Tips to play safe Holi

Shahnaz Husain
The most awaited summer festival is upon us !
Holi is here and the excitement is at an all-time high because of all the fun that comes along with it. Holi holds a special place in everyone’s heart.
The sacred festival brings an opportunity to connect, rejoice and rejuvenate. Down the ages, people have been delighted to splash colours on their near and dear ones to celebrate the occasion with gaiety and fun. The use of colours during Holi is not just for fun. The traditional Holi colours were extracted from plants like turmeric, neem and Palash and therefore had several positive health benefits.
To make sure that Holi 2024 is the happiest for you, here are a few tips.
Young babies have very delicate skin and immature immune systems. It is best not to put any colours on babies younger than six months because of their delicate skin. A red sandalwood tika should be enough to symbolically celebrate the festival.
We often do not pay attention to the protection of our eyes while playing Holi.
Avoid wearing contact lenses. The harsh chemicals can cause an infection by smearing your lens. Wear sunglasses/goggles to avoid any sort of optical injuries from any misfired water balloons and to prevent colours from coming in contact with the eyes. Avoid touching your eyes while playing Holi. Do not rub your eyes ! Rubbing can aggravate the problems further.
Dress yourself and your kids in full-sleeved clothes to create one more barrier between your skin and the colours.
Moisturizing skin with a natural oil-based moisturizer before heading out to play with colours is very important for a smooth, supple and healthy skin. This creates a barrier between your skin and the colours. It also helps the colours to be taken off easily upon washing.
Remember to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Use a sunscreen of SPF 20 and above on the neck, arms, and whichever part of your body is exposed to the sun.    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. Apply moisturising lotion or cream on the arms and exposed areas.
Apply leave-on conditioner or hair serum on hair before playing Holi. Oil your hair or wear a bandana/scarf/cap to cover your hair.
Hair Cream containing sunscreen is also available in the market. Take very little, spread on both palms and massage light into the hair, or smooth palms over the hair. Or, apply pure coconut oil/mustard oil and massage it lightly into the hair. Oil will make sure your hair doesn't get too dry and the colour also does not go deep into your hair, causing breakage and dryness. This also provides protection against colours.
You’ll need to protect your nails too ! Paint your nails with two coats of good quality nail paint to prevent your nails from getting stained. This helps to protect the nails from absorbing Holi colours.
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 lotion. 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 facilitate 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.  
Use ubtan, a pack made with gram flour, curd and turmeric to remove the colour from your skin gently. This pack will not only help to reduce the colour of your skin, but it will also nourish it in the process and keep the damage away.
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 wash cloth. Immediately after your bath, apply a moisturizer on the face and body, while the skin is still damp. This helps to seal in moisture.
If there is itching, add two tablespoon 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 is 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. It will soften and condition the hair. Add the juice of a lemon to the beer. Pour over the hair after shampooing. Leave on for a few minutes and rinse off with plain water.
The day after Holi, mix two tablespoon of 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 it 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 of pure coconut oil with one teaspoon of 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.
Avoid travelling to overcrowded places if you have any chronic respiratory diseases, and celebrate safely at home.
The author is an internationally famed beauty expert and is called the Herbal Queen of India