All about Holi colours, Harms, Removal and Prevention

We all love playing with Holi colours, but do they leave any harmful side-effects?

With the festival of colours just around the corner, we are all bound to be excited about having fun with family and friends.

However, as Holi is played with lots of colours, it’s important to keep safety in mind and take proper care to control the damaging effects of colours.


The market is flooded with a variety of colours – paste, dry and watercolours. Rather, industrial dyes being cheap and bright are widely used to make them. However, these can have detrimental effects on humans as they were never meant for playing Holi.

Metallic pastes: These pastes are used for a silver, golden and/or black effect. While it’s a very popular practice in youngsters, the use of metallic pastes during Holi is highly discouraged in view of the harmful effects.

Dry colours: Commonly called as gulaal, dry colours are a mix of toxic heavy metals like lead, chromium, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, and asbestos.

Water Colours: These colours commonly use gentian violet dye as colourant. Gentian violet is a hazardous chemical that can cause many serious health problems. The water colours used in Holi fare no better.

Harmful effects of colours

 All these are known to cause skin allergies, dermatitis and a host of other issues including problems with the scalp.

Metallic pastes- These colours can cause eye allergies, blindness, skin irritation, skin cancers, and even kidney failure.

The colored powders used during Holi can cause various respiratory problems when inhaled. This can lead to conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and allergies.

Being exposed to these colors can cause irritation and inflammation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and can also trigger asthma attacks in people with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Long-term exposure to these chemicals can lead to chronic respiratory problems such as bronchitis, emphysema, and lung cancer.

Other problems include conjunctivitis and hair loss.

Additionally, the colours, if inhaled can irritate the delicate tissues in the nose and throat, causing inflammation and discomfort.

If Holi is played out in the sun, it can further damage the skin, causing depletion of moisture and sun tan, leaving your skin dry and dull.


To apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Make sure to use sunscreen for SPF 30 and above. Most sunscreens have built-in moisturizers. For the hair, apply a hair serum or leave-in conditioner.  Alternatively, you can use pure coconut oil and massage it lightly into the hair.


Appropriate removal of colours is equally important to get rid of the damaging effects of playing Holi. To begin with, rinse your face with plenty of water, followed by a cleansing cream or lotion, and lastly, wipe off with moist cotton wool. In case you experience itching, add two tablespoons of vinegar to a mug of water and use it as a last rinse.

Cleanse the area around the eyes. While bathing, gently scrub the body and apply a moisturiser on the face and body immediately after while the skin is still damp.

He said that if itching continues or you see a rash and redness, make sure to consult a doctor as there may be an allergic reaction to the colour. For the hair, use plenty of water to wash away the dry colours and tiny mica particles. Then use a mild shampoo and massage the scalp gently and rinse thoroughly with water again. Lastly, condition your hair with a mild conditioner.


Instead, opt to use eco-friendly colours made of flower petals, herbs, vegetable extract, and turmeric.

Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms post your Holi party.

If you experience fever, nausea, vomiting, red eyes, difficulty seeing, skin eruptions, burning skin, dizziness, confusion, inability to concentrate, headaches, and/or blurred vision consult a doctor immediately.

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