.

“In normal aging, it’s something that may come back to you later and it’s not going to disrupt the whole conversation,” another study leader, Kimberly Mueller, explained. “The difference here is, it is more frequent in a short period,” interferes with communication and gets worse over time.

Mild cognitive impairment causes changes that are noticeable to the person or others, but not enough to interfere with daily life. (Shutterstock)

About 47 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. In the US, about 5.5 million people have the disease. Current drugs can’t slow or reverse it, just ease symptoms. Doctors think treatment might need to start sooner to do any good, so there’s a push to find early signs.

Mild cognitive impairment causes changes that are noticeable to the person or others, but not enough to interfere with daily life. It doesn’t mean these folks will develop Alzheimer’s, but many do – 15 to 20% per year.

To see if speech analysis can find early signs, researchers first did the picture-description test on 400 people without cognitive problems and saw no change over time in verbal skills. Next, they tested 264 participants in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, a long-running study of people in their 50s and 60s, most of whom have a parent with Alzheimer’s and might be at higher risk for the disease themselves. Of those, 64 already had signs of early decline or developed it over the next two years, according to other neurological tests they took.

In the second round of tests , they declined faster on content (ideas they expressed) and fluency (the flow of speech and how many pauses and filler words they used.) They used more pronouns such as “it” or “they” instead of specific names for things, spoke in shorter sentences and took longer to convey what they had to say.

“Those are all indicators of struggling with that computational load that the brain has to conduct” and supports the role of this test to detect decline, said Julie Liss, a speech expert at Arizona State University with no role in the work.

She helped lead a study in 2015 that analysed dozens of press conferences by former President Ronald Reagan and found evidence of speech changes more than a decade before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She also co-founded a company that analyses speech for many neurological problems, including dementia, traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers could not estimate the cost of testing for a single patient, but for a doctor to offer it requires only a digital tape recorder and a computer programme or app to analyse results.

Alan Sweet, 72, a retired state of Wisconsin worker who lives in Madison, is taking part in the study and had the speech test earlier this month. His father had Alzheimer’s and his mother had a different type of dementia, Lewy body.

“Watching my parents decline into the awful world of dementia and being responsible for their medical care was the best and worst experience of my life,” he said. “I want to help the researchers learn, furthering medical knowledge of treatment and ultimately, cure.” Participants don’t get individual results – it just aids science.

Another study at the conference, led by doctoral student Taylor Fields, hints that hearing loss may be another clue to possible mental decline. It involved 783 people from the same Wisconsin registry project. Those who said at the start of the study that they had been diagnosed with hearing loss were more than twice as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment over the next five years as those who did not start out with a hearing problem.

That sort of information is not strong evidence, but it fits with earlier work along those lines.

Family doctors “can do a lot to help us if they knew what to look for” to catch early signs of decline, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer. Hearing loss, verbal changes and other known risks such as sleep problems might warrant a referral to a neurologist for a dementia check, she said.

Running on sand is good for your heart and legs. Here’s how to do it right

As a seasonal alternative to pounding pavements or gym treadmills, running on sandy seashores is a good way to train while on vacation while also boosting motivation with a change of scenery. Here’s a look at some of the advantages of running on the beach and how to get ready to hit the sand.

What are the benefits?
Running on sand is an excellent way of diversifying your running experience or workout regime while keeping injury risk and impact to a minimum. Unlike concrete and hard surfaces, sand cushions the foot’s impact on the ground, creating fewer shockwaves that can damage the body’s musculoskeletal structure. It’s therefore easier on joints in the knee and foot, as well as tendons, making them less vulnerable to injury or tendonitis.

Wet or dry sand also creates an unstable surface, which helps to naturally strengthen the muscles that support and stabilise ankles. The muscles will have to work harder to help you gain speed, using more energy.

For beginners, it is better to run on wet sand, which is more compact and requires less intense effort than running on soft, dry sand. (Shutterstock)

Running barefoot on the beach or in the sea – up to mid-calf depth – also helps improve the flow of blood back to the heart, as well as blood circulation, and reduces feelings of heavy legs.

Running up dunes or hills is an excellent way of making muscles and ligaments work harder while also increasing cardiovascular intensity. Just be careful not to strain knees and ankles.

How to prepare

Stick to the same warm-up you use all year round when running in the park, in town or the woods, for example. Build up progressively, starting with gentle sessions on flat terrain and increasing the intensity and the distance little by little.

Running barefoot is perfectly possible and pleasant, so long as the beach is clean and doesn’t have too many pebbles or shells. You can also alternate sessions, with some runs barefoot in water or along the shore, and others wearing running shoes.

Unlike concrete and hard surfaces, sand cushions the foot’s impact on the ground, creating fewer shockwaves that can damage the body’s musculoskeletal structure.

For beginners, it is better to run on wet sand, which is more compact and requires less intense effort than running on soft, dry sand. Note that running on sand is quite different to running in a city or park. Don’t expect to keep the same pace. Steps feel harder and become more tiring more quickly on sand. Make sure you stretch after each session too.

Watch out for high temperatures and the lack of shade when running on the beach. Make sure you stay hydrated, drinking enough water to avoid heatstroke. Protect your skin with a suitable sunscreen and head out wearing a t-shirt, a hat and sunglasses. It’s better to run in the morning or at sunset when it’s less hot and the beach is quieter.

Paying touts for MBBS admissions? It will be cancelled, warns Medical Council

It’s raining text messages on candidates who have qualified National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) this year from touts promising them seats in private medical colleges for anything between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore. Anyone tempted by such offers and skipping NEET counselling, which is mandatory for joining medical and dental programmes, runs the risk of having his or her admission cancelled, a senior Medical Council of India (MCI) official has warned.

