The first step is to know the difference between safe henna and bad henna because not all henna is created equal.
Henna is a plant and, just like fruits and veggies, will spoil in a short amount of time.
Henna paste that's purchased in a cone at room temperature will have additives to make it shelf-stable. These adulterants are dangerous and can cause sensitivity, allergic reactions, blistering, scarring and possibly a trip to the hospital.
One of the most common additives to stabilize henna paste so it can sit on a store shelf is Para-phenylenediamine (PPD for short) creating what's known as Black Henna. PPD is illegal to use on the skin in the United States.
No matter where you go for henna, always ask the artist what's in their paste. If they can't tell you or say, "Don't worry, it's safe"... walk away. If the paste has a chemical or gasoline smell... don't get it. You may just save your skin! Take a moment and search Google Images for "dangers of black henna".
NEVER buy henna at a store or an online retailer (see next section below for the exception).
NEVER buy henna that has no ingredient list or is cryptic. You have no idea what's really in it.
NEVER buy henna that labeled along the lines of Emergency Henna, Fast Acting or Quick Staining.
Here's a sample of henna brands that are dangerous for the skin: Afrin, Alia, Al-Maaz, Arzoo, Bansuri, Dulhan, Golecha, Hemani, Inaya, Jannat, Kajal, Kashmir, Kaveri, Malika, Mehak, Mumtaz, Naaz, Nadra, Nazma, Neha, Rani, Real, Rivvai, Ruhani, Satrang, Sehnaaz, Shama, Shankar, Singh, Versha, Wama. There are many more to avoid.
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So you want to know more - that's great!
Recognize the Good Stuff!
SAFE HENNA is made with natural or certified organic ingredients that are easily recognized.
SAFE HENNA expires within hours at room temperature so it's kept refrigerated or frozen. Professional artists/ suppliers of safe henna will tell you what ingredients they use. Want to smell the paste? Just ask - we don't mind! Expect an earthy, floral scent that's pleasing.
SAFE HENNA paste will only ship frozen via overnight delivery so it doesn't demise before you receive it (you'll probably pay more for shipping than the paste). This is the only way to buy safe paste.
SAFE HENNA powder is also available if you want to mix your own. You'll need other ingredients (distilled water or lemon juice, sugar and specific essential oils).
I make my own paste. The henna powder I use is from Rajasthan, India and is Certified Organic. It's imported by fellow artist and business owner, Jody at Beachcombers Bazaar in Orlando, Florida. Feel free to check out Jody's website for supplies, ready to mix henna kits, how-to's, classes and other cool stuff.
If you want to learn how to do henna go to a henna conference. There are several in the U.S. that offer classes with world-renown instructors. It's a great way to learn, find suppliers and connect with other artists in our community.
You're welcome to contact me if you have any questions. And remember, safe henna is never black!
Good luck and have fun,
P.S. I do not receive any compensation for the recommendations given. I do not sell my henna paste.