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    Did You Know These Harmful Chemicals Are Present In Henna?

    Who doesn't like naturally shiny, smooth and lovely hair, that is devoid of any infection? Nowadays, when the market is full of artificial or chemical-based products for hair, any nature-based treatment is always welcome.

    One of the plant-based products, as you may be aware, which has been used over centuries for naturally beautiful hair is - Henna, or as it is commonly called in India - Mehendi. It is a medium-sized shrub and may have multiple branches as well as fragrant flowers.


    Historically, its leaves as well as flowers have been known to be used in the Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, etc., owing to the multiple benefits they offer.

    A point worth noting here is that we are referring to the natural form of henna with its many advantages.

    Apart from beautifying the hair by adding a temporary colour to it, enhancing the hair health by conditioning it and also reducing hair loss to a great extent, henna is used for a variety of other purposes.

    Some of the examples are mentioned below:

    1. Reduction in brittleness of nails.
    2. Treatment of skin ailments such as boils, burns, bruises, leprosy or even swelling caused by inflammation, prickly heat, etc.
    3. To cure burning feet sensation.
    4. Treating headaches, arthritis-related pain, etc.
    5. Treatment of dysentery, liver-related disorders such as jaundice, enlargement of the liver, etc.

    Common Usage Of Henna:

    • As a natural hair dye: To colour hair, and mostly grey hair, black henna is one of the most commonly used hair dyes.
    • For body art: Decorative designs are created on a person's palm or any other part of the body, using the paste of henna leaves. In India, people, especially women, use henna to decorate their palms during festivals, functions, etc.
    • For skin care: Henna-based oil is useful as an anti-ageing product. Also, it is used for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to protect the skin from wounds, scars, infections, etc.
    • As a temporary tattoo: Instead of permanently marking the skin, the temporary tattoos using henna stay on the skin on a temporary basis.
    • As a hair conditioner or shampoo: The soothing and cleansing properties of henna make it a wonderful conditioner as well as shampoo for the hair.
    • As a hair tonic: A henna-based hair tonic is extremely beneficial for the hair and scalp both, since it keeps the dandruff away, cures dry scalp off any infections, treats damaged hair, prevents greying of hair, and encourages natural shine and softness of hair.
    • In the hair oil form: The essential oil prepared with henna powder helps nourish the scalp and enhance hair growth. Frequent usage of this henna-based hair oil is a wonderful remedy for loss of hair.

    Is Henna Harmful?

    The answer to this question is - Yes and No. Confused? Well, it is absolutely safe, only if it is used in its natural or pure form. It nourishes your hair by conditioning it and helps protect it from the harsh sun rays.

    Now, how about the artificial henna from the market? Does it offer the similar kind of benefits? Well, not really! The presence of certain chemicals in it can cause gradual and permanent damage to the hair, skin or any area where it may be applied or used.

    Let us first know more about these chemical ingredients in henna along with the adverse side effects that they cause.

    Henna comprises a dye molecule called lawsone, i.e., 2-hydroxy-1 and 4-naphthoquinone in chemical terms. The presence of this dye molecule makes the henna a popular choice for dyeing the skin, nails, etc., and also for garments such as leather, wool and silk.

    PPD, or para-phenylenediamine, is the chemical in henna that causes it to last longer and also dry quicker. Its chemical formula is C6H8N2.

    For example, black henna, which is used to provide a dark black tint to the hair, especially grey hair, contains the PPD. Also, for dyeing of textiles or fur, dark-coloured cosmetics, temporary tattoos, etc., PPD is used extensively.

    Harmful effects Of PPD In Henna Are Related To:

    • Skin: PPD can lead to peeling off of the skin, various allergic reactions such as blisters, rashes, eczema, inflammation, itchiness, redness, etc.
    • Eyes: The usage of PPD-rich henna may cause adverse effects to the eyes such as irritation, swelling, wateriness, etc.
    • Mouth: Swelling of tongue, mouth, throat, etc., leading to difficulty in swallowing or even breathing can be another negative effect of PPD.
    • Stomach: Exposure to PPD may result in stomach-ache, nausea, vomiting, gastritis, etc.
    Apart from the aforesaid, certain people could experience miscellaneous effects such as trembling, vertigo, seizures, lightheadedness, wheezing, etc., on consistent usage of artificial henna comprising of PPD.

    How Can You Avoid These Harmful Effects?

    It's simple! In case of a permanent or temporary hair dye, especially do a patch test to see how it affects your skin or hair. It means, simply dab a small amount of the dye on your elbow or behind your ear, and wait for upto 48 hours to check on any sort of allergic reactions. If you feel any allergic reaction after 48 hours, then simply don't use the product!

    Additional Precautions To Be Taken

    If your skin doesn't adversely react to the patch test, and you go ahead with using the product, then be sure to follow the instructions included in the product packet. For example:
    • Use gloves while applying the product
    • Do not leave the product on your skin or hair for longer than what is the recommended duration.
    • Thoroughly rinse your hair or skin afterwards.

    All these would help you avoid any harmful effects that could be caused by the wrong method of application of the product.

    Always remember

    If you are one of those who prefers using natural henna on your skin or hair, then you can be assured of only the advantages, devoid of any short-term or long-term problems. For instance, a natural mix or paste prepared by the leaves of henna and water, regularly applied on your hair can yield wonderful benefits by colouring, smoothening, cleansing and conditioning of the hair.

    Using artificial, chemical-based henna products should be avoided at any cost. In case of any allergic reactions or ailments, as mentioned earlier, immediate medical intervention should be sought to cure them!

    Read more about: hair care
    Story first published: Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 19:30 [IST]
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