Holi is celebrated at a time when nature renews and refreshes herself.
With a little care, we can do the same and also sustain our youth and beauty. The dry “gulal” and colours are generally not derived from natural sources. They contain chemicals, shiny particles of mica and even lead, which not only irritate the skin, but collect on the scalp.
Since Holi is played out of doors, sun-exposure can also have a detrimental effect on the skin. Apart from harmful UV radiation, exposure to the sun makes the skin dry by causing depletion of moisture and also tans the skin. People with dry skin can really suffer, even leading to itching, flaking and rough patches. Both the skin and hair can become dry and dull after playing Holi.
Remember to apply a sunscreen and moisturiser 20 minutes before going out to play with colours. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 and above. If your skin is prone to pigmented patches, select one with a higher SPF. Most sunscreens have built-in moisturisers. If your skin is dry, mix a little moisturiser with your sunscreen and then apply it. If you wish, you can use light daytime make-up, touch up your eyes with an eyepencil or kajal stick and use a lip gloss.
The real problem is removal of colours after playing Holi. After playing with the colours, do not wash your face with soap immediately, because soap is alkaline and causes further dryness. Instead, use a cleansing cream, or lotion. Apply this on the skin and massage it. 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.
You can also 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 on the face and body.
Sesame seed (til) oil can also be used to remove colours, massaging it on the skin on face and body. 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 with a loofah and remember to apply a moisturiser after your bath, while the skin is still damp. This helps to seal in moisture.
While washing your 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 your fingers. Massage the scalp gently and rinse thoroughly with water again.
Add the juice of a lemon to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse. This helps to restore the acid-alkaline balance of the scalp. Beer can also be used as a last rinse. In fact, it will soften and condition the hair. Add the juice of a lemon to the beer. Pour over the hair after shampoo. Leave on for a few minutes and rinse off with plain water.
The day after Holi, you may have to deal with the effects of sun exposure, like dryness or tanned skin. Mix two tablespoons 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 off with water. Honey is a powerful natural moisturiser and helps to soften the skin, while curd will nourish and restore the normal acid-alkaline balance. It also removes tan.
Within the next few days give your hair a nourishing treatment. Mix egg yolk with almond oil or olive oil and massage it lightly into the hair and scalp. Then dip a towelin 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 or four times. This helps the hair and scalp absorb the oil better. Wash your hair after an hour.
Conditioning with henna will add shine to the hair. To the henna powder, add four teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, two eggs and enough curd to mix into a paste. Apply on the hair and wash your hair after an hour.