Do you have a black henna tattoo?

Do you have a black henna tattoo?

If you’re jetting off to sun-kissed faraway beaches this summer you may be tempted to have a fun temporary black henna tattoo applied while you’re there.

Outside of the EU you’ll often be offered a black henna tattoo at the beach or poolside. These tattoos may seem a bit cool and a great way to enjoy body art without the permanence of a tattoo. However, they can lead to problems which you need to be aware of – some of which can affect your hair and scalp.

If you do have a black henna tattoo and you have your hair coloured, then it’s very important to let your colourist know before your next colour services appointment.  Why? Because even if you have your hair regularly coloured, black henna tattoos can cause you to develop new allergies to hair colourants.

What are black henna tattoos?

Henna extract is naturally orange-red in colour. Henna paste is applied to the skin in the pattern of your choice, and slowly leaves behind a stain as the paste dries. This stain pattern  lasts 2-4 weeks and gradually fades and disappears.

However, some tattoo artists offer the much darker ‘black henna’. Unfortunately ‘black henna’ actually isn’t henna at all. These black henna temporary tattoos can cause painful damage to skin and may cause people to develop an allergy to hair colourants which will prevent them from colouring their hair in future.

So what is in black henna?

The black henna temporary tattoos are not likely to be henna at all but instead may contain a substance called PPD (paraphenylenediamine) to give the dark colour. This use of PPD in tattoos (and at such high concentrations) is illegal in the EU and can be very harmful if applied directly to your skin.

What is PPD and what can it do?

Black henna is not, and never was, intended for use as tattoo dye. PPD is used safely and legally as an ingredient in hair colourants but, when applied directly to the skin in a temporary tattoo, it can leave you with a painful allergic reaction and a swollen red ‘burn’.

It doesn’t stop there. Even if you didn’t have a bad reaction to the black henna tattoo  it can still sensitise you to PPD making it more likely you’ll react to PPD elsewhere in future and this is why you need to tell your hairdresser. Hair colourants themselves are regulated under the stringent EU cosmetic safety regulation and are perfectly safe to use.

At Pure Hair your wellbeing is paramount

If you have had a black henna tattoo on holiday this summer please let your Pure Hair stylist know and we’ll carry out a free skin patch test 48 hours before your colour services appointment for your wellbeing and reassurance.