Celebrating Holi might just be tricky this year when you’ve managed to pin down a good skincare routine, shipped down some great products and went extensive on your routine with AHAs/BHAs and Vitamin C.

But Holi has to be played and your routine needs a few small changes to make sure your skin stays on the right side of happy even with all those organic colours. We give you simple tricks that will help you prep and prepare your skin for the colour onslaught while keeping it safe from irritation and break-outs.

Expert 1: Jamuna Pai, renowned aesthetic physician, author, and founder of SkinLab

Skincare

Make sure you start with fresh skin – while Holi colours are known to irritate your skin and cause extreme dryness, you need to always make sure you double-cleanse first. Use a good balm that removes grime and makeup like the Clinique Take The Day Off Balm and slather your face nicely and the paste emulsifies into a beautiful oil and rids your face of all the dirt and pollution-induced irritation.

Layering your products

Follow the correct path to layering with the thinnest texture first (aka toner) to the thickest, the sunscreen. And that means, toner first that helps with your pores and the extra cleanse and then, moisturiser. At this point, a serum or a spot-cleaning cream are a big no-no. Try to not acid-tone either or exfoliate with physical exfoliators too as they tend to make your skin raw and open the pores thereby. AHA/BHAs or any Salicylic or Lactic-acid laced products can be avoided too. The layering must be simple with a good Cleanse-Tone and Moisturise routine alongside a good sunscreen. “Apply an oil-free moisturising cream on the face before playing with the colour. People with normal or combination skin can apply a waterproof sunscreen on their face along with a drop of baby oil mixed in it. This will act as a barrier and protect the skin,” adds Jamuna Pai.

Sunscreen woes

The thicker the sunscreen, the better. Use anything that is 30+ SPF or higher to make sure you are safe. Make sure you apply a good, generous amount of sunscreen. A waterproof or water-resistant formula is great. We also recommend you use a gel-based one so the colour can easily slide off . You could also carry the sunscreen with you and keep re-applying it every 2-3 hours too. If you are wearing foundation, make sure you choose one that has SPF already in it so it can add another layer to the look.

Facial oils

This is a great time to apply thick facial oils as the last step in the pre-Holi regime. Lighter oils like Marula or Squalene can be avoided, look for thick ones like dry oils, mustard or olive oils that are relatively thicker and add a healthier layer to your skin. Don’t forget to apply the oil on your body and your neck and ears too – sometimes harsh colours can get lodged into the nooks and crannies. Especially dry skin absorbs the chemical colours and causes irritation so make sure your body and face are well-oiled – add more layers as you go every 20 minutes so you are well-covered. Coconut oil is also a great option if you want something heavier. Acne-prone skin will benefit from almond oil as it keeps your skin hydrated in the process too. All of the oils keep your skin nourished and happy so you can head out without a worry.

Nail care

A dark nail polish is a better bet than a lighter one because the dark hues can save your nails from damage. Make sure your nails are kept short and slather them with a Vitamin E-based nail cream. You could also use anything that has petroleum jelly so your hands are not susceptible to staining and infections. Adding on a fresh coat of transparent nail polish can add an extra layer on top so you seal in the dark colour.

Body care

To protect your body skin from colour, wear clothes that cover most body parts. Apply oil liberally all over your body prior to exposure to the colours as it will form a protective barrier between the skin and the colour.  You can use almond or coconut oil as they are thick in texture. Thus the damage will be lessened. Use sunscreen generously on all exposed areas of your body to further protect your skin from the damage caused by the colours.

Hair care

Hair exposed to colour can become dull, dry and brittle due to the presence of synthetic dyes in the colours. Apply a good amount of oil/conditioner on your hair. Make a small bun of your hair once you are done with oiling. You can cover your hair with a dupatta/bandana which will not just offer protection but add a style quotient too.

