What is Henna?

Henna is a shrub, commonly found in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Pakistan and India.  The flower of the henna plant is used to make perfume, and the leaves of the plant contain a strong orange/red/brown dye that binds permanently with protein.

The leaves of the henna plant are picked, dried and ground into a superfine powder, called BAQ (Body Art Quality) henna powder.  Antoinette imports the highest quality henna powder available from India and Pakistan.

The henna paste is made using the henna powder, distilled water, essential oils and sugar.  The essential oils could be any of the following:  Cajeput, Lemongrass, Geranium, Lavender, Clove Bud, and Sweet Orange.  Often we use a blend.  Please ask if you have any questions about the ingredients!  We’re always happy to discuss our recipe and address any concerns!

Remember that henna is always stains natural brown color, and it takes time and air to darken.  After the henna paste has been on for the recommended 4-8 hours, you remove the dried paste to reveal the stain.  Henna stains should always start off an orange color and turn brown gradually over a couple of days.


  • Use the Online Scheduler to make your appointment!
  • Henna is mixed no less then 12 hours prior to your appointment
  • 0 hour: Henna is applied to your skin!
  • 30 min: Within an hour, it will dry to the touch
  • 4 hours: Keep the paste on for 4-8 hours.  Gently remove the paste and don’t get it wet!  The stain will be orange.
  • 16 hours: it’s ok to get it wet now, but it’s better to use the aftercare balm!
  • 1 day: the henna is getting darker!
  • 3 days: the henna is at it’s peak of color!
  • 5-7 days: the henna is now just starting to fade
  • 1-3 weeks: the henna is fading away, leaving your skin bare and ready for another henna!

What is “Black Henna”?

“Black Henna” is a chemical dye known as PPD or p-Phenylenediamine.  It is a common ingredient in hair dye, but is also used in textile dying, and is a common additive to rubber products such as tires.  It is a common contact allergen, can cause contact dermatitis, including rashes and boils.  The American Contact Dermatitis Society named it 2006 “Allergen of the Year.”

But this is where it gets scary; it is not uncommon to have permanent scarring and lifetime sensitivity in the shape or area of the applied design.  There are reported cases of liver damage, and anaphylaxis death due to prolonged exposure to hair-dye and over-use of PPD “henna”.

There is an alternative to PPD that stains a blue-black color called Jagua.  It’s made from the unripened genipa americana fruit.  Some artists have been mixing the Jagua liquid with henna and are calling it “Hengua” or other variations.  Because of an increased percentage of reactions and allergens, we chose not to offer Jagua products at this time.

“How do I know if the henna is safe?”

Always ask your henna artist what’s in the mix!  If they can’t or won’t tell you, don’t have them apply it to your skin.  Henna products are not always fresh, and not always natural.  If the stain starts light and turns dark, it’s usually safe!  Adulterated henna cones and PPD will be dark immediately after the paste is removed.  If the artist tells you to leave it on for hours, it’s usually ok!  PPD and other chemically enhanced and adulterated henna products will stain immediately and often cause itching if left on for a long time.  If the artist tells you to wash it off after 30 minutes, don’t have it done!  Smell the paste! If it smells like gasoline, petrol, or other solvents, it’s because it has those items in it!  They’re great preservatives, but they’re not great for your health.  Henna should smell like grass if it doesn’t have essential oils, and will smell like the essential oils if there are.

PLEASE ask your henna artists what’s in the mix!  If they won’t tell you, don’t get it done!