How to make safe, natural and non toxic Holi colors at home

Don’t you just love it when it’s spring time and the only thing sending shivers down your spine are the rants of your friends shouting Bura Na Maano Holi hai?!!!

From being known for its colorful vibrancy, bhang, gujiyas, and singing and dancing, it is now known for its chemical colors. These harmful industrial dyes are known for causing skin rashes and itching, abrasions, eye allergies and discoloration of hair. Some of them are downright toxic!

A festival signifying spring, Holi colours have always traditionally been made from natural flowers and herbs. Convenience has once again overtaken all health concerns. What we can easily forget that our skin is in fact, our largest organ. Would you eat lead oxide or mercury sulfide if someone where to put them on your plate? Ya, it’s an absurd question, but when you think about it, all the chemicals from synethic colours to penetrate your body – one way or the other!

As a new mommy I have been bitten by the herbal, natural and organic bug. Here are some amazing DIY or Do It Yourself ways you can make safe and natural and non toxic colors at home! Most of the ingredients can be sourced from your kitchen itself! Why then would you buy eczema causing toxic Holi colors?

Making Safe and Natural Herbal Holi colors at home

Brown Colour

Have you ever seen brown color at a Holi party? Neither have I. Wouldn’t it be an awesome novelty for your party. Most pan shops have Kattha – a white paste eaten with pan. Kattha gives a brownish colour when dissolved in water. Blow away your visitors with this unique Holi color.


safe and natural holi

Kesariya Saffron

Soak Saffron strands in a small cup of water. Leave overnight or for at least a few hours. Grind well to make a paste, and dilute with more water to get your desired colour!

Lord Krishna has been known to play with Palash flowers for their natural frangrance and orangish yellow hue!  Palash is also known as Tesu or Dhak and it has always been the traditional color of Holi.

Henna Green

Using henna or mehendi to make green color is quite popular even now. By itself henna in powder form can be used to play Holi. Adding equal quantity of atta or wheat flour can make a very beautiful light green shade.

If you’re worried that heena will leave the mehendi stains on your hands, don’t worry. Dry henna never leaves colour. All you need to do is dust it off!  If you want to play a prank on one of your friends then surely you can add it in water, and they will have a tough time getting the stains off!

organic safe herbal holi colors

Midnight Blue

Neela Gulmohar or Jacaranda flowers can be sun dried and ground to make a beautiful blue powder. If you are living down south, then the blue Hibiscus, can be used in the same way. Berries of the  Indigo plant can also be used by crushing and diluting  with water!

Beetroot Pink

The only time I’m glad that beetroot has such a deep colour. Did God really make beetroot to eat or play Holi? Instead of playing havoc with my clothes, every time I want a salad, its oozing color will finally be used well!! Grate beetroot and soak for a few hours in a jug of water, for a beautiful pinkish hue. Boil this mixture or leave overnight if you want a deeper magenta shade.

Soaking pink Kachnar flowers in a jug of water overnight or boiling them, will also give you a  luminous pink colour.

Vibrant Red

Really my favorite colour for playing Holi. There are so so many ways to make this beautiful color naturally. Red sandalwood powder is any day better for your skin than toxic chemical laden Gulal.

You can also dry red hibiscus flowers, powder them. Adding atta or any other flour will again help yo to increase the quantity. Pomegranate peels boiled in water, juice of mashed tomatoes and will also give you a natural yet beautiful red!


As soon as one says natural yellow – the only option that comes to mind in peeli haldi or turmeric. Sift together turmeric powder (haldi) with gram flour (besan) in the ratio of 1:2.  Your skin will thank you! Both haldi and besan are non toxic to the skin, in fact have always been used to beautify brides before marriage. Even atta, arrarot or singhare ka atta can be used for mixing!

