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The toxic cocktail of black henna tattoos and hair colour

Published date 28 June 2023

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When it comes to the health and safety of your clients this summer, don’t forget about the link between black henna tattoos and hair dye. 

The topic of black henna tattoos might not be top of your list when thinking about potential holiday dangers, but anyone having their hair dyed following a black henna tattoo could pose a higher risk to having an allergic reaction. 

Here’s the lowdown… 

Black henna is illegal in the UK, the reason being that it contains a chemical called p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) which is also found in dark hair dyes. PPD is completely legal in hair dye, but only to a certain level and it is strictly regulated. 

In the UK we still follow EU Legislation which states that the maximum concentration of p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) in hair colour must not exceed 2%. Our levels in hair colour are safe and approved. 

Here’s the alert…

There are major concerns about black henna tattoos and the exceptionally high levels of PPD they contain. Firstly, in the UK they are illegal, and outside the UK there’s confusion about what legislation they fall under. Strictly speaking they’re not cosmetics, which begs the question what legislation do they fall under? Secondly, the excessively high levels of PPD in black henna is dangerous. Often, they are applied on the street or beach, and you will have no idea of the levels of PPD being used. 

How can this impact a client? 

Well, whilst some people may have a reaction immediately, or after a few days or weeks, others can be much longer, and this is where the concern truly lies as the link is less obvious. Anyone who has been over exposed to PPD, the only way to know and to avoid a severe reaction is to do a patch test before having hair colour. 

The solution…

Colourstart! Colourstart professional allergy screening is the first clinically proven test for allergy to hair colour to be licenced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It is a universal patch test for use across all colour brands. It allows for complete colour freedom as it tests against PPD. 


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