Far from being a passing fad, henna tattoos have existed for thousands of years across Africa, India, and the Middle East. The dye is made by drying the leaves of a henna plant and then crushing them into a fine powder. This is added to water and oil, which will then stain the top layer of skin when applied like a tattoo.
With only natural ingredients being used, you would think that henna tattoos are perfectly safe. Well, it is incredibly important to understand the different between brown and black henna tattoos.
Brown henna is a natural product and completely safe on most people’s skin. But black henna contains a chemical substance known as paraphenylenediamine or PPD, which is also found in greases, oil, diesel, and petrol.
For this reason, black henna tattoos have caused many people to suffer from allergic reactions, with symptoms ranging from blistering, burns, and even severe scarring.
Here are some recent examples, which prove you should think twice before getting a black henna tattoo, even if it is only temporary.
Seven-year-old boy suffers chemical burns
While on holiday in Tenerife with his Mum and Dad, seven-year-old Logan Chishold was treated to a temporary black henna tattoo of two pistols on his chest. It was only meant to last a few weeks before harmlessly fading away and eventually washing off.
Unfortunately, the black henna tattoo caused Logan severe pain and itching within just a couple of days of returning to the family home in Dalkeith, Midlothian.
“He picked the tattoo from a list of designs and loved it at first,” Logan’s Mum Cheryl told the Daily Record. “However, his chest started getting itchy, red, burning and started to swell and we had to take him to hospital.
“The GP has told us Logan suffered chemical burns and there was a slow reaction of the black henna going into the skin. We’ve since learned that the the wrong henna was used. It should’ve been orange and brown, not black.”
Teenagers gets black henna tattoo bleached off his face
Another shocking case involved James Colley, 18, who got a black henna tattoo in Zante while on holiday to celebrate the end of his exams. Just like his boxing idol Mike Tyson, James chose a tribal-style tattoo on the left hand side of his face.
But after becoming infected, James was rushed to hospital where doctors told him he could be left with scarring for up to five years. In a radical course of action, the only option was to have the black henna tattoo bleached off.
As James told Sky News: “I went on a lads’ holiday. Two days in I saw people getting henna and thought it was a good idea… but it flared up and when I turned up at the hospital she laid me down and told me to relax.
“She bleached the skin and said ‘we can stop now if you want’. The pain was really bad, I thought I was going to pass out.
“I would say if you want to get a henna tattoo do your research. Get it done in a proper place with brown henna. It’s not worth the risk of getting it bleached off. The pain isn’t worth it.”
Girl’s temporary tattoo could scar for life
The final example comes from 13-year-old Teigan Koorts, who was allowed to get a temporary henna tattoo while on a family holiday to Faliraki. Even though they picked the ‘weakest’ strength of black henna, it started to itch and burn two days after getting home to Evesham.
Following a month of pain and infection, Teigan was told that the chemical burns could affect her for life, which Mum Kirsty described as a ‘living nightmare.’ She is also determined to warn others about the dangers of black henna tattoos.
“‘With everyone on summer holiday at the moment, I just want to warn everyone to avoid black henna,” she told the Metro. “If sharing Teigan’s experience can help even one child, that’s something.”
So remember, think twice before getting a ‘temporary’ black henna tattoo, because it could scar for life.