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Are “Harmless” Henna’s Hurting Your Skin?

Posted on 29 June 2015


For most people, the permanence and pain of an inked tattoo is enough to keep them from ever getting one. For these people there are alternatives, such as the Henna tattoo. The Henna tattoo is a practice indigenous to Asian and Indian cultures, where its artful application is known as Mehndi or Mehandi. The substance used in Henna tattoos is acquired by crushing the leaves and twigs of the henna plant, which grows naturally in South Asia and North Africa. In much more ancient times, it was applied almost solely for special occasions, such as weddings—it was meant to confer a blessing. Today, however, opportunities to get Hennas abound. Whether for a theme party, when on vacation, or just to try something new, many people have experienced the swirling sensation of Henna tattoo designs.

Since it has become so mainstream, however, its potential health impacts have gone largely overlooked. It should go without saying that before you put anything on your skin (especially a paste meant to last for weeks), that you will do some research on it. Fortunately we here at Evologie have done that for you! The following is a summary of what you need to know when deciding if you should get that mystical Henna tattoo.

Henna should be Brown

Pure Henna (that which has been made entirely from natural products and oils) is safe. Assuming that you have no allergies to the substance, it is safe to apply to your skin. If you don’t know if you’re allergic and want to be cautious, you can start with a small tattoo, or have a little glob applied, before deciding to let your hands, arms, or feet become an entire canvas.

Black like the Plague

If you are offered a design in Black Henna – run. No natural Henna substances comes in black, and if it has reached that color it is being mixed with other chemicals such as black hair dye. Henna should always be some varying shade of reddish-brown. While Black Henna may be visually appealing and longer lasting, it is not safe. So rampant have been problems from Black Henna that the FDA has issued a warning against the substance, stating that it can lead to “redness, blisters, raised red weeping lesions, loss of pigmentation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and even permanent scarring” on your skin. The FDA also warns that some Henna “artists” can get away with these malpractices because the laws for temporary tattoo regulation vary from state to state, letting some of perpetrators go unchecked. The warning is mainly against Black Henna, but precaution should be taken against any color that isn’t the natural reddish-brown, maroony substance.

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