He said such candidates would be caught out by the MCI as it gets lists from all state governments of all students who have appeared for counselling and selected their colleges.

“Students who get direct admission by paying money to agents or the colleges can be caught easily and we will cancel their admission,” he said.

While NEET rules mandate admissions only through counselling, many people have complained of a flood of text messages from ‘agents’ or touts guaranteeing seats for money – without counselling.

When this correspondent, as a parent of a candidate qualifying NEET, met some of the touts, most were offering admissions to well known institutes in Uttar Pradesh.

Text messages from touts ‘guaranteeing’ NEET-qualified candidates admission to medical colleges for Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore.

“If you pay Rs 10 lakh, we can get your son admitted to any of the private medical colleges in UP,” one ‘agent’ with an office in a posh east Delhi colony said.

This amount was over and above the regular college fee. Assuring that the admission would be valid, the ‘agent’ promised to introduce the candidate to the chairman of a private college in the state who would accept the amount as ‘donation’.

“My commission is only Rs 2 lakh per admission. If you can bring more candidates, I can pay you half from my share, ie, Rs 1 lakh as your commission,” he offered.

Another ‘agent’ in central Delhi ‘advertised’ a seat in a top medical college in Karnataka for Rs 1.25 crore.

None of the agents, however, said they had access to government colleges though some claimed they could “influence” government counselling as well.

“If the candidate hasn’t applied for online counselling, he will have to pay Rs 5 lakh extra for getting his name included through the back door,” another ‘agent’ said.

Academic experts warn students against falling into such traps. Many candidates with low NEET ranks might find such offers tempting but they should know it is illegal and will land them in trouble. NEET counselling is mandatory and joining a medical college directly can lead to disqualification of a candidate. Any attempts to gain a “back door entry” through an agent will not be recognised by the Medical Council of India (MCI) which oversees medical education.

Counselling of students is being done by the Medical Counselling Committee.

“Candidates have to apply for online counselling and then get all documents verified for admissions. After that they have to give names of preferred colleges and if they qualify for admissions in those colleges on the basis of their NEET marks they will be admitted,” the MCI official said.

“This is the only legal way to get admission,” he added.

Last year, the MCI cancelled the admission of 519 students from 37 medical colleges across the country for taking direct admission to colleges and skipping the counselling process.

These students are now fighting a court battle to legalise their admissions.

A number of medical colleges are also reportedly misleading candidates by asking them to take direct admission through management quotas.

“There is no management quota after NEET was implemented in 2016 and all admissions are through counselling,” the MCI official said.

Out of 12 lakh students appearing appeared for NEET 2017, 6 lakh have qualified.

But according to the website of the Medical Council of India, there are only 59,570 MBBS seats available.

There are 26,000 seats available for BDS aspirants as per the Dental Council of India, which regulates the programme.

Since MBBS is a more popular choice, students and their parents are desperate to try out all possible means to secure a seat.

Delhi University colleges announce fifth cutoff, 10% seats left for those yet to make the cut

Delhi University colleges released the fifth cutoff list for admissions on Monday, which saw most sought-after colleges close admissions to popular course choices.

With only about 10% of the seats still up for grabs, the cutoffs for the few seats that are still available at these colleges for the some of the more popular course choices has not dipped by more than a mark or two.

COMMERCE AND ECONOMICS:

Economics (Hons) has seen a dip of upto 3.5% points at Lakshmibai College, but is closed for admissions at most sought-after colleges such as Hans Raj College, and Indraprastha College for Women (IP College) in the fifth list. However, few seats have now become available at colleges such as Kirori Mal College (KMC) after withdrawals, where the cutoff is set at 96.5%.

Seats are still available at colleges like Ramjas College, Daulat Ram College, and Hindu College. Hindu College has set the highest cutoff for the course at 97.25%, which is the same as that in the fourth list.

Under the fifth list, BCom (Hons) has now closed at Ramjas College and Sri Venkateswara as well. However, the seats are still available at IP College, Gargi, Kamala Nehru and others. Most well known colleges have not reduced their cutoffs by more than 0.5% points.

Seats are still available at colleges like Ramjas College, Daulat Ram College, and Hindu College. Hindu College has set the highest cutoff for the course at 97.25%, which is the same as that in the fourth list.

HUMANITIES:

BA English (Hons) is now available again after withdrawals in colleges such as Hans Raj College and Kalindi College. It has, however, closed at Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), Ramjas College, and Maitreyi College under the fifth list.

The cutoffs for English (Hons) has also dropped by upto 3.5% points. The highest cutoff for English is at Miranda House, where the cutoff requirement is 95.75%, which is 0.5% points lower than that of the fourth list.

For History aspirants, seats have become available in the fifth list after withdrawals at colleges such as Kamala Nehru College, and the cutoff has dropped by up to 4% points. The highest cutoff for History is at LSR, which is the same as that in the fourth list, at 96.25%.

Seats for Political Science are also available at certain colleges such as Kamala Nehru College, Gargi College, and Ramjas College. Though the cutoff has dropped by up to 3% points, it has not dropped by more than a mark or two in most sought-after colleges that still have seats available. Ramjas has the highest cutoff with a requirement of 94.75%, which is only 0.25% points lower than the fourth list.

BA Programme is closed at most well known colleges. However, some such as IP College, Ramjas College, and Miranda House have a few seats remaining, with a cutoff requirement of 88.5%, 91.5%, and 93.25% respectively.

SCIENCES:

Chemistry (Hons) is still available at colleges like Gargi, Kalindi, and Hans Raj. However, the cutoff requirements have not dropped by more than 1% point.

IP College, Gargi, and Kamala Nehru have reopened admissions to Mathematics (Hons) after withdrawals.