Black Henna Info

Click here to see my interview with KOMO News August 2017

I’m sure you’ve heard about “Black Henna” in the media, and have some questions!

Q:  Is henna ever black?
A: No!  Natural henna is always brown, will always stain the skin orange to start off with and will turn brown over 2-3 days.

Q: What about the photos on your site?  That looks black!
A: That’s the henna paste, which is a dark brown color and often looks black in photographs.  That paste will come off and leave behind the brown stain.

Q: What IS “black henna”?
A: A chemical called PPD, short for para-phenylenediamine.  It’s a tar derivative, commonly found in hair dye, and is one of the chemicals used to make car tires black.  It’s NOT meant to be used on the skin.

Q: What can it do to me?
A: At the very least, exposure can cause no immediate reaction, however repeated exposure heightens your chances of developing sensitivities.  Most commonly you’ll have a reaction at the site, often in the form of a chemical burn, with raised bumps, itching, and scaring.  With repeated exposure, there have been cases of liver damage, liver failure, and death.

And PPD isn’t only found in “Black henna”, it’s also found in hair dye, clothing dye, and there are other plastics and chemicals (like medications) that act similarly enough to PPD that our body lumps them in together.  You may not have a reaction where you got the “Black henna”, but you might react to a pair of cheap flip-flops, or perhaps react to lidocane or novocane at your doctor’s office.

Q: I think I’ve gotten a “Black henna” tattoo!  What can I do!
A: First things first, educate yourself about PPD, and educate your doctor as well! (Many doctors don’t know yet about PPD sensitivity.)  Below I’ve got some links to some good starting points.

Q: But what about that other “Black henna”, Jagua?
A: Jagua isn’t black, it’s blue!  It’s unfortunate that people keep calling it “safe black henna” because it just confuses the heck out of people.  Jagua is made from the Genipa americana fruit, found in the rainforests of south america.  I don’t offer Jagua, for several reasons.

Links:
A very comprehensive source about “Black Henna” –  TheHennaPage

A disturbing article about a child’s experience with “Black Henna”