Will you ever apply something called as chromium iodide, copper sulphate, lead oxide, mercury sulphite, oxidized heavy metals, industrial dyes, alkalis, chemicals, engine oils, powdered glass on yourself or your near & dear ones? Think again! Probably you have been doing the same every year.
Yes; these are the actual names of the colors people have been using for Holi festival. Not only are they toxic to the environment but they can wreak havoc on your skin. Exposure to these can result in skin allergies in form of itching, swelling, burning, skin rashes; they can also cause chemical irritant contact dermatitis, acneiform eruptions & Hives. Washing these ‘pakka’ colors off with frequent bathing with soaps, kerosene, spirits, acetone etc only makes your skin more dry and irritated. People with sensitive skin, eczemas and those having skin diseases are all the more prone to these damages as their protective skin barrier is already weakened.
Apart from this, they can pose significant health hazards as they are absorbed by the skin & can affect kidneys, liver & cause asthma. If they enter eye it may lead to chemical burn & blindness too!
Most prone to these perils are young kids and pregnant women. Kids have delicate skin structure, larger body surface area & weak immune system. Some of the chemicals can pass through placenta and has potential to affect the unborn baby.
Safer ways to play Holi are by using natural eco-friendly herbal colors like turmeric powder, beetroot powder, indigo etc mixed with rice flour, maida or besan. Red sandalwood powder (Rakta chandan), Manjistha, Wild turmeric (amba haldi) powders come with added advantage of being beneficial for the skin as well. Dried flower powders made of hibiscus, rose, marigold are not only safe but also add a delicate fragrance to your holi color. Best way is to prepare these at home yourself. Be wary of purchasing unlabeled so called ‘natural commercially available holi colors as they can be easily adulterated with chemicals ( if your natural color stains your skin even after washing it off, it’s a good way of knowing that its adulterated). If you are purchasing it make sure you get it from a good reputed seller only.
There will always be some people who will still use the commercially available cheap pakka colors no matter what! To protect your skin from it, better to oil your skin/ hair or apply barrier lotions containing petrolatum prior to playing holi. It’s not necessary to use expensive oils like Olive oil etc. our humble coconut oil, sesame oil work equally well. Keep nails short & apply nail paint if possible to protect your nails. Avoiding too much sun exposure & bathing soon after playing helps well too.
If we may dare add in view of the severe water crunch in our state where many of our fellow Indians are not having water for drinking also, it’s our humble request to play dry holi with natural colors only. Playing holi with the pakka colors will also result in wastage as lots of water will be needed to wash these colors off. Holi is a festival of joy, a celebration of victory over evil. Don’t spoil it and cause harm to yourself and others. Play safe.