Gunjiyas, pichkaris, gulal, thandai and laughter. That’s what Holi symbolizes for all of us but among all the swirls of colorful madness it’s vital to remember some basic safety rules. Sadly, gulal is now passé. Brighter, toxic chemical colors and dyes are often used, and according to experts, these can cause severe skin infections, eye injuries and even hair loss. Renowned dermatologist and cosmetologist Dr. Shefali Trasi Nerurkar says, “The use of synthetic colors during Holi often causes severe skin irritation, dermatitis, burning and redness that can be very distressing. In some cases, the irritation is so severe that it leads to irreversible pigmentation.”
She explains that most water colors have an alkaline base and if splashed into eyes can cause temporary blindness and corneal abrasions. Colors in the form of pastes usually have toxic compounds mixed in a base of engine oil. Chemical colors are also cheaper alternates to herbal pigments and many people tend to opt for them without realizing how toxic these can be.
“But forewarned is forearmed,” says Dr. Nerurkar, as she lists some basic precautions and tips for Holi that you must keep in mind to enjoy the festival to the fullest.
- You should apply mustard oil or moisturizer before stepping out to play Holi. This prevents the color from sticking to skin and allows for easy removal. She also recommends applying a good sunscreen with at least SPF 30 all over your arms, legs and face to diminish the effect of color on the body.
- She also suggests generously oiling strands before playing with colors to form a protective shield on your hair and prevent the color from seeping into the scalp. “Simply shampooing after your fun session is not enough to restore your crowning glory,” she says.
- During Holi, the chances of color entering the mouth is high. “This can affect the color of your teeth. To be on the safer side, it’s advisable to wear dental caps to protect your teeth from getting damaged, especially if you have veneers and caps. If nothing, just keep your mouth tightly shut whenever someone applies color.”
- She also recommends covering as much of your skin as possible while playing Holi. “Wear a scarf on your head to protect your hair. Wear full sleeved clothing and long pants or a salwar so that as little as possible of your skin is exposed.”
- Keep your eyes closed whenever someone is applying color, or better still, put on a pair of sunglasses” she adds. In case color does enter your eye, resist the temptation to rub them and instead splash plain water immediately. “Then use a dropper to apply Rose Water to your eyes and rest them. This will cool the irritation.”
- When all the fun is over, use a good moisturizing face wash on your face. “Holi colors can be very drying and using soap or harsh facewashes can irritate the skin further.” Applying a good moisturizing cream after your bath will also help restore your skin’s lipid balance and soothe irritated skin.
- A simple home remedy to fade stubborn color: Make a mixture of Gram Flour, sweet Almond Oil and Milk Cream in Rose Water. Apply the paste on areas where the color is deepest. Let the paste dry on the skin and rub it gently to remove it.
Protecting your nails is equally important as they bear the brunt of all the color. “To protect your nails from Holi colors, you must apply nail paint,” says Dr. Trasi. Start by applying a top coat for added protection and to prevent staining nails.