21 July 2024

Black Henna Tattoos & Hair Colour: A Higher Risk of Allergic Reaction?

The topic of black henna tattoos might not be top of your list when talking to your clients about their holiday. Anyone having hair colour following a black henna tattoo could pose a higher risk to having an allergic reaction to their colour.  

Black Henna