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TEMPTED BY TEMPORARY TATTOOS? There’s no such thing as ‘Black Henna’...

While on holiday, many people opt to have a fun temporary henna tattoo applied on the beach or by the pool. This article warns of the dangers of fake Henna.



There is no such thing as ‘black henna’ and so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos can cause painful short and long-term damage to skin.

The problem is that not many people know about the danger lurking in what

looks like a bit of temporary holiday fun

So what is in ‘black henna’?

The truth is that so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos are not likely to be henna at all, but may contain a substance called PPD (paraphenylenediamine).

This use of PPD is illegal in the EU, and it can be very harmful if applied direct to your skin in these types of temporary tattoos, often at high concentrations.

New research by YouGov for the CTPA reveals one in ten Brits have had a potentially dangerous ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo. Almost half of these had the ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo done on holiday

18-24 year olds were the most likely age group to have had a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo

“Temporary ‘black henna’ tattoos can illegally contain the substance PPD, which is used safely and legally in hair colorants. These types of tattoos can trigger a painful allergic reaction called ‘contact dermatitis’, which means an inflammation of the skin, and that inflammation can sometimes take months to settle and even leave a scar.

‘Black henna’ temporary tattoos can also cause long-term damage by making your skin more susceptible to reactions – people don’t realise that allergies can build-up over time, and that just from having a ’black henna’ temporary tattoo, they might never be able to colour their hair again. So always carry out an allergy alert test. Avoid ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos because they can spoil your fun, and leave a lasting, nasty legacy afterwards, too.”

Hermione Lawson British Skin Foundation

PPD – what does it do? PPD is used safely and legally as an ingredient in hair colorants, but when applied directly to the skin in a temporary tattoo it can leave you with a swollen, sore, red ‘burn’. It can also sensitise you to PPD, triggering a painful allergic reaction called ‘contact dermatitis.’

And it doesn’t stop there. If you have been sensitised to PPD through a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo, you are very likely to react to PPD elsewhere in future, such as in hair colorants.

Hair colorants themselves are regulated under the stringent EU cosmetic safety regulations and are perfectly safe to use when the instructions are followed carefully.

But because an allergy is for life, you may never be able to use permanent hair colours in future without risking a bad reaction.

Under 1.5% of the population has the potential to develop an allergy to PPD • But only 0.1% of these will then go on to develop an allergy to PPD • In comparison, 1-5% of the population have allergies to foods such as nuts

What is an allergy and how does it work?

Millions of people come into contact with PPD every day, in hair colorants. A very small number of people do have the potential to be allergic to PPD, just as some people develop allergies to foods like nuts or shellfish.

  • Allergies can build-up over time, which is why it is important to do an Allergy Alert Test every time you colour your hair.

  • Having a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo can sensitise you to PPD. So having a reaction to a temporary ‘black henna’ tattoo may mean you’ll have to avoid colouring your hair altogether in the future – so steer clear of ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos!

* article sourced from


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