Holi and Your Health

Festivals are an integral part of our cultural heritage. Most of the festivals we celebrate have their roots in Indian mythology. Holi is no different. This festival has been celebrated in our country since the ancient times. But those were simpler times when intentions were pure, and so were the Holi colours. In fact, people used ingredients with beneficial properties like turmeric, Palash, hibiscus and neem to make the colours during the olden days. But now you have to be extra careful with your health when it comes to Holi celebration.

Holi during modern times

While Holi is still as famous as it was in the days of our parents and grandparents, it is the commercialisation of this festival of colours that has dampened the spirits of the revellers. Holi colours available in the markets these days are a far cry from the natural and skin friendly colours our parents used to play with.


Nowadays natural or organic colours are not readily available in the market. People too are reluctant to buy them as they are more expensive. They need to realise that by trying to save some money by purchasing synthetic colours, they will cause harm to themselves and the friends with whom they will play Holi.

Holi and health

Synthetic Holi colours contain many chemicals that are harmful to the skin. Some of the common ill effects of the chemical-laden Holi colours are:

Skin Rashes

Many Holi colours contain chromium which can damage our skin. Many people suffer from skin damage, rashes and boils after Holi.

Eye Damage

Copper Sulphate is a hazardous chemical. Playing with colours that contain copper sulphate can lead to redness, damage and in some extreme cases blindness in the eye.


Pregnant women should avoid playing Holi. If they ingest lead oxide (which is a part of many colours), it can cause miscarriage.

Dry and damaged hair

Harsh chemicals used in Holi colours can cause a lot of damage to our hair and scalp. While some people experience excessive hair fall post-Holi, others find that their hair has become brittle.


Chemical in specific colours can trigger asthma. Asthmatic patients should exercise caution while playing Holi with colours.


Exposure to chemical-laden colours can also cause skin cancer.

Chemical composition of colours

Here’s a guide to which artificial colour contains what chemicals.

Red Gulal

This colour contains mercury sulphite which can cause cancer, loss of eyesight and paralysis.


This colour contains lead oxide which is extremely harmful. Kidney damage, skin problems and damage to the central nervous system are some of the issues related to this chemical.


Most artificial green colour Holi powders contain copper sulphate. It can cause temporary blindness, rashes, skin damage and allergic reactions.


That silver Holi colour that we all struggle to get out of our skin contains the very harmful aluminium bromide. It is a highly carcinogenic chemical.


Purple Holi colours contain chromium iodine. This chemical is responsible for asthma, dermatitis and skin allergies in some people.


Most synthetic gulaal(colour powder) contain powdered glass. If ingested this can damage our kidneys, livers and bones, which can severely affect our health. If this gulaal enters our eyes, it can cause eye damage.


This is the base material for many synthetic colours. It can cause cancer, asthma, skin damage and temporary blindness.

Pucca colours

Certain varieties of Holi colours known as Pucca colours are incredibly harmful to the skin. Usually available in black or silver colour, they contain grease and engine oil.


How to identify safe colours?

Many of us are aware of the harmful effects of synthetic Holi colours and opt for the herbal ones instead. Unfortunately, shrewd shopkeepers often dupe us into buying fake organic products that are just as harmful as the synthetic ones. So, how do we ensure that the natural colours we are buying are genuine?

  • Purchase organic, herbal or eco-friendly colours from a trusted shop. The colour should come sealed in a packet that has all the details of the ingredients on it.
  • Smell the colour before you buy it. If it smells like petrol or some chemical, don’t buy it.
  • Chemical colours are not soluble in water. Check the colour by putting it in water.
  • Organic colours will not have shiny particles. If the colour you are buying has shiny particles in it, that means it contains silica.
  • Organic colours do not come in dark shades. Shades of black, dark purple and silver are not natural.
  • Some colours like yellow can easily be made at home by mixing turmeric with gram flour. Stick to this shade.

Enjoy safely

This year don’t let anyone dupe you into buying chemical based colours. Enjoy the festival of colours with natural and organic colours this year, keeping your health as the top most priority. Your friend will be grateful to you and so will be your skin and hair.


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