Black henna is a chemical hair dye called PPD (paraphenylenediamine) which is known to be extremely toxic and can cause serious health problems, on a short and long term basis. Is is not natural henna.

PPDPPD is used as an ink or added to some henna paste to produce a black stain instead of the original reddish colour produced with natural henna. PPD can also be found in certain hair dyes.

Black henna temporary tattoos is still being offered in various touristic destinations around the world including Morocco, Mexico, the United States and even in Canada, in spite of the fact that it has been banned by Health Canada since 2003.

Exposure to PPD black henna is considered to be a serious health risk for individuals. Numerous medical studies have found PPD dye to cause:
• hypersensitization of the immune system
• severe edema
• blistering
• scarring

And in more severe cases:
• kidney damage
• liver damage
• asthma
• respiratory problems
• certain types of cancer


PPD in an ink or paste form is always an intense black colour.
Henna paste has a dark green or brownish colour.

PPD may cause allergic reactions. Rash from a dye containing PPD develops anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks at the site of where the PPD tattoo was applied.

Natural henna is a very safe product to use for body art or as a hair dye.

PPD stains set very quickly, within 2 hours after application and is jet black in colour.

Natural henna needs to be left on the skin several hours. The colour of the stain will start out as a bright orange and darkens to a reddish brown between 24 to 48 hours after paste removal. Remember that natural henna never produces a black stain.

Before getting a temporary tattoo, here are a few questions you should ask the vendor to help you avoid getting exposed to PPD:

• Does the artisan mix his/her own paste?
• Is there PPD or any other chemicals in the henna paste?
• What ingredients were used to make the paste?
• What colour will the stain be?

hennaLook out for terms such as “mehndi oil” or “black clove oil” which might give you a hint that the product being used to create temporary tattoos may not be safe.

Ingredients such as henna powder, lemon juice, sugar, essential oils (eucaluptus, cajeput, lavender, etc.), tea or coffee are the ingredient most commonly used to mix natural henna paste.





• Health Canada Black Henna Warning
Since 2003, Health Canada has issued a warning of the dangers of using PPD black henna and its health risk. Use or selling of PPD based products are banned in Canada.

• Everything you need to know about Para-phenylenediamine (PPD)
Excellent information page on the increase of sensitization to PPD.

• Facebook Page: Henné noir = danger
Articles (in French and in English) and various information related to the dangers of black henna (PPD).

Article on allergic contact dermatitis to PPD by the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

• Published Medical Articles on the PPD
List of several published medical journal articles regarding the serious health risk associated with the use of PPD black henna and hair dyes.

• PubMed
Article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information concerning PPD temporary tattoo.

• DermNet NZ
Information from the New Zealand Dermatological Society resources website on the dangers of paraphenylenediamine.

• Henna Lounge
Pertinent information for brides and the dangers of PPD.

• Seek beauty, but black henna can harm your skin
Standard Digital news article on the dangers of using PPD black henna.

• Julie McCabe hair dye death sparks black henna tattoo warning
BBC news article on the black henna tattoo warning.

• Krystle's Story
The story of a young woman who developed severe health problems a few days after having had a black henna tattoo.