Natural Henna is Safe Henna! Learn how to quickly tell the difference:

natural hennachemical henna
Natural Henna Cones Chemical Henna Cones
Packaging Clear/Colored/patterned hand rolled cellophane or mylar metallic cones, often printed with images/text
Storage Freezer On the counter
Smell Like a spa! Eucalyptus, Lavendar, Tea Tree etc. Pungent, chemical scent, often states, “Mehendi Oil” - no such thing
Paste Color Brownish green Blackish brown
Texture Thick and creamy Watered down, goopy
Paste Time Keep it on for 4 hours or more Keep it on for about an hour
Stain Color Bright orange at first, burgandy/brown/red in 36hrs Reddish brown right away or black!
Stain duration 7-10 days or longer depending on location 3-5 days (if it has PPD, it can last much longer because it’s a chemical burn)

Download the PDF of this table

Natural Henna, aka real henna is a plant, botanical name: lawsonia inermis

Henna is actually a powder at first, which is created by first drying the leaves, then grinding and sifting. Artists all over the world have different recipes and some are very cultural. Recipes can include: tea, cloves, water, lemon juice, sugar and essential oils to create a perishable product. Natural henna has no preservatives and has a shelf life up to 6 months in the freezer for use on skin. After that, it can be used in your hair as a conditioner and coloring.

Full transparency from the artist/supplier is key in deciphering natural vs chemical.

Always ask the artist or the supplier for a list of ingredients and when it was made. If you’re unsure, always do a dot test on your wrist, remove after 5 min and see if the dot is orange or some other instant dark color. An instant result means it’s likely chemical henna. A light to bright orange stain means you may indeed have a natural henna product.

It’s important to be a aware of such subtle differences in order to practice skin safety. There are many versions of chemical henna out there that can cause itchiness, allergic reactions, and worse, skin burns or blood poisoning. Be cautious about what you buy, ask questions, and you will stay safe and natural with your henna.

Terms often used to describe harmful kinds of henna: Imitation henna, color henna, red henna, black henna – the worst of them all, containing PPD

Additional Sources:

CDC listing in their NIOSH Guide to Chemical Hazards:

American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” 2006:

EPA Hazard Summary:

FDA consumer warning:

Learn more about the dangers of “black henna” en espanol