The annual holiday-festival of colours, Holi, is less than a week away, and as usual, we can expect the traditional promises to be made of renewed friendship, forgiveness for sins committed in the recent past, and a fun-filled day of frolic marked by a splashing of coloured powder, water and balloons.
Traditionally, spring flowers, berries, spices and other plants were used for making coloured gulal and wet colours from flowers like hibiscus etc.
There is no doubt that Holi is one of the most popular festivals of India, but there are dangers associated with the event too, such as the blatant use of inexpensive, artificial and bright colours made with the help of chemical solvents and toxic agents like lead oxide, mercury sulphite and copper sulphate etc.
It is necessary to take appropriate safety steps to prevent your skin or hair from getting damaged.
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, which not only irritates the skin but collects on the scalp too.
Since Holi is played outdoors, exposure to the sun can 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.
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 moisturizers. If your skin is very dry, first apply the sunscreen, wait for a few minutes and then apply a moisturizer.
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.
When it comes to the removal of colours, rinse the face with plenty of plain water and then use a cleansing cream or lotion. 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.
Immediately after your bath, apply a moisturiser on the face and body, while the skin is still damp. This helps seal in the moisture.
If there is itching, add two tablespoons vinegar to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse. This helps decrease 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.
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 five minutes. Repeat the hot towel wrap three to four times.