How to protect yourself during Holi

How to protect yourself during Holi

March 14, 2014

Synthetic dyes and other chemicals used in making the colours sold for Holi can cause mild to very severe damages to your skin.

As they say, prevention is always better than cure. So taking adequate precautions is the best way to counter the ill-effects of the artificial colours used in Holi.

Here are a few tips for pre- and post-Holi damage control. All of these tips may not be possible for everyone to follow. But following even some can limit the damage to the body.

Pre-Holi tips


  • A physical barrier is the best protection you can give your skin.
  • Apply a thin coat of oil on your skin (which includes all exposed areas like your face, neck, hands, feet, etc). Almond oil, castor oil or olive oil are all good options.
  • If you have oily or sensitive skin and you fear that it may break out (that is, cause acne) due to the oil, slather on a thick layer of sunscreen instead. Make sure that your sunscreen has a minimum SPF of 30.
  • Cover your body as much as possible with long-sleeved shirts, T-shirts, cotton pants or salwar kameezes.
  • You can also take a dose of non-drowsy, non-steroidal anti-histamine even before you venture out to play Holi as they can reduce the reaction or extent of allergy, if any.


  • Holi colours can severely dry out your hair and make them brittle.
  • Wash your hair the previous evening and then apply oil liberally all over it. The more conditioning and lubrication your hair has in advance, the better it is for it.
  • Cover your hair. Make use of cap, bandanna or dupatta to protect your hair from being coloured with hard-to-rinse dyes.
  • You can also apply a polypeptide-based gel to partially repel colour.


  • Slip on a thick layer of eye cream around the contours of your eyes. Sunscreen will also be an added advantage.
  • If you wear contact lens, you should take them off before you begin to play with the colours.
  • When somebody is spraying water colours on your face, keep your eyes shut to prevent damage to the pupil, cornea and iris.


  • Colour has the tendency to lodge itself between your cuticles and on your nails, causing them to look dirty, dishevelled and unkempt.
  • To avoid this, girls can put on a dark shade of nail polish before they step out.
  • And just in case this doesn’t work well enough, an added coat of Vaseline will do the trick for your nails as well your lips. Vaseline is the way to go for boys as well.


  • Do not drive if you are high on alcohol or bhang.


Green: May include copper sulphate that can cause temporary blindness and eye allergies

Silver: May include aluminium bromide that can cause various types of cancer

Red: May include mercury sulphite that can cause skin cancer, mental retardation, paralysis

Purple: May contain chromium iodide that can cause various allergies and asthma

Black: May contain lead oxide that can lead to renal failure, learning disability

Post-Holi tips


  • Scrubbing excessively can only lead to blisters, rashes or allergic reactions. Instead, rinse your body in tepid water (very hot water will dry your skin) for 10-15 minutes till the colour drains off by itself.
  • For the colour that remains behind, you will need to take more than one shower. You can use a mild cleanser on your body but avoid using harsh soaps or detergents. A natural home cleanser like milk and gram flour can also work well for your body.
  • Apply a nourishing moisturiser all over your body.
  • In case of redness or blisters, Calamine lotion can be applied.
  • Do not use permanent dyes. If someone has applied it on you, do not rub the face with soap immediately in order to get rid of it, especially when it is wet. Instead, use good quality cleansing milk for removal. It is better than using soap, which will dry up your skin.
  • Wear soft cotton clothes to let your skin breathe.
  • If you are prone to skin allergies, avoid playing with colours altogether. It may sound discouraging but you can have a good time with friends and family after Holi, have good food, etc.


  • Stand underneath a shower of tepid water for 10-15 minutes, or pour tepid water, till most of the colour washes off. Then, for the colours stuck hard on to your hair, shampoo your hair once or twice with a mild herbal shampoo.
  • After the shampoo, do not forget to apply a generous layer of nourishing conditioner on your hair.
  • This will soften the hair and reverse a lot of the damage caused to your hair by the chemicals in Holi colours. Rinse this off after five minutes and towel dry your hair with a soft towel.
  • Avoid hairdryers or any other appliance for the time being.


  • After coming home from Holi, splash a lot of cool water on to your eyes. This will wash away the colours from your eyes.
  • If there is any major irritation in your eyes, it is best to visit a doctor as soon as possible.


  • While washing nails, use a toothbrush and a mild handwash to clean it up.


  • Since your body has gone through so much on Holi, it is essential that you lay off the beauty treatments for a few days at least.
  • Facials, waxing, threading, etc. should all be given a break in order to ensure your skin does not break out.

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Comments (1)
Anurup Reply
March 14, 2014
This is very useful. Right info at the right time.
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