Expert 2: Dr Kiran Sethi, Owner and Founder of Isya Aesthetics

Skincare

Do not apply retinol, retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, polyhydroxy acids or salicylic acid the night before. If you are doing any laser treatments, do not do any laser on the face/neck or exposed areas for at least 6 days before Holi, and the same for chemical peels. Do not use any harsh scrubs the night before Holi. Moisturise as much as possible to create a strong skin barrier. Use Vaseline petroleum jelly the night before and the day of Holi to create a barrier against those tough colours. If possible, go out into the sun wearing a hat if you can. And don’t forget to use lots of sunblock.

Post Holi, you can use a gentle foaming cleanser and then use a cleansing oil to get rid of those oil soluble colours. A friendly tip: Use a toothbrush for those tiny hard to reach crevices with some cleanser and for the last remnants of the oil, massage oil into your skin then wash it off in round circular motions- this gets rid of that tough colour. Consider a facial like Silklove with exfoliates off the color while infusing nutrients lost during holi and the post-holi color removal process!

Nail care

First moisturise those nails with a lotions like Atoderm Baume. Apply vaseline jelly to your nails and cuticles prior to playing Holi then reapply throughout the day, scrub off color with a toothbrush gently and moisturise right after and apply Vaseline jelly again.

Hair care

Pre-Holi no hair treatments like highlights/keratin/perms because they open up the hair cuticle and colour can get in. Don’t shampoo the day of or the day before to keep the strands a little oily. Apply coconut oil the night before and the day of to create a barrier against the colour from penetrating those strands. Oil prevents colour from penetrating. You can also tie up your hair. And wear a little sunblock spray like Sebamed spray on the hair to protect the strands from sun damage. After holi- shampoo the oil out and apply a conditioner, then re-shampoo and condition again. 

Other Experts

Expert 3: Ritika Jayaswal, CEO & Founder, Nourish Mantra

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Douse yourself in hydration. Shift to a hydrating moisturiser or Vitamin C serum to prevent your skin from getting sensitive to colour. Protect yourself from the sun. It’s not just the colour and water that you need to be worried about, but also sun damage. Wear sunscreen. 

Save your nails from damage by keeping them short and painted with a dark nail polish. Rub a little olive oil on the nails before touching colours as this will act as a shield and not let them stain easily.

You might already be aware of this one but remember to oil your hair thoroughly. It helps you prevent the color from seeping into your scalp and also acts like a protective shield to your hair.

Before you plan to step out to play Holi, slather your body with a good body oil or a moisturiser. Give your body a good massage so it soaks in the moisturiser well. It will act as a shield between your skin and colors, and also helps you get rid of the colors easily. Its equally important to moisturize your body after taking off the colours as they dry out the skin. 

Expert 4: Hinaa Khan, Education Head, Dermalogica

Pre-Holi Skin Care

Prep your skin and make sure it’s moisturised and nourished before you go out to play. Layer on the sunscreen! Opt for a waterproof sunscreen that will protect you from the sun and won’t wear off while playing with water colours.

Post-Holi Skin Care

Cleansing is paramount after you’ve played Holi. Amp up your usual cleansing routine by double cleansing and protect the integrity of its natural barrier. Spritz the mist throughout the day for a cooling effect and use a two-in-one moisturiser-cum-sunscreen… because, multitasking! 

Pre-Holi Hair Care

Protect your roots with a root mask. Since the hair is most prone to chemical reactions, it can become extremely dry.

Avoid using shampoo on your hair a day before going to play the Holi. This ensures that your scalp doesn’t lose its natural essential oils and will prevent excessive hair fall.

Post-Holi Hair Care

Avoid brushing or combing your hair after playing Holi, as you may experience hair breakage. 

While washing your hair after Holi, first rinse it with plenty of water to get rid of the dry colours. First use a mild shampoo which will moisturise your hair and scalp, and calm any frizz you may experience from the colours. Follow this up with the same conditioner to get back to your naturally shiny, smooth hair.

If you feel like there has been far too much damage from the colours, opt for the shampoo and conditioner, which will help repair external hair damage, leaving hair more resilient, looking healthier, and feeling smoother.

After the hair wash, make sure you lock in all that moisture into your hair by applying a generous amount of a leave-in product and thermal protectant. 

