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Happy Holi! This season play it safe with organic colors

Apply almond oil on your face and other exposed parts of body and hair — and braid your hair if possible. Besides being a nourishment agent with high levels of vitamin E, almond oil also forms a protective layer on your skin and hair and saves you from the damage of chemical colour.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima SiddiquiBy Saima Siddiqui

Published on 20 March 2019 7:15 AM GMT

Happy Holi! This season play it safe with organic colors
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Lucknow: Happy Holi to all. As the festival of colors is around the corner and we Indians love to paint each other with colours. But in the festive mood we often forget how adversely it can effect our health and environment, if we use synthetic colours. So, this season before using ‘pichkaris’ and balloons to paint someone try to keep organic colors handy.

With increasing environment pollution and people developing severe allergic reactions to synthetic colours, there is a need for awareness among people to opt for organic variants.

According to a Delhi-based manufacturer of organic colours the unorganised market of Holi colour stands approximately at Rs 4,500-crore where the share of the organic variety is miniscule but due to growing awareness its increasing.

The adverse effects of synthetic colours was observed in a study titled ‘The Holi Dermatoses’, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology. It found a spate in skin diseases following the spring festival in India.

In the study conducted on 42 patients in Kolkata, 11 patients suffered due to activities related to preparation of colours and 12 reported aggravation of pre-existing dermatoses.

Nearly 60% patients reported itching, while others reported to have suffered from a burning sensation, scaling, redness and watering of the eyes, as per the study.

Treading on a eco-friendly and skin-friendly path, Avacayam Naturals employed differently-abled persons to make organic colours by using waste and used flowers and leaves. This solves three purposes at one go - generates employment for the disabled, manufactures harmless eco-friendly colours, and there is optimal usage of waste flowers.

“For making the colours, we collect used flowers - roses, marigolds, and others - and leaves from temples, weddings, and hotels,” said Puri.

Avacayam Naturals, one of the programs that Puri started under her “Trash to Cash” scheme, makes four colours: Pink from roses, yellow from yellow marigolds, orange from orange marigolds, and green from leaves.

On being asked if the colours are harmless, she said: “Rather than damaging the environment, they are beneficial as each packet of colour is made from waste flowers which otherwise would dirty the place.”

The process of colour making

“After the flowers are collected, the workers sort them in different baskets according to their colour. Then, the petals and seed pods are separated and cut. These are then spread out to dry in a well ventilated space for all the moisture to evaporate.

“After that, they are ground and processed - without adding any chemicals - to be made into colours for people to enjoy,” Puri said, adding that the process of collection, drying, and grinding continues throughout the year but it is only before festivals that they process them into the final product.

“In a year, we manufacture around 20 tonne of pure organic colour, some of which is sold to Walmart India. One kilo of colour is sold between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000.”

When asked about the expiry date of these colours, Puri said: “The product is a dry one and completely natural. We have been testing them since five years now and have not found any deterioration in the quality, fungal infestations, or weevils. So there is no ‘expiry date’ to them.”

Another such manufacturer is Jaipur-based Red Earth which makes colours “exclusively from edible materials and scent them with pure, traditional attars”.

According to Director-Owner of Red Earth, Himanshu Verma said: “Every 2-3 years, we change our colour palette... this year we have four colours - Sunahra Dhamaal, Shvet Abeer, Neem Sanrachna, and Gulabi Nagariya -- that are inspired by local materials.”

“The colours are curated on the basis of availability of local materials. We use items like camphor, neem, mehendi, multani-mitti, geru powder, arrowroot, flour, and others,” Verma said, adding that 50-60% materials used are edible so that even if someone ingests them by mistake, they will not be as harmful.

Tips to save hair, skin, eyes from ill-effects of Holi colours

To start with pre-care, you cannot afford to ignore your ear lobes and nails.

-Apply oil in and around your ear lobes and placing a small ball of cotton into your ears before you go out to play so that your inner ear is well protected.

-Always clip your nails because there is no way that you can protect your nails if they are long; and apply a dark nail paint to protect your nails. Colours will come off easily when you remove nail polish.

-It’s best to avoid shaving 2-3 days before to prevent colours from clogging the pores.

-Apply almond oil on your face and other exposed parts of body and hair — and braid your hair if possible. Besides being a nourishment agent with high levels of vitamin E, almond oil also forms a protective layer on your skin and hair and saves you from the damage of chemical colour.

-Rubbing Coconut oil on your entire body before you step out to play Holi will act as a moisturiser and an anti-inflammatory, and prevent sun damage. And as it contains vitamins A, B and E, it will also help nourish your skin.

-A common suggestion by all the experts is that a good sunscreen, with an SPF factor of at least 40, is a must-do, just half an hour before leaving the house.

-Expecting mothers can opt for a pomegranate or jojoba oil as these natural oils are safe to use on the face and protect pores.

-Do not neglect your hair on the occasion, which somehow many forget about and then repent.

-One must do deep champi (massage) in the days preceding Holi to prepare the hair and scalp for the festival. You can also apply a layer of hair serums after wash to protect it from colours and sun.

-For straight hair, apply a new age coconut oil that has ingredients like jasmine as it known to strengthen the hair and make it less prone to breakage even after too much exposure to colours.

-Curly hair needs extra care, so take a generous amount of coconut-based oil and apply it to your scalp and the length of your hair before you go out to play.

-Post-Holi, it is not exactly a cake walk to get rid of the tough colours and its imperative to swipe off the several coatings of oils and sunscreen that were layered onto your hair and skin.

-Use an ubtan soap-free body cleanser which is made up of natural ingredients like turmeric, fenugreek, sandalwood, neem, oatmeal and more.

-You will need to shampoo a couple of times to remove all traces of colour. Wash your hair with a very mild shampoo daily to get rid of residual colour and dirt. Follow this with an application of warm oil. This will help restore and rejuvenate your hair, nourishing it back to health.

-Do not be tempted to use antiseptic liquids to remove colours as they can aggravate the skin further.

-If the colour is too harsh, apply lemon wedges to that area as the stains will lighten.

-Lastly, it may have not occurred to you but your eyes are the most vulnerable when it comes to the effects of Holi.

-It is crucial to always cover your eyes while playing with colours as they contain toxic substances which may cause irritation, pain, watering in eyes and may even cause blurriness for many days.

-Avoid touching eyes frequently. If you feel any irritation in eyes, immediate remedy is to clean eyes with normal running water for 10-15 minutes to wash out all the toxic chemicals from the eye.

-Avoid using contact lens while playing Holi.

Saima Siddiqui

Saima Siddiqui

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