Henna FAQ

Is henna safe?
Yes, henna paste that I mix, and that any reputable henna artist who can tell you exactly what is in their paste, is safe! Unadulterated henna is one of the safest cosmetics ever used, and allergies are rare.  Please take a moment to read up on the section about "Black Henna" below. Although I have never had a customer report an allergy to henna paste that I mix myself, occasionally I meet someone who has sensitivity to the essential oils that I use. If you are sensitive to essential oils, please ask me.  I typically vary the types of oils per batch to suit my mood.  I use a combination of 2 or 3 of the below: cajeput, lavender, rose geranium, eucalyptus, frankincense, clove bud, or tea tree. A patch test is still a good idea if your skin is particularly sensitive.  Lavender is the gentlest and is used on expectant mothers when the henna is applied on the belly.

Do you use "Black Henna"?
Absolutely not! Before synthetic hair dyes were created, "neutral henna" referred to weak henna or cassia that resulted in no change in color to the hair, "red henna" referred to henna that dyed the hair red and "black henna" referred to indigo that dyed the hair black. Nowadays the most common use of "black henna" refers to henna that has been laced with PPD (Para-phenylenediamine), which stains the skin black. Pure unadulterated henna stains the skin orange to start and then darkens to brown when the paste is removed. If someone applies a product to you and tells you your skin will be black and to remove the paste in an hour, it is probably PPD laced henna. PPD is not safe for the skin and many people can have a horrible allergic reaction to it that results in blisters & permanent scarring. I work locally and depend on former clients to have a positive experience with my henna and refer me to their friends. I do not wish to endanger my clients in any way. Please read through the Henna Page's reference materials on the
Dangers of Black Henna.


Do you make your own henna paste and what is in it?
Yes!  Here are my ingredients and the paste smells divine!

  • henna powder (dried, finely powdered leaves from the henna shrub)
  • lemon juice
  • sugar
  • essential oils

I make my own henna paste with henna powder that I purchase from a henna supplier online so that I can always be guaranteed in getting the freshest product.  There are typically 2 crops per year. Stale henna powder doesn’t stain as well as fresh, so always be wary of purchasing your own henna powder from a store where the box is just sitting on the shelf. You have no idea how old it is. I recommend purchasing online. Once I receive my henna powder from the supplier, I immediately store it in the freezer. When it is time to make a batch for an event, I use body art quality 100% natural henna. I mix my own recipe of lemon juice, sugar, and essential oils which may contain 2 or 3 of the following essential oils: cajeput,  rose geranium, lavender, eucalyptus, frankincense, clove bud, or tea tree.  It typically takes 1-2 days to make henna paste so that the acidic component in the lemon juice can break down the cellulose and release the naturally occurring dye in the henna.  The paste is then strained through a nylon sock and filled in hand-rolled mylar cones.  I do not add any artificial dyes or harmful additives.

Is henna a tattoo?  Does it hurt?  
No, a henna design on the skin is not a tattoo and it does not hurt.  In fact, it's very relaxing!  There are no useful words in English to describe a henna stain for ornamenting the skin, so henna designs are frequently called "henna tattoos" by those unfamiliar with henna.  I prefer to use the term "henna design" or "henna body art". Unlike a tattoo where ink is injected under the living dermis, henna only dyes the outermost dead layers of the skin. No needles are used. Henna is painted onto the skin using a cone shaped mylar cone, much like cake decorating. The process is relaxing and pleasant.

How does henna stain the skin?
The lawsone molecule in the henna dyes the outermost layers of your skin which are actually the dead layers of your skin. It takes time for the lawsone to bind with your skin cells, so the henna paste must remain in contact with the skin for as long as possible to achieve a dark and long lasting stain.  I recommend at least 4 hours and overnight if you can do it.  Longer than 10 hours doesn’t seem to yield different results. Heat also makes the dye darker. The stain of the henna will take the natural pigmentation in your own skin and build on that so the same henna design on a darker skinned person will appear darker than on a person with fairer skin.

How long will the design last?
Typically 1-3 weeks.  Depends on the part of the body and depends on how long you leave the drying paste on your skin.  I recommend at least 4 hours as a minimum.  6 is better and overnight is best.  There are also quite a few factors that will affect the stain.  Every person takes henna differently.  A warm internal body temperature will result in a better color.  The color also depends on what part of the body you have the henna placed.  Hands and feet take henna best because you have the thickest and driest layers of skin in these areas - so these parts of the body with henna will always be darkest and last longest. The henna actually permanently stains the dead skin cells that it seeps into and the color will last until those layers exfoliate.  Henna designs fade to due the exfoliation of your dead skin cells.

What colors of henna do you use?
I only have the color that results from the naturally occurring plant dye, which stains first an orange, then develops to a brown color over a day.  I do not carry or use products that stain the skin black, blue, red, green, or purple. These type of products have synthetic dyes that can be harmful to some people's skin.  Please bear in mind that it is the synthetic dye, (typically PPD or Para-Phenylenediamine) that is the issue, not the henna itself. 

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