From a May 2006 article contributed to Sista2Sista.com by The Henna Lady
Most women do not realize that henna is actually a process. Traditionally it is an opportunity to beautify oneself and/or enjoy the company of family and friends at the same time. You can get beautiful dark henna stains if you use fresh henna, heat and essential oils. Most importantly, henna is not instant process — time must be taken to “do the henna” right. Therefore, many women prefer “black henna” which is quick, but it is simply not henna. In the past, I myself even used “black henna” for this reason. But as I developed as a henna artist, I realized that this synthetic product is not henna, and is not healthy and so I eliminated it from my services. When I did so, I immediately lost 90% of my clientele. I eventually built my clientele list over the years have enjoyed the blessings of Allah and improved my art and skill using only the richest henna from Yemen, India and Morocco.
Many women who like dark henna stains often use what is referred to as “black henna”. Actually, there is no such thing as black henna. Some products believed to be “black henna” are very dangerous. Most people use synthetic a black hair dye powder that is mixed with water that contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD) to make what is called “black henna” or “katm”. Katm in Arabic means blackhair die and that is what the so called “black henna” is.
So-called “black henna” can cause blistering, open sores, scarring, and lifelong health problems. PPD is been considered toxic and a potential carcinogen and products with PPD in them should never be put straight on your skin. Even when dye is applied to hair, the manufacturer advises the customer to wear gloves.
According to The Henna Page, the premiere source of information about henna: “Black Henna” was once a term for indigo, when it was sold as hair dye. In the 1800’s there was no synthetic hair dye. Henna and indigo were used to dye hair and indigo was marketed as “black henna”. If you see a package of “black henna” in a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery it is probably indigo. If you see a package of black hair dye from an American cosmetic company, it has some form of para -phenylenediamine in it. If you are doing henna for yourself, always, always check the manufacturer’s label for its ingredients.
For more information about the dangers of black henna, visit http://www.hennapage.com and click on “Black Henna” to get more information for your self and make your own decision.
A good henna artist does not knowingly use products that can possibly hurt or harm her clientele. Many henna artists even avoid walnut powder which is an excellent ingredient to a henna paste because of concern for clients who may be allergic to nuts. Most henna artists use tea tree oil, cajeput or other essential oils in their henna.