Holi is celebrated at a time when nature renews and refreshes herself. With a little care, we can do the same and also sustain our youth and beauty.
The dry “Gulal” and the wet colours of today are not derived from natural sources. They contain chemicals, shiny particles of mica and even lead, as well as powdered glass, acids and alkalis. These substances are not bio-degradable. Apart from being a hazard to the environment, they affect the skin and hair adversely. They disrupt the normal acid-alkaline balance of the skin and scalp, leaving them vulnerable to allergies, rashes, sensitivity and eruptions. The skin can also suffer from dryness, flaking and rough reddish patches. These substances also collect on the scalp, causing dryness and itching. The hair texture also suffers, becoming dry, rough and unmanageable.
Reports of scientific research conducted on the colours state, “Harsh chemicals used in the colours can cause itching and lead to eczema or dermatitis. Dry skin leaves a lot of scope for damage from these harmful chemicals as the skin layer allows the colour to penetrate easily.” Since Holi is played out of doors, sun-exposure can also have a detrimental effect on the skin. Apart from harmful UV radiation, sun exposure makes the skin dry by causing depletion of moisture and also tans the skin. The skin can become dry and dull after playing Holi. The report also says that these colours “contain dyes, which are openly sold without any information on their chemical nature and toxicity.”
Therefore, remember to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Use a sunscreen of SPF 20 and above. If your skin is prone to pigmented patches, select a higher SPF. Most sunscreens have built-in moisturisers. If your skin is very dry, first apply the sunscreen, wait for a few minutes and then apply a moisturiser. Or, apply a “cover cream” containing sandalwood, which would give added protection. Apply moisturising lotion or cream on the arms and exposed areas.
For the hair, apply leave-in conditioner or hair serum before playing Holi. This protects the hair from the effects of sun exposure and dryness caused by colours. Hair Cream containing sunscreen is also available. Take very little, spread on both palms and massage light into the hair, or smooth palms over the hair. Or, apply pure coconut oil and massage it lightly into the hair. This also provides protection against colours.
Apply transparent nail varnish on the nails. This helps to protect the nails from absorbing holi colours. Light daytime make-up may be used. Touch up your eyes with the eye pencil or kajal and use a lip gloss.
As we all know, Holi colours contain a number of harmful chemicals, shiny pieces of mica, glass particles, chemical colours, acids and so on. These substances not only irritate the skin and scalp, but can harm the beauty and health of the skin and hair. The colours also affect texture and make the skin and hair dry and rough. The skin and scalp actually absorb these harmful substances and can even lead to toxic accumulation in the body.
As far as the skin and hair are concerned, the real problem is the removal of colours after playing Holi. Rinse the face with plenty of plain water and then use a cleansing cream, or cleansing milk. Apply and massage it on the face. Then wipe off with moist cotton wool. Remember to cleanse the area around the eyes too, using a light touch. A cleansing gel helps to dissolve the colours and facilitates their removal.
To make your own cleanser, take half a cup of cold milk and add one teaspoon of any vegetable oil, like “til,” olive or sunflower oil. Mix well. Dip cotton wool into this mixture and use it to cleanse the skin.
Sesame seed (til) oil can be used to remove colours from the body, massaging it on the skin. This not only helps to remove the colours, but gives added protection to the skin. Sesame seed (til) oil actually helps to counteract sun damage. While bathing, scrub the body gently with a loofah or washcloth. Immediately after your bath, apply a moisturiser on the face and body, while the skin is still damp. This helps to seal in moisture.
If there is itching, add two tablespoons vinegar to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse. This helps to reduce itching. However, if the itching continues, and there are rash and redness, there may be an allergic reaction to the colour. Consult a doctor as soon as possible.
While washing the hair, first rinse with plenty of plain water to wash away the dry colours and tiny particles of mica. Then apply a mild herbal shampoo, working it into the hair with the fingers. Massage the scalp gently and rinse thoroughly with water again.
Beer can be used as a last rinse. In fact, it will soften and condition the hair. Add the juice of a lemon to the beer. Pour over the hair after shampoo. Leave on for a few minutes and rinse off with plain water.
The day after holi, mix two tablespoons honey with half a cup of curd. Add a pinch of turmeric. Apply this on the face, neck and arms. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash off with water. Helps to remove tan and soften the skin.
Within the next few days give your hair a nourishing treatment. Mix one tablespoon pure coconut oil with one teaspoon castor oil. Heat and apply on the hair. Then dip a towel in hot water, squeeze out the water and wrap the hot towel around the head, like a turban. Keep it on for 5 minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap 3 or 4 times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Wash your hair after an hour.
For hands, take 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 tablespoons coarse sugar. Mix together till it becomes a paste. Apply and rub into hands. Wash off after 15 minutes. This removes the tan and softens the skin.
-- Shahnaz Husain