Henna Safety In Depth
Occasionally I do meet people who are sensitive to natural henna. In a decade in the field I’ve met about 5 people who have a mild skin allergy to henna. The symptoms are mild itching and redness. The symptoms disappear as soon as the henna paste is removed from the skin. Other people could have an allergy to other ingredients in the mix. Our paste contains henna powder, lemon juice, sugar, and cajeput essential oil. If you have concerns about your allergies, just ask!
Another point in the issue of henna safety relates to a rare disease called G6PD. Infants and children under 6 with this disease can experience extreme and dangers anemia if they have henna on a large percentage of their skin. Again, this condition is quite rare. Please read more about it here: G6PD
Chemically adulterated products with the addition of Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) or other dangerous ingredients can cause sever reactions including scaring, and even internal organ damage. These products are often called “henna” or “black henna” even though they are no such thing. Real henna is never black!
How do you tell safe, natural henna from dangerous, chemically adulterated henna? Its really pretty simple!
Natural henna paste will be green to dark brown in color, never black. The resulting stain will result shades of red or brown to burgundy, depending on location and skin tone, never black. The biggest difference between natural henna and chemical products is the color of the stain right after the paste is removed. Natural henna will be orange at first and take a day or two to deepen. Chemical products are red, brown, or black right away.
Though not as obvious as color, there are hints that set natural henna and chemical products appart in the process. Natural henna paste is very rarely applied with a brush. Thin paste that can be applied with a brush is suspicious. Chemicals are often added to regular henna paste and are applied with a cone or bottle, and a few natural henna artists do use a brush, so this is not a sure sign. Just a hint! Chemical products work faster than henna. If the after care instructions don’t require you to keep the paste on for at least a few hours, it may be chemically adulterated paste.
Natural henna paste smells like herbs, hey, and essential oils. Chemically adulterated paste may smell like kerosene or hair dye.