Ever worry about the stories from other people about how henna is unsafe, how it hurt them, sent them to the hospital, caused scarring on their skin? Well it's partly true, there are some nasty substances out there that are very harmful to you. However, many people do not know the difference between natural and black henna.
Black henna is actually not henna at all, it is a toxic chemical called PPD (para-phenylenediamine). People use it in a similar way to natural henna to create black henna designs on the skin. However this harmful ingredient can not only cause severe skin blistering, itching, swelling and scarring, but it can also lead to liver and kidney damage/failure, asthma, cancer and even death. It is also highly sensitizing, so over time you are more likely to develop a reaction with repeated use.
Store bought pre-made henna cones are not much better. They are filled with all kinds of awful ingredients such as kerosene, lighter fluid, lye, acid black #2, lacquer and sometimes even PPD. Even if it says 'Natural' on the package it is not necessarily true. A simple sniff of the product will give you a clue as to what is in it. Unfortunately these cones are not regulated by the government and do not always contain an ingredient list.
Natural henna on the other hand is a brownish/reddish stain that is created using the ground up leaves of the henna plant which is then mixed with water or lemon juice, sugar, and certain essential oils (tea tree, cajeput, and lavender are some of the more common ones). This type of henna has been proven to be perfectly safe and has been used for over 5,000 years in countries around the world.
How do you find out if the henna artist you hired is reputable and is using safe ingredients? Here are 5 things you can do:
1. Look up ICNHA
The International Certification for Natural Henna Artists (www.icnha.org) is a team of natural henna artists who have created a certificate programme. By taking their test, which covers everything from principles of skin, to hygiene, safety, and cultural sensitivity, and passing with a score of 95% or more, a henna artist will receive an ICNHA Certification. This certificate shows that a henna artist uses only 100% natural henna without chemicals and also understands the traditional uses of henna. Look for this icon on henna artists' websites or go to www.icnha.org to find a list of artists who are certified.
2. Ask the Artist About Their Paste
If the artist hasn't received the certification, they could still be using natural henna and be reputable. Ask them if they make their own paste. The answer should always be yes (unless they have purchased natural henna paste from another reputable henna artist). They should be completely transparent about their ingredients. If they can't tell you what is in it or they tell you they bought it from a store, run away....far away!
3. Check Out the Artist's Website and Social Media Posts
First of all, they really should be visible on the internet. You'll want to do a search and check them out. Do they post photos of natural henna stains that are a reddish/brownish colour? (Sometimes the henna paste in the photos looks quite dark once it is dry, almost black, this does not mean they are using black henna). Do they educate their clients on the difference between natural and black henna? Do they reassure their clients that they only practice natural henna? In my opinion, it is the social responsibility of the artist to promote and educate about natural henna and safety.
4. Are They Insured?
All professionals working with the public should have insurance of some kind. Insurance companies want you to have as low a risk as possible, so they won't even insure you unless you are using products that are safe for skin. Find out if your henna artist is insured by asking them.
5. Are They a Member of an Association?
Being affiliated with an association like CAFABA, Canadian Association of Face and Body Artists (www.cafaba.ca), which is dedicated to the promotion of the highest standards of health and safety, can say a lot about a henna artist. It shows that they are serious about protecting their clients and ensuring the best possible experience. It demonstrates a commitment to a level of professionalism that should be expected in this kind of service industry.
Finding someone who knows about safety is very important. You don't want to send your guests home with damage to their skin or health. And you certainly don't want to ruin your wedding day or special occasion with horrible lesions on your body.
Once you've found a reputable artist you can then choose the one that you want based on their henna style, knowing that they are using great products that won't cause any harm.
For more information please go to: www.hennaplanet.ca