Spring really is the time for yellow!!!  Flowers like Amaltas, Marigold, Yellow Chrysanthemums and Babul – all can be used to create a palate of yellow colors! Some effort will be required on your part, as you will need to dry them and grind to make a fine powder. Mix it with besan in case you fall short!!

haldi for holi

Boring Black

Did you know that the black color often used for Holi is made from highly toxic discarded used batteries?!!? Batteries themselves are harmful, imagine rubbing its contents on you little ones face and hands!!  Black is anyways not a Holi colour in my honest opinion! However, if you would like to add it to your celebrations, then make it at home. Boil dried Amla in a wrought or cast iron vessel and leaving it to soak it overnight. Dilute with water and use as would any color!

These simple homemade colors will ensure that you and your kids have a safe and natural Holi! If you are using all organic ingredients, then you would have a completely natural and organic Holi, which is even better!!! If you’re not up for making all these colors at home, the least you can do is avoid the bright purple, green, yellow and orange synthetic colours that are so popular – as they are made attractive with the most harmful of chemicals!

Tips for enjoying a safe Holi

Sometimes in the revelry of a festival we lose ourselves! While that’s quite understandable on a special day like Holi, here are some tips to keep you and the kids safe.

Holika Dhawan is a wonderful prelude to Holi, but it is always advisable to keep your kids at a safe distance from the holy bonfire. They are bound to get excited and it is going be difficult to restrain them.

Before stepping out on Holi, rub yourself with huge dollops of coconut oil. This will create a protecting layer for your skin and reduce the amount of skin damage.

Why only skin? Protect your hair as well! Holi plays havoc with women’s hair, turning it frizzy, dry and unmanageable. Oil your hair and scalp well, before heading out. If you can, make your kids wear a cap. Swimming cap is best, but which kid is going to agree to that?!!?

happy holi
Photo By Sourav Pal Chowdhury

We army wives love our sunglasses! And with good reason! On Holi, it should be made mandatory!! Wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes. And hey, before I forget – don’t wear contact lens as it will coagulate the colored powders in your eye! If any colour does enter your eye – rinse immediately!

If your kids are experience skin irritation or constant itching – wash off the area well. Then apply aloe gel to the affected area. It is also a good idea to freeze aloevera in ice cube trays. That way you can have them handy to rub on sunscreen burns and other skin irritations.

If you or anyone in the family is asthmatic, avoid playing with dry colours. They have been known to congest lungs and cause asthma attacks. Even people with sensitive allergies should avoid.

If it’s Holi, them bhang is sure to make an entrance. The problem with bhang, apart from the obvious, is that when it is consumed in large quantities it spikes your blood pressure and heart rate. Drinking bhaag along with alcohol is the perfect recipe for a heart attack!  Not to play your mother, but please drink in moderation if you have to and avoid mixing the two at all costs!!

And just because we want to play Holi, doesn’t mean that our pets or other street animals enjoy that as well! Teach the kids not to throw color on them. We can wash ourselves with soap, can they?

holi is not for us for pets and dogs

And not to sound like a pseudo liberal but don’t waste too much water! Throwing water balloons was my favorite part of Holi. It’s understandable that kids will indulge, but advise them not to throw balloons from a huge distance as that could injure someone.

Your skin would already be really be reeling so don’t aggravate it more by applying harsh soaps and shampoo when you bathe. To rid yourself of the colour – use a coconut oil based soap or any other mild soap.  Kerosene and petrol cause skin dryness, so steer clear even if well wishers suggest them for removing color stains. Instead to clean up use besan and turmeric along with malai uptan. The turmeric will help with any sunburns and the malai will moisturize. Curd can also be used to remove skin tans. Using a homemade sugar scrub with some lemon will also do the trick, if you want to scrub off color stains!

Haldi besan uptan

When the children begin playing, they neither feel hungry or thirsty. Before the festivities begin, make them drink lots of water so that they stay hydrated. Make them eat using spoons as there is bound to be chemical residue on their fingers and under their nails. This will protect them from ingesting the harmful chemicals.

March is usually the time for changing seasons. After playing with water and bathing and scrubbing someone is bound to catch a cold!!! Remember to feed your family something warm and comforting.

Whichever way you decide to celebrate Holi, have a happy, safe and colourful one! Happy Holi!!