This Holi, Take Care!

safe holi girl
Image Credit:

Perhaps the strongest association of the word “Holi” is with colours. In this festival of colors, we do not wish to miss the fun and at the same time not compromise with our skin/hair. It is an irony that we make so much effort all the year around to keep our skin and hair look healthy and beautiful and on Holi, for momentary fun, we abuse our skin so liberally and allow people to rub anything on it.

Due to chemicals and dyes used in these colours and gulaal, skin disorders like dryness, discoloration, abrasion, irritation, itching and contract dermatitis are common post-Holi.  Colours, in dry or liquid state, can cause a condition called ‘acute irritant contact dermatitis’ i.e. rashes and redness, with intense burning and itching in the exposed areas. They can also flare up existing allergies. Dandruff and acne can worsen, and chronic itching for days afterwards can thicken and darken the skin, a condition called ‘lichenification’.  Dry skin layer allows colours to penetrate easily and Eczema is one of the most common problems that I’ve encountered in patients after Holi. So to avoid any such problems and to have a happy and safe Holi, here are some tips that can help:

Getting ready:

  • Wear clothes covering whole body leaving the minimum parts exposed.
  • Apply thick layer of oil or creams containing petroleum jelly or Dimethicon.
  • Ear plugs for those who have ear problems or play it too vigorously.
  • Colours and sunlight combined may cause a phototoxic reaction, so sunscreens of SPF 30+to SPF 50+ are a must. Water resistant sunscreens are even better choice.
  • Apply additional Vaseline under and around your nails, feet, elbows and behind your ears, by the side the nose.
  • Use a lip balm to protect your lips from getting stained.
  • Trim your nail properly. Use a thick coat of nail paint on the nails and put Vaseline under the nail edges.

For Hair:

  • Try to protect it with a cap/hat or use a scarf or bandana.
  • Oil them one hour prior.
  • You can use serums also to protect it from damage.
  • Tie your hair into a bun or a ponytail to avoid excess damage.

Choice of colors:

  • Use natural, skin-friendly and herbal colours or the ones made by reputed companies using natural products.
  • Use more of red/pink colors – easy to take off.
  • Gaudy purple, yellow, green, orange have more harmful chemicals in them and should be avoided.
  • Strictly avoid silver/golden tubes, greases and other stuff as they are highly toxic.
  • Most dry colours are safe, but avoid glittery ones. They contain silica particles that can abrade
  • Feel the texture of the colour before buying it. It should feel powdery, like talc and not grainy or gritty.

After playing Holi:

  • Wash the colors as early as possible.
  • Do not rub skin vigorously to lighten the colour, rub lemon wedges and then apply wheat flour and oil mixture.
  • Opt for soft medicated cleansers instead of soap as they further dry the skin.
  • Apply moisturizers generously after cleansing.
  • Use plenty of conditioner after shampooing hair.
  • Hair can turn brittle and extremely dry if the Holi colours remain unwashed for long and it begins to break even if the damage is superficial and not to scalp. Put hair serum after the bath to lock the cuticles.
  • A skin rejuvenating oil massage will make your skin softer and cleaner.

Things to remember:

  • These colours make your skin dry, so drink as much water as possible.
  • Use cold water to remove the colors, hot water makes the color fast and it is difficult to get rid of them. Also it can increase the irritant potential of the colors.
  • Avoid using kerosene, petrol and spirits to remove stains, as they will further dry the skin and may irritate also.
  • Do not wash your face again and again. This will make your face dry.Apply moisturizer
  • Avoid sunlight in case the skin is seriously affected, as it will increase the irritation
  • Avoid bleaching, waxing or facial for a week after Holi (even before Holi)

Please do not play Holi if you are:

  • allergic to dust, smoke and dirt
  • already suffering from skin allergies like Contact dermatitis, Atopic dermatitis etc. or any skin infection
  • already taking treatment of skin related diseases and taking medicines like Retinoids that increase your sensitivity
  • If due to some reason, your doctor has advised you not to play Holi

If you continue to have problems:

  • If your skin feels irritated and is itching or burning, wash it properly again.
  • For irritated skin or minor rashes, apply a mixture of calamine lotion. Apply an ice pack on the irritated skin.
  • For a more severe reaction with eruptions, its better to see a Dermatologist immediately.


A Post By : Dr. Prashant Agrawal

Consultant, Dermatology and Cosmetology

GBH American Hospital

2 replies on “This Holi, Take Care!”

Worth reading article, for the people to get aware of the after effects of playing holi with the dangerous fast color.

Thanks to Dr. Prashant Agarwal for such an awesome article on a topic serious but neglected by all of us every year.Please read this article if you really love your skin !!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *