– by Dr. Apratim Goel, MD, DNB, FAGE, Cosmetic Dermatologist & Laser Surgeon | CUTIS.In
Holi the festival of colors brings a cheer on everyone’s faces. Traditionally, Holi is a festival that celebrates the return of spring – a time when several trees bloom and people played colors with flowers of those tress. However, over the years, with the disappearance of some of these tree varieties from urban areas, the natural colours gradually came to be replaced by cheaper industrial dyes. Today, these colors may contain chemicals and toxins, grease and grime, and sometimes-even glass. These colours contain oxidized metals or industrial dyes and can be very harmful to the skin. Often, the colours are sold loose in the market and consumers have little or no idea about the source of the colours and their contents. This has a negative health effect on people in form of skin rashes, allergies, dry brittle hair, eye injury etc. So, play colorful Holi but take some precautions before and after Holi to keep your skin, hair, eye, nails safe. Here are some skin care and hair care tips for a safe Holi.
Precautions to be taken before playing Holi
- Use natural / herbal home-made colors. Try using herbal & natural colors. Make colors at home experiment with different natural products available like henna, turmeric powder, dry rose petals & other dry petals of flower can be grounded to make powder & used as dry color (Gulal). These things will not harm your skin, instead will have a long lasting beautiful effect on skin.
- Use barrier cream or mustard oil in generous quantity on all exposed parts of body. Let the skin absorb it for 20-30 minutes. Then apply waterproof sunscreen.
- Apply Vaseline inside nails, feet, elbows, at the back of ear. People with sensitive skin should avoid colors on sensitive areas of skin.
- Applying liberal layers of oil on the whole body and the hair is the most common way of protecting yourself from the hard-to-rinse dyes. However, if you don’t want to step out with oiled hair, blend style with functionality by using hair gel. Conditioning the hair, without rinsing it off, is another option.
- For those with history of skin allergy or rash, take an antiallergic tablet on the previous night to avoid skin irritation and rash.
- Oil the hair well prior to color. Massage hair oil generously on scalp and hair length, this will protect hair from excessive dryness caused by colors.
- Try and wear clothes that cover most of the exposed body parts. Also wear a swimming suit under the dress so that it does not hold the harmful colors to your skin.
- For added protection wear cap and sunglasses throughout the water playing. Don’t wear contact lenses.
What are the Harmful Effects of Holi Colours on Our Skin
Playing with colors during Holi is a fun, but can be very harmful to the skin as well, especially people with sensitive skin and tendency for skin allergy or eczema.
- Allergic contact dermatitis to colors and dyes is common. This will show on skin as itching, red rash, swelling and irritation on the area of skin where the color was applied. Sometimes the allergy can spread later on to whole body.
- The dry color powders, the oily pastes and the watercolors all contain toxic substances capable of affecting human health. Disorders like discoloration, contract dermatitis, abrasion, irritation, itching and chapped skin are often mistaken as normal side-effects of Holi. But any color that leads to any of these conditions is harmful. Eczema is the most common type of reaction seen post-Holi, especially if the colors have already caused a rash, thereby making the skin dry and open to chemical penetration. Solvents like lead, benzene, aromatic compounds can lead to dry skin, which is only the primary irritant. Once you rub the skin to remove the color, benzene dissolves the keratin in the skin. Don’t use nail paint remover to remove the colors because the skin then absorbs organic compounds.
- If the colors react or irritate the skin, they should be immediately washed away with running water. While washing off the color, use lukewarm water and keep your eyes and lips tightly closed. In case of any irritation or burning, calamine lotion can be applied. If the irritation persists, consult a dermatologist urgently. Antihistamines, topical steroids or antibiotics can be used. In severe reactions Systemic Steroids may be used.
What are the Alternatives to Harmful Colors?
Use only herbal Holi colors. Its true that you can’t tell people coming to your home to bring herbal colors. However, you can buy a lots of herbal Holi colors and offer to play Holi with them only with your guests. Remember, this may cost you a little more, but your skin and hair will be safe. Moreover, the cost of dermatologist and other medical expenses resulting from use of chemical Holi colors will be saved. When buying herbal Holi colors, feel them. They should be soft and must feel powdery, like talc or refined flour (maida) and not grainy or gritty.
For a cheaper option, you can even make natural colors at home. Here are a few things one can do at home
- Mix haldi powder with besan for a lovely yellow.
- Slice a beetroot and soak in water for a deep pink.
- Boil Marigold or Tesu flowers in water for yellow colours.
- For orange red paste, henna leaves (mehndi) can be dried, powdered and mixed with water.
- For a bright reddish-orange, mix dry sandalwood powder and a pinch of lime with two teaspoons of haldi powder and a few drops of water. Use this only after diluting with 10 litre of water.
- For a vibrant magenta, grate one beetroot, soak in one litre of water, boil or leave overnight.
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