Wellness & Education

Henna Tattoos: A Dye-ing Art

If you’re interested in body art but not ready to commit to a permanent tattoo, henna tattoos are a natural “go-to”. Henna is a reddish brown dye that is made from powder extracted from the henna plant. Unlike a regular tattoo, henna is a temporary stain that lasts about two weeks or longer, depending on where it is located and how dark the dye is. (Henna on the hands, for example, doesn’t last as long as henna on the arm because of frequent washing.) It’s the perfect medium for skin art for the uncommitted.

Henna art has been around since the times of the ancient Egyptians. In India it is known as “mehndi” and is a part of traditional Indian wedding ritual. There is a folk belief that the longer the wedding tattoos last, the longer the marriage will last. Henna designs are commonly drawn from nature. Flowers, vines, butterflies, snakes and dragonflies are popular. Many henna tattoo designs have symbolic meaning. An elephant design, for instance, stands for intelligence, power and dignity. Flowers represent joy and happiness. 30 Beautiful Henna Tattoo Design Ideas & Meaning – The Trend Spotter

Just as a regular tattoo requires care after application, a henna tattoo also needs special care. It should not be touched until the dye is completely dry. After it is dry, it should not be exposed to water if possible since washing will make it fade more quickly. Moisturizers, however, help the tattoo last longer.

While most henna dyes are natural and safe, there is a new type of henna dye, called “black henna” that can be harmful. Black henna dye, which sometimes contains natural henna, frequently contains coal tar hair dye. This hair dye is used because the resulting art is darker and stays on the skin longer than natural henna alone. According to the Food and Drug Administration, coal tar hair dye can also cause severe allergic reactions if applied to the skin, including redness, blisters and permanent scars.

If you want to get a henna tattoo, ask to see what type of henna is being used. If coal tar hair dye, or p-phenylenediamine (PPD is included in the ingredient list, move on to another booth. Some souvenirs aren’t worth the cost.