Holi festival and skin have been best friends
Imagine the pink gulaal on a radiant face, full of warm-throbbing blood and lush full hormones in the morning spring sun.
Let me decode this vision for you scientifically.
Holi was played with the dried-crushed powders of coloured, fragrant flowers. Having this lovingly rubbed on your skin would have been more therapeutic than fun. Polyphenols and flavonoid-rich rose petal powder soothes inflammation, balances hydration, and makes the skin glow inside out. All this is accompanied by a spray of cool water from a Pichkari in the glowing spring sun.
Kapha increases during the spring season, making the skin naturally healthy and hydrated.
Medically, it is now proven that humans experience a circannual rhythm of hormones (1). The reproductive hormones surge during the Holi-Spring season. These hormones render an unmissable dewy glow in the skin from within.
While the full moon’s effect on blood circulation is well-documented medically. Modern art and literature emphasise the way it makes the heart feel. On the Holi-full moon day, one may experience better blood circulation, which equates to plumper and healthier skin,
The wavelength of the sunlight in spring, makes everything look coloured and full of life, including the skin.
The fun was truly fun until the advent of chemical colours.
The Holi colours now are pinkest of pink and bluest of blue. They are synthetic in origin, and sometimes extremely harmful. Chemical-origin colours and fragrances are the strongest irritants for the skin.
Let’s find ways to stay immune, recuperate and fix the toxic Skin-Holi relationship.
Pre Holi play :
Hydrate well: All the fun and excitement for Holi can surely make us oblivious to our body’s needs. But, well-hydration of the skin is the first step to keep up its immunity.
Sun protection: The blooming lush mango orchards can be so inviting in the spring to play Holi in. All the time outdoors can be great for mental health, but may not be so good for the skin. Sunscreen thus, should not be skipped.
Prep the skin: Oiling the skin confers a barrier effect to it against harmful chemicals and water. Face oils that are non-comedogenic and very light on the facial skin, can be used. Body-specific oils can be used for the rest of the exposed body parts.
During play :
Avoid getting repeatedly drenched: Water makes the skin more absorbent. Chemicals, when applied to damp skin, can make the damage worse. After the play, you may also have to resort to harsher methods to remove the stains from the skin. Instead, applying colours on dry skin can lessen the damage and makes the clean-up easier later. At least, try to keep the delicate facial skin dry, as long as your playmates permit.
Colour choices: Opt for organic and natural Holi colours, devoid of artificial colours and fragrances. Sindoor, turmeric, and indigo are a few colored-herbal powders to choose from. Sindoor (Bixa Orellana) minimises pores, regulates sebum production, and negates the effect of stress on the skin. Turmeric is well-known for its skin benefits. While the pure indigo powder gives a greenish-blue hue, it is effective against chronic skin diseases and relieves skin allergies.
Hibiscus and rose petal powders can also be used. Traditionally, pure gulaal is made of rose petals. Fresh flowers can also be pasted and smeared. If you are feeling lavish and indulgent, Kesar is a great option too.
Indian pantries are full of colours and health. Explore!
Post Holi play :
Use the Ayurvedic double cleanse method: Start with massaging oil on the skin. Colors dissolve well in the oils. Also, the superficial dead skin that is ready-to-be shed, comes off easily with oils.
Follow this with an Udvartana (Ubtan) powder, made of soft oat powder, masoor dal powder/besan, and a pinch of amla powder. Rub the powder on your oiled skin until it rolls up for a deep cleanse.
Give the skin a little time to heal: Follow the Abhyanga (Massage) and dry Udvartana (Ubtan) routine for a couple of days, until the skin restores its natural health. Do not expect the damage to reverse overnight. Also, overapplying skincare products on the skin, which is sensitive and irritated, can do more damage than good.
Moisturise well, hydrate enough, eat well, and keep glowing.