Expert 5: Mr. Koushik Sreedhar, NIVEA India’s R&D Expert 

While we start-off our Holi planning ensuring all the safety measures in the new normal, it is of utmost importance to also take care of our skin. Even if we use organic colors, we still need to protect and cleanse our skin thoroughly so that it does not get damaged. Take care of your skin during Holi celebrations using these simple steps, so that the colors come off easily and the skin remains healthy.

To minimize the damage, prepare your skin even before celebrating Holi with a body lotion that gives the dual benefit moisturization and UV protection. Post the Holi celebrations, it is important to cleanse while being very gentle on your skin, so that you don’t aggravate any damage caused by rubbing colors. Use shower gels instead of soap, as they cleanse your skin gently while keeping it moisturized. For your face, use gentle milk-washes which have pH similar to the skin. Lastly, you must complete the routine by moisturizing your skin with a light non-sticky moisturizer. 

Expert 6: Mr Ashok Gupta, Founder of Amrutam 

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To prepare your skin for all the gulaal and colors, make sure you hydrate yourself as much as possible with ayurvedic sharbats like Amla, Anar, Aam or Falsa – all of which fit right into the season! Be gentle with your skin by applying Aloe Vera every morning for at least a week so your skin can get back to its healthy shape. 

Expert 7: Aakash Anand, Founder, Bella Vita Organic

As Holi is an outdoor festival the skin and hair will be exposed to the sun, synthetic colors and dust particles combined with pollution, which can stick to your skin and cause various skin issues, especially Eczema (a common skin condition that causes dry, itchy scalp and skin). So deep moisturising and cleansing your body is very crucial for smooth and nourished skin and hair.

Expert 8: Mr. Sandeep Gupta, CEO & Director, e’clat Superior

Using serums is the best way to get a dewy and glowing skin as they hydrate it from its pores to form a protective covering. Night masks add a cherry on top with their healing qualities and prepare your skin to withstand the hard colours on the final day. 

Coconut oil has always been the best solution to almost all the skin related issues. There is nothing that could beat up the benefits that coconut oil has yielded over the years. Therefore, oil up your hair and skin to protect them. 

People with acne prone skin despise the aftereffects of playing with inorganic colors. Inflammation and breakouts are the most common issues one faces. Include the products with salicylic acid, Zinc, niacinamide that helps to calm the skin, reduce the acne and cease any further breakouts post Holi. Not only post holi, but the best way to keep skin dryness at bay is to keep it hydrated. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, argan oil, wheat germ in your moisturizers to help your skin stay soft and moisturized at all times.

Products we love:

 Aureana Purité Oil Control Face Wash, Rs 699

Dermafique Bio-Cellulose Charcoal Mask, Rs 299

Innisfree Green Tea Cleansing Oil, Rs 1400

Nourish Mantra Mystic Indian Rose Body Lotion, Rs 975

Hivado Fortifying Face Cream for men, Rs 1,250

Perenne Nourishing Cleansing Oil, Rs 1150

Estee Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant 72H-Hydration Sorbet Creme SPF 15, Rs 3,500

The Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream Moisturiser, Rs 1,250

Bombay Shaving Company Exfoliating Bath Soaps (Pack of 4), Rs 780

House of Beauty Hair Food + Hair Tonic, Rs 1,020

Mystique Earth Mineral Masque Face Mask with Black Malwa Soil, Rs 1,299

NIVEA Aloe Moisturizer, Cream for Face, Hands & Body, Rs 270

Forest Essentials Light Hydrating Moisturising Facial Gel Pure Aloe VeraRs 1,550

BodyCafe Calming Face Mist, Rs

Tribe Concepts 90 Day Miracle Hair Oil, Rs 799

Revees Clive Active Algae Scalp Oil, Rs 899

Wow Skinscience Black Seed Onion Hair Oil, Rs 599

ENN Keratin Custard Keratin Replinishing Hair Mask, Rs 950

Juicy Chemistry Marula, Argan & Lavender Hair Oil, Rs 800

Mantra Herbal Saffron & Calendula Sun Cream, Rs 1,199

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.