Have a Safe Herbal Holi

Shahnaz Husain
The dry “Gulal” and the wet Holi colours of today contain many harmful chemical substances. Among these are dyes, shiny particles of mica, lead, powdered glass, acids and alkalis. These substances are not bio-degradable. Therefore, apart from being a hazard to the environment, they affect the skin and hair adversely. They leave the skin and scalp prone to allergies, rashes, itching, sensitivity and eruptions.
Holi is played out of doors, so remember to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun. 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. Apply moisturising lotion or cream on the arms and exposed areas.
For the hair, apply leave-on conditioner or hair serum before playing Holi. 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. This also provides protection against colours.
The knowledge contained in the ancient texts has not only stood the test of time, but is still very relevant to the modern age. Many herbal ingredients help in caring for the skin and hair after playing Holi. So, celebrate a safe  herbal holi with these tips:
Use Neem oil for the hair. Heat 250 ml pure coconut oil, or sesame seed oil. Take a handful of neem leaves and add it to the oil. Keep in the sun during the day for 4 or 5 days. Strain the leaves and keep the oil for use to relieve itching and scalp eruptions.
Turmeric has many healing properties. It is a natural antiseptic and keeps the skin healthy. It also helps to remove tan. Mix together 4 parts of curd, add one part honey and a little turmeric. Apply on the face, neck and arms daily, for a few days after Holi. Wash off after 20 minutes. It brightens the skin and makes it soft and smooth.
Crush sesame seeds (til) coarsely and soak in water overnight. The next day, strain it and use the milky liquid to wash the face, neck and arms. This helps to soothe sunburn. Sesame seeds have sun-protective properties. They have SPF of 6 and also soothe the skin.
Apply Aloe Vera gel or juice on skin. It moisturizes the skin, relieving dryness. It also soothes sun burn. It contains zinc, which is anti-inflammatory. Take one tablespoon gram flour (besan), one teaspoon  curd and one tablespoon aloe vera gel. Mix together and apply on the face, washing it off after 20 minutes.
Marigold (gainda) flowers help to soothe skin and scalp irritation, which is common after holi. Add a handful of fresh or dried marigold flowers to three cups of hot water. Allow it to stand for an hour. Strain and cool the water and use it to rinse the face and hair. Or, take a cup of marigold flowers. Crush them with fingers and add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Blend well. Add the mixture to warm bath water.
Make Your Own Holi Colours
Simmer Tesu flowers in water. Leave overnight. Strain and use the water to play Holi. Tesu flowers leave a yellow colour. The botanical name of Tesu is Butea monosperma.
Henna powder can be mixed with gram flour (besan) or maize flour (makki) and used as dry green colour.
Turmeric (haldi) can be used both as dry and wet colour. Turmeric can be mixed with gram flour for dry colour. Or, it can be added to water and boiled. Leave overnight and then use.
Boil beetroot in water. This leaves a bright magenta colour. Cool and use the water. Or extract beetroot juice, add a little water and then use it.
Peels of red pomegranate (anaar) when boiled in water gives a red colour.
Red sandalwood powder can be used both dry and wet colour.


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