What You Should Know About Henna Tattoos

I know, I talk about this a lot.

However, there is so much misguided information swirling around the internet and I am doing my part to spread useful knowledge.

What is henna?

Is it safe?

I am going to address this here because:

A.  I love henna and I want to share my joy of this art with others

B.  I am a mother and I aim to protect my child from dangerous trends and I'm sure you do too.

C.   I have very little tolerance for self proclaimed henna artists that use manufactured henna, which is known to be toxic, on others.  These are the people that give henna a bad name.  Okay, I know that doesn't sound very nice because honestly, there are people that just don't know the facts.  They might not be using unsafe henna deliberately but not researching a product fully before using it on another person is highly dangerous and negligent.  If you know someone using chemical henna or imported henna, please share this information. 

So, what is henna?

Henna's technical name is Lawsonia Inermis, I don't expect you to remember that.  It is a bush like plant that grows in arid regions

Here is an image of a henna bush.

By J.M.Garg - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5636484

Beautiful, isn't it? Notice I gave credit to the photographer above for capturing this image.  For thousands of years, yes thousands, people of Indian, African, Middle Eastern and even European descent have enjoyed the art of mhendi, which simply means making a paste out of ground up leaves of this plant and applying it to the skin in intricate patterns.  The paste remains on the skin, dries and is allowed to stay dried to the skin for usually 6-8 hours and during this time the natural red dye is released from the henna and stains the top layer of skin.  The paste will flake off and underneath will be the resulting henna tattoo.  Henna tattoos begin as a light orange color and over the next 24 hours the tattoo will darken into a reddish brown.  The reddish brown stain will remain on the skin for around 10 days, sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little less.  The length of time it lasts depends on many factors, your natural skin chemistry, how long you left the paste on your skin, humidity, air temperature, persperation, washing, exfoliation.  The most care should be taken the first 24 hours after the paste has been removed while the henna stain sets.  Do not wash the area during this time, if you can avoid it.

Here is my stain progression photo

What can you do beyond the first 24-36 hours to preserve your henna tattoo?

Avoid scrubbing, avoid chemicals (especially dish soap and cleaning products, get someone else to do the housework!), use natural moisturizers, not department store moisturizers that say "with shea butter" or "with cocoa butter" because that just means there are other ingredients that will fade your tattoo instead of preserving it. Lotions you buy at a store commonly containing ingredients that smooth your skin by removing dead skin cells and by removing that top layer of skin, goodbye henna tattoo! Moisturizing is very important to preserving your henna tattoo, so to get the most bang for your buck, especially before going into the shower or washing use plain shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil can also be used but doesn't seem to provide the best barrier because it washes off quickly.  You can also use vegetable oil or olive oil. 

Is it safe?

If the henna paste is hand-mixed by the artist and you have no allergies to citrus or essential oils, then yes. 

Let me explain:

The problem here is many henna artists do not know how to make a good henna paste.  It takes a lot of trial and error.  It also takes time, which some henna artists really do not want to invest.  They just would rather buy pre-mixed imported paste that says "natural" on the label and use that because they really believe "that is what people in India are using." I've actually overhead someone saying that. 

 The fact is, most henna artists in India and other regions have to know how to make their own henna paste to even be considered as a real artist.  Sure, the imported henna paste can fall into a category of "natural"  but that does not make it safe.  For a natural henna stain to achieve a nice dark color, henna paste should contain terps.  Certain essential oils have this chemical structure to be used in henna paste, so does gasoline. Now you tell me, which one is cheaper and easier to have access to in large quantities?  Gasoline is also considered a "natural" resource.  There are also other ingredients that are used in imported henna paste that increase the shelf-life of the product.  The henna paste that is manufactured in another country that has to be sent over to the U.S. will always contain "preservatives".  That's a nice little word, isn't it? 

Natural, hand-mixed, safe henna has a shelf -life of 3 days.  After 3 days it rapidly expires. Heat speeds up the process.  Imported henna cones are coming over from a warm climate.  In addition to scarring, the preservatives and other "natural" ingredients in imported henna paste are toxic and carcinogenic.

In addition, PPD is the common ingredient in "Black Henna" which is a black colored, so called henna tattoo.  The reality is, there is no "henna" in black henna.  If anyone tries to put this on you, run as fast as you can.  If anyone tries to tell you that you only need to let the paste sit on your skin for 1 hour because it is "fast henna" or "emergency henna" then tell them to go back under the rock that they slithered from and then run.  There is such a thing as Jagua which gives you a blueish black tattoo and Hengua which is a mixture of Henna and Jagua which gives you a purpley black tattoo.  Both Jagua and Hengua are safe and natural and do not contain PPD.  Please refrain from calling them Black Henna as to not confuse anyone.

Here is a photo of a very unfortunate, permanent reminder to not use chemical laced henna.  

and this one

 Lovely isn't it?

So here are some common offenders.  Do not ever use these, as convincing as their ebay listings are, super low prices, imported from India, "natural".  You can buy an entire box of these for $6!  Did  I mention, they come in an assortment of colors? No wonder so many so-called henna artists use them!

Photo credit to TropicalBirdArt

 

Below is a link to purchase the same henna paste that I make and use on myself and my customers.  Once you purchase it, I will make a fresh batch the day it ships out to you so it will cure in the mail, Priority Mail shipping and be ready to use and still fresh as soon as you get it.  You can also freeze it for up to 6 months.  I do not ship my paste outside of the U.S. because since it is a safe and natural product, it will expire.  If you are an International customer, I can sell you what you need to mix the paste yourself as well as the instructions. 

http://www.infinefeathers.com/product/diy-henna-paste-essential-oils-natural-henna-tattoos

 

 

 

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Comments

Great!

I am a henna tattoo artist. I agree with what you said.

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