The henna plant, Lawsonia Inermis, is a shrub that grows in hot arid countries. The leaves of this plant are harvested, dried, and ground up into a very fine powder. The powder is then mixed with an acidic liquid, such as water or lemon juice, in order to release the dye from the plant. Next, sugar and essential oils are added. This paste mixture is then applied to the skin and left on for several hours. Once the paste is scraped off an orange stain will remain which will darken over 48 hours to a reddish/brownish colour and will last seven to ten days.
Henna prepared in this way is perfectly safe for use on skin and has been used for thousands of years in many parts of the world. The studies that have been done on henna have found that there are no adverse effects from using this natural product.
Henna Planet's Ingredients
Henna Planet prides itself on providing the highest quality henna paste that is safe for skin. The ingredients used are: henna powder, organic lemon juice, organic sugar, and Bulgarian Lavandula Angustifolia (lavender essential oil). No added chemicals or toxic ingredients are included in the henna paste.
All of Henna Planet's merchandise is also properly labelled (ingredient list, business address, net quantity etc.) in accordance with the Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act., which is standard practice in the cosmetic industry but not, unfortunately, always followed by importers and merchants of henna products.
Please see the FAQ for more information on natural henna.
What is Black Henna?
Black Henna is not henna at all, but is rather black hair dye applied to the skin in the same way as henna, subsequently leaving a black stain which will last four to six weeks.
Black hair dye contains a very toxic chemical called PPD (para-phenylenediamine) and this dangerous ingredient can not only cause severe skin blistering, itching, swelling and scarring, but can also lead to liver and kidney damage/failure, asthma, cancer and even death.
Always ask the artist what is in their paste. It is preferable that henna paste be home-made and that the artist is able to tell you exactly what is in it. At its basic, henna paste should include ground up henna leaves, lemon juice or water, as well as sugar and essential oils such as lavender, cajeput or tea tree. If the person mentions anything else that sounds suspicious, or if they are vague in their response, or they can’t tell you at all, then please be very cautious.
What is PPD?
PPD is a carcinogen and a transdermal toxin which means that it gets into your blood stream and can cause damage to your internal organs. It is also a strong sensitizer. Every time you are exposed to it you are increasing your chances of developing an allergy to it as well as to products that are related to PPD.
Some people have physical symptoms the first time they are exposed to this toxic chemical. Blistering, redness, and itching can occur three to fourteen days after a black henna application and in some cases can be life threatening. Others may not experience anything initially, but with repeated use may eventually have a skin reaction.
However, it is important to know that because PPD is highly sensitizing, whether you have a physical reaction or not, you will develop a sensitivity to it with repeated exposure.
Reactions to the following may
develop from exposure to PPD
PBA Based sunscreens (para-aminobenzoic acid)
Textile and semi-permanent hair dyes
Benzocaine and other ‘caine’ drugs
Printer and fax inks
Black rubber products
PPD Synonyms to watch out for
Paraphenylenediamine (PPD or PPDA)
Black Henna Burn
Black Henna Scar
Why do people use Black Henna?
Black Henna looks more like a tattoo and lasts a long time. Some people like that there is more of a contrast between the colour of the henna and their skin colour. However, there are safe alternatives and people with darker skin tones can get excellent stains with natural henna.
There are ways to get a dark stain naturally. To start, you need to use good quality fresh henna powder with essential oils that are safe for skin. Secondly, leaving the henna paste on for up to 8 hours, wrapping the henna, and gently heating the henna will all help to make the stain nice and dark.
Some people use a natural product made from a plant, called Jagua, which gives a bluish colour that can look almost black. This is a good alternative to black henna. For those who prefer to use body paints to get a black colour, there are some excellent ones on the market that can create a real tattoo look. Some brand names include Mehron, Kryolan, and Ben Nye.
Black Henna is Illegal
Black Henna is illegal for use on skin in Canada. Please see the Government of Canada’s Health Warning on Black Henna here.
Unfortunately Black Henna is found in many tourist areas in and around Toronto and within Canada. It is also found throughout the world in places such as the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and just about anywhere you would find tourists.
Although it is becoming more common to hear about Black Henna warnings in the media, not enough people are aware of the dangers. It is important to spread the word about this toxic chemical, so please share this information with your family and friends.
Pre-made Packaged Henna Cones
Unfortunately store bought packaged henna cones contain chemicals as well. These products are not regulated by the government and often don’t include a list of ingredients. However, simply opening them up and smelling them will give you a clue as to what is in them. Chemicals such as kerosene, lighter fluid, lye, acid black #2, lacquer and PPD (paraphenylenediamine) have been found in these cones. And don't be fooled by the "Natural Henna" label on them, laboratory tests have found that there is little that is natural about them.
The only way to know what is in the henna paste that you are using is to make sure you are buying directly from someone who has made it themselves and can tell you what is in it. Make sure they are using fresh henna powder, water or lemon juice, sugar, and essential oils that are safe for skin (lavender is the safest, but cajeput and tea tree are fine too). These are the only ingredients necessary for henna paste.
Henna Planet uses henna powder, organic lemon juice, organic cane sugar, and high grade therapeutic lavender essential oil.
Henna Planet labels all henna cones with an ingredient list in accordance with the Canadian Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations.
What to do if you have a reaction to black henna or pre made packaged henna cones
Please go to the hospital or see your doctor, and report it to Health Canada here.