Beware of Black Henna Tattoos


I am a fan of henna tattoos. Acck. If there isn’t a lot of restrictions placed on people with permanent tattoos, I’ve probably already have one etched on my back. Anyway, I can’t recall how many times I’ve had a henna tattoo. I never had an unpleasant experience with them, so I am confident that every time I get one, it would turn out okay. My latest experience with henna tattoo is a totally different story.

I got two tattoos when we went to Laiya last April 25: one on my nape and one on my right let. Miko and two of “cousin-in-laws” also had tattoos. My tattoos were okay for more than a week. The one on my nape was fading faster. However, last Monday, I felt weird bumps on my nape. Look at what I found:

The ink was all gone but it left an ugly red scar that follows the shape of the tattoo. The tattoo on my leg is still intact but I’ve noticed that slight signs of red swells too:

The scar on my nape was also a bit itchy and stingy. I asked Miko if he had the same experience on his tattoo, he said no. I did some researching and it turns out I might have paraphenyldiamine (PPD) allergy.

PPD is a chemical added to henna to make it appear darker and for the ink to last longer. Natural henna should be dark orange to brown. It turns out that adding PPD to natural henna should not be practiced for the chemical can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. In fact, it is even banned in some countries. PPD is also a potent mutagen and a person exposed to very high concentrations of PPD can suffer serious health consequences. I also learned that more and more people are complaining about allergies resulting from henna tattoo where in fact in natural henna should be actually safe to use.

I am advised by my officemates to go a dermatologist, but I refused to do so because most of them might not be even aware of PPD and because I feel they will just loot money from me. Besides, there is no cure to PPD allergy. It will stay in my bloodstream for the rest of my life. Antihistamines and topical ointments are often prescribed to alleviate the swelling and itchiness. I read several journals and found that hydrocortisone ointments might do the trick. I bought one and started applying them yestrday. Thankfully, the swelling already subsided.

So what do I get from my PPD allergy? A lifelong allergy on chemical dyes. I have to think twice before getting a henna tattoo  or having my hair dyed for it might result to severe allergic reaction. I also have to be careful with black dyes, black ink, PABA-containing cosmetics, medicine with sulfonamides and sulfones, and anything with paraphenyl content.

My case was still a mild one. I am hoping that the scar will disappear in time. I read that in some cases the scar becomes permanent. Wah! It’s like I am branded with the symbol of an effing gang! I guess I can kiss my penchant for tattoo goodbye. Ha. So much for being a chemist. Damn irony. The next time you’ll get a henna tattoo, think again.

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9 thoughts on “Beware of Black Henna Tattoos

  1. Hey, extremely good website. I am also working on this topic. I infect came through this on

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  2. STAY AWAY FROM EVIL BLACK HENNA,
    i hate people who are aware of the dangers but still use it on there customers. I had a friend a few years back who came back from holiday with one it looked great for a while then it started itching, thankfully it left her no permanent damage. Recently i have discovered Jagua it too is black in colour and lasted about 10 days it looked like a real tattoo which gave my partner a bit of a fright with thankfully no health dangers associated to black henna(PPD.
    Hope you have better luck in the future.

  3. Grant

    It really annoys me when people use products they know can be dangerous to there customers. I recently have tried jagua this too is black in colour and lasted about 10 days it was similar to henna to apply. Maybe give this ago and dont go near black henna ever again.

    1. Which layout? hahah. I just changed my layout today three times. I’m experimenting. Hehhe.

      @Tattoo. Nope. I didn’t go. The swelling already subsided. The ointment I bought was effective. Hopefully the scar will also fade in time.

      Online ka nga! 😛 Uwi ako bicol mamaya. 🙂

        1. ^^ Sige. I’ll retain ths for awhile though I find the fonts too big for my taste.

          Asa Naga ako sa Saturday. 🙂 Visit ko din kasi bagong baby cousin ko.

  4. Sorry to hear about your experience but it’s great that you share your story, and gave a lot of important details so that others will avoid PPD. I’m a henna artist and it makes me mad that people do this crap on their clients and tell them that it’s henna; it gives real natural henna a bad name. I hope that your skin returns to normal.
    moorhenna.wordpress.com

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog. It also saddens that me that there are some who use PPD on natural henna. I am a big fan of henna tattoos, so it makes me mad just thinking that I might not be able to get a henna tattoo ever again. 😦

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