Some of you may be new to the henna game and aren't really sure what henna even is! I am here to tell you all about safe henna, the dangers of 'fake' henna tattoos, and how you can easily tell the difference.
What is a henna tattoo?
Let's set one thing straight, a henna tattoo and henna are two different things. A henna tattoo is actually a stain on the skin that lasts for a few weeks, that stain is made by henna. Henna is a type of plant, which naturally dyes the hair and skin a deep orange brown color.
Let's break this down:
Henna is a plant. The leaves are ground into a fine powder so that it can be easily mixed with a carrier. This mixture allows it to become a paste that can be laid on top of the skin. Once that paste has dried and cracked off, it leaves a stain on the skin. That stain is what a lot of people call a Henna Tattoo. So since the henna plant itself is all natural, it's completely safe for the skin. What you have to watch out for is the carrier that people mix with the henna!
The 'black henna' trend - NOT SAFE!
Many people mix a hair dye called PPD into their henna mixture to create what they call "black henna". I want you to know that this 'black henna' is not safe, it is very harmful. PPD can cause incredible allergic reactions, so far as to cause ER visits from already asthmatic patients. What is even sneakier about this chemical, is that overtime you can develop an allergic reaction to it. So even if you use this 'black henna' once and see no reaction, it is a safe practice to simply never use this mixture again. Black henna is not real henna, as it is mostly gels, the PPD chemical dye, and very little actual henna powder.
The reactions people have seen from this mixture are horrific, and can cause PERMANENT scaring or blisters. Imagine permanent henna tattoo pattern on your hand, that you wanted just for a few weeks. I met a lady who had gotten a butterfly on her hip as a kid on vacation... she's now 34 and still has that tattoo pattern as a scar.
In the small middle photo here, you can see that the adult got the same 'black henna' tattoo as the child. In the left photo, they have had the tattoos for a while, as mom's is now gone, and the girls has developed open sores. At this point it is typically itchy, but if you itch it you will certainly scar. The second large photo looks like the beginning of the blistering, so taken somewhere after the middle photo and before the left photo.
A great way to spot this unsafe 'black henna' is to look at the cone or tool the artist is using to apply the material. If the cone looks like these below (a prepackaged, shiny cone that looks to be sold in bulk) then it is %100 unsafe.
Another great way to test is by smelling the mixture. Smells like chemicals? It is chemicals. Natural henna always smells delicious, and often time like the essential oil that goes into an all natural mixture.
And lastly, if the cone is not kept in a freezer or freezer bag when not in use, then the mixture has a preservative or other chemicals in it to keep it from going bad. As henna is a plant, it is only natural that it goes bad overtime. When a safe and natural henna cone is not in use, we keep it in our freezer so that it delays the process in which it goes bad. You can only keep an all natural henna cone out of the freezer for less that 20 hours before it will no longer produce a dark stain.
All Natural henna - COMPLETELY SAFE!
When a dedicated and professional artist makes their own henna, we use only all natural ingredients to get the darkest stain possible, without compromising anyones health. Every artist has their own mix they prefer, all largely similar.
My mix includes:
THAT'S IT! And most henna artists, including myself, sell their henna mixture in ready to go cones for those that want to learn, practice, or just enjoy making henna tattoos themselves. You can find my cones here for purchase if you'd like to try for yourself!
Natural henna will go on like a soothing paste, and leave your skin with a cooling maybe tingling feeling while it dries. After it has dried it crusts and falls off the skin, leaving behind a beautiful pumpkin orange color. That orange will slowly turn into a deep dark brown over the next two days and will last up to 2 weeks, depending on placement.
So if you are ever wondering if your henna artist is using safe henna for their tattoos, just ask them! Most artists are proud to use all natural henna and will have immediate respect for you in knowing you practice safe henna (;
I am first + foremost, a creative. I love to take an idea and create it into something tangible. To build + organize a design, an idea, or a goal + see it actually materialize by my hands is something hard to describe. I will always cherish + cultivate my ability to do this. Here is a little about what I have learned + maybe peeks at my artistic life journey so far.