MED: Dangers of Black Henna

From: Chris Rasch (
Date: Sun Feb 25 2001 - 00:32:12 MST

If you've ever been in Venice beach in L.A. (or almost any beach resort)
you've probably seen street artists offering henna tattoos. According
to this article, you should take care that the artist is using natural
henna (which results in an orange/brown tattoo) and not "black henna"
which often contains a toxic dye (and results in a dark black tattoo
when applied).

What is "black henna" ?

       Henna itself does not naturally dye skin black, though there are
       available for sale called "black henna". If a product is called
"black henna"
       there has been something added to the henna to make it turn
black. The
       additional dye may or may not be dangerous. PPD,
P-Phenylenediamine is
       frequently added to henna to make it stain black. PPD may also
be used
       alone to stain skin black. PPD stains the skin absolutely black
within 2
       hours and the stain can last easily 2 weeks. PPD is extremely
dangerous in
       either case, because it is a toxin that is able to get into the
       through the skin. Once in the system, PPD toxins can collect in
the liver,
       causing serious damage.

       Traditional henna naturally, safely, stains the skin some color
in the range
       of brick, carmel, cocoa, bittersweet, burgundy, red, or under
       conditions, coffee color.

       Other products called "black henna" may have indigo or food-type
       added to henna. These are generally not harmful to skin. They
also do
       NOT stain the skin JET BLACK quickly, and the stain does not last
       These fairly harmless dyes only stain the outermost skin cells on
       epidermis, and the stain is generally gone in a few days to a

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