Recently, there has been a lot of press coverage on the dangers of black tattoos. There have been cases of children in particular having black tattoos whilst on holiday abroad and ending up with very bad scars.

First of all let me start by saying that there is no such thing a black henna. Henna is made from the leaves of the Henna plant, has been used for hundreds of years and is perfectly safe. Black “Henna” actually has nothing to do with real Henna and is in fact a chemical called PPD, usually found in hair dyes. It is extremely dangerous when used on the skin and can cause the following problems:

  • In mild cases, itchy, raised skin.
  • In severe cases, blistering burns and can lead to permanent scars.
  • PPD can pass into the bloodstream where it can cause liver and kidney damage, including cancer.

Although not everyone reacts to PPD, my advice is to keep away from it. Any responsible Henna artist will tell you honestly what’s in their Henna mixture. Natural Henna will stain the skin to a colour between burnt orange and a dark brown. You should be wary of anyone promising to give you a black henna tattoo. If in doubt, don’t have it done.

Natural henna will smell quite herbal and will be a colour somewhere between an olive green and greenish brown with a paste-like consistency which is usually piped onto the skin like icing a cake.

Black “henna” looks like black ink, smells strongly of chemicals and is usually painted on with a stick.