Is Henna Safe?
As with all products, there’s the real deal, and there are knock-offs. Pure, organic henna is safe for your skin and hair, but henna with unhealthy additives may irritate or even damage your body.
At Mihenna, we know that you get what you pay for, so we go the extra mile to find safe, organic ingredients for our henna paste. We've spent months testing and perfecting the recipe to find the perfect intersection of healthy, beautiful skin and dark, long-lasting henna stain. Mihenna’s recipe is the best paste for henna tattoos because we care about keeping your skin safe and your tattoos stunning.
How to Tell if Henna is Safe
People have been making henna paste for a long, long time (check out The History of Henna to find out more) - since well before we started inventing chemicals to add to our products. If our ancestors can make it chemical-free, so can we.
Check the ingredients before buying a ready-to-use cone of henna paste. If you can’t recognize an ingredient, you don’t need to buy it. Henna paste is skin safe when all the ingredients are organic, and there’s no additives. Look for these basic ingredients:
- Required Ingredients
- Henna powder - organic is always best
- Liquid - adheres the powder to your skin. Examples: water or tea
- Acidic Component - releases the dye from the henna powder. Examples: citrus juice or apple cider vinegar
- Recommended Ingredients
- Sugar - keeps the paste moist to allow more dye to reach your skin
- Essential Oils - can increase the longevity of the henna tattoo and/or darken the color if they are organic. Examples: eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, etc.
- Additional Ingredients
- Binding Agent - we all know water and oil don't mix, so a binding agent helps hold the henna mix together for longer. Example: guar gum (we don't recommend xanthan gum).
- Conditioning Component - ingredients like yoghurt, shea butter, aloe vera can help keep your skin moisturized. The downside is they will dilute the color so you won’t get the rich, earthy brown we all know and love. We recommend applying coconut oil afterwards to stay moisturized without compromising your henna tattoo.
At Mihenna, we’ve tested various ingredients until we found the perfect combination without sacrificing your safety. Read more about how we made the best henna paste. All our ingredients are combined with USDA-certified organic henna powder from Rajasthan, India. We even called in a professional to find out the molecule components of our henna. Check out the report here to learn more.
As with all organic products, separation is natural. Organic, skin-safe henna doesn’t have a long shelf life because the paste begins to separate. Knock-off companies will combat this by adding preservatives and other chemicals to keep the henna together for longer. These additives expose you to unnecessary risks. If you see a henna paste product that is sitting on a store shelf or does not mention keeping frozen until use, then you know it has those chemicals.
Mihenna solves this problem by mixing small batches of henna paste as the orders come in and binding the mixture together with organic guar gum. We send you fresh paste that hasn’t been sitting around waiting. We recommend you stick the henna paste right in the freezer if you aren’t going to use it right away. Frozen paste can last up to 3 months without separating or losing its color.
You can also get the freshest possible henna paste with The Henna Powder Kit. We provide the organic henna powder, our custom blend of essential oils, and easy-to-use, illustrated instructions, and you mix it up whenever you want. Fresh when you need it.
Smell & Color
There’s something about that fresh henna smell that lets you know it’s good and safe. Your henna paste should smell earthy with likely a hint of essential oils. If you catch any underlying chemical or factory smell, then there’s something else in the recipe that might not be safe to apply to your skin.
The paste itself should be a rich brown color before you apply it. When you first scrape off your dried henna paste, you’ll see an orange henna tattoo. You don’t have to worry! The dye will continue to set for 24 hours, and by the next day, you should see a brown henna tattoo.
Depending on where you place the henna tattoo and how long you keep the henna paste on, the shade will vary. Thin skin won’t hold as many layers of dye as the thick skin of your palms will. If you’re creating a henna tattoo on your arm or leg, you can keep the henna paste on for up to 24 hours to allow as much dye as possible to stain the thin skin of those areas.
Which Types of Henna are Unsafe?
UnPure Henna Paste
Brown henna paste is not always safe for your skin. It’s worth your time to research who you are buying from and what ingredients are included.
Lawsonia inermis, the plant that is used to make henna powder, could have been exposed to contaminated water or sprayed with pesticides. Organic farmers work hard to keep their plants healthy and safe without risking your skin by exposure to chemicals.
Additives may be included in the henna paste to force it to last longer and stain darker. These additives could put you at higher risk for skin reactions or expose you to carcinogens. Freshly made henna is the key to avoiding preservatives and other harmful chemicals.
The infamous black henna is actually a misnomer as it does not actually contain any ingredients from the lawsonia inermis plant. Instead, it is more similar to a black tar that contains a dangerous component called paraphenylenediamine (PPD) that is not FDA approved.
Black henna entices people because it’s cheaper and easier to produce than organic, safe brown henna and because it creates a much darker, near black stain. The risk of black henna is too high though as most people experience an allergic reaction to PPD. These reactions vary from rashes and blisters to permanent scarring or even life threatening conditions.
Stay safe by always avoiding black henna and by researching any ingredients you put into or onto your body. At Mihenna, we want you to look good in gorgeous henna tattoos, but more than that we want you to feel good in your own healthy skin.
Your Questions Answered
Is henna safe for kids?
Yes, organic henna with no added chemicals is safe for children’s skin. However, we recommend waiting until your children are old enough to follow instructions before applying henna. Creating henna tattoos is also a great way to help your child work on fine motor skills, practice patience as their henna paste dries, and learn about other cultures.
If your child has sensitive skin, first test in a small location to ensure they do not have any reaction to the essential oils or acidity of the lemon juice. Please never leave small children unattended with henna paste. If consumed, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea. They may also make a mess. Check out our tips and tricks on how to remove henna stains from skin and fabrics, which are especially helpful when henna-ing with kids.
Is henna safe for pregnant women?
Yes, organic henna with natural ingredients is safe to use during pregnancy. Double check the ingredients list to ensure there are no additives or preservatives, and you won’t have to worry.
Henna tattoos are used culturally during important occasions and to incorporate symbols of good omens for the future. Using henna on your pregnant belly is a great way to celebrate the joy of motherhood and the beginning of new life. Check out our favorite baby bump henna design (spoiler: it’s Beyoncé).
Is henna safe for people with sensitive skin?
Yes, natural henna powder is safe for people with sensitive skin or allergies. Although, you may have a reaction to the other ingredients in the henna paste. Essential oils and acidic lemon juice help to release a dark and long-lasting henna tattoo, but you may find they cause dryness or other potential reactions. Test the paste in a small spot before committing to a full henna tattoo to see how your skin will react.
If you find henna tattoos cause dryness, we recommend using coconut oil to help soothe and moisturize. Plus you’ll get the added bonus of longer lasting henna tattoos.
Is henna safe for pets?
No, you should not attempt to apply henna paste to your pet’s skin, and you should especially not allow your pet to consume any. Ingesting henna paste may cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets and humans. Contact a vet if your animal consumes henna paste.
Is henna safe for hair?
Yes, organic henna paste can be designed to use in hair. Henna paste for tattoos on skin and henna paste for dyeing hair typically have different ingredients and should be used accordingly. Henna hair dye is generally less acidic to avoid drying out your hair. Learn more about using henna to dye your hair in this blog post.
Is henna toxic past its expiration date?
No, expired or separated organic henna is not toxic, but it will be ineffective. Over time, henna will lose its dyeing power and be unable to create a dark brown henna stain. Help your henna paste last longer by storing it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow it to fully thaw before use.