Safe, “Natural Henna”: Henna paste is a natural dye. It looks almost greenish-black when it is first mixed and applied. Then the Henna paste will flake off and the stain turns to a copper-orange to reddish-brown. A Henna tattoo will start orange and then darken within the first 24-48 hours. The longer the Henna paste is left on the skin the more skin layers will become stained by the Henna. It is suggested to allow the henna to remain for several hours on the skin as the plant's dye penetrates the top layers of skin. The dried paste is then removed to reveal an orange stain. This orange stain will darken over the next 2 to 4 days as the lawsone molecules oxidize from contact with oxygen... just as a sliced apple turns from white to brown if left in the open air. If high quality henna is used and proper aftercare is followed, a henna stain should last approximately 2 weeks, depending on where on the body the henna is applied.
Natural henna body art is, and has been for thousands of years, a beautiful medium for self-expression. The common thread that travels through henna's many cultures of origin is that of celebration, happiness and the joy of togetherness. Remember that good henna looks beautiful, smells wonderful, takes a little time and care to achieve optimal results, and should last about 2 weeks. Good henna artists are knowledgeable, professional, and able to produce artwork you are thrilled to wear at an affordable price. Above all, henna is meant to be fun! I hope that this information regarding the dangers of PPD and other chemical adulterants will ensure that everyone can experience the joy of henna safely, happily, and often.
Warning! PPD "Black Henna" However, not all henna is created equal. Rampant in vacation destinations around the world is a very dangerous form of henna that masquerades as the safe, herbal product. It is called "Black Henna", or, henna paste that has been adulterated with the industrial black dye known as PPD (paraphenalinediamine). PPD is used by the clothing industry and the cosmetic industry in commercial hair dye. It has been deemed unsafe to use on skin by the FDA due to its high rate of allergic reaction and when used as body art can send you to the emergency room with complications that can affect you for the rest of your life.
Until recently, the use of PPD adulterated henna was limited mainly to henna's countries of origin. It has now found a particular niche among local favorite vacation spots such as Californian/Hawaiian beaches, Mexico, and Las Vegas (at my last count, ALL henna booths on The Strip and on Fremont Street use "black henna"). The reason for its popularity rise is due to the quick and easy stain that the chemical dye produces. While natural henna takes time and care to achieve the best results, PPD stains skin from dark red/brown to black almost immediately and with no care at all. This makes it appealing for beach-goers and tourists on a time schedule. "Black henna" paste often appears as a goopy, shiny black paint. PPD is a very caustic chemical. It is also a sensitizer, meaning that you may be exposed to it several times with no harmful side effects, and then, WHAMMO! The resulting allergic reaction can be limited to skin eruptions such as dermatitis (hives) or painful, oozing blisters which tend to scar. Allergic reactions can also be systemic, resulting in organ failure. In both cases, the allergy to PPD is lifelong and not only limited to "black henna", but exposure to commercial hair dye and even the dyes used in clothing. Children are especially at risk. Henna is viewed as a safe and acceptable alternative to tattooing for youngsters and parents often unknowingly allow their children to get PPD black henna body art while on vacation because they didn't realize there was a difference between natural and "black" henna. Sensitization to PPD black henna usually takes a few days before the allergic reaction is evident. "Black henna" artists capitalize on this because you are usually well on your way home (and out of their legal jurisdiction) when the symptoms appear. They have your money and you (or worse, your child) have a medical condition that can last a lifetime. Huge, weeping blisters and scars are the sad result of what should have been a happy occasion.
*Don't be fooled by "tradition".
Sadly, many PPD horror stories originate from countries where henna is part of the culture. India, Morocco, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula are rife with PPD artists who target tourists. Many tourism packages include "henna" during certain festivities, which is often PPD. After hearing so many bad experiences over the years, I now advise my clients to avoid henna while out of the country. It is simply the very best way to stay safe.
How To Tell The Good From The Bad
*Observe the process.
Does the paste look more like chunky, black paint than smooth, greenish-brown pudding? Does the henna paste smell bad? Does the artist add odd ingredients, like hydrogen peroxide, at the last minute? Does the artist give little or no information or instruction? Does the artist claim the stain will be dark/black quickly and/or last for more than 3 weeks?
For more information, please visit http://www.hennapage.com/henna/warnings.html
Before vacationing PLEASE book a safe Henna experience with Linda from WildFlower Artist-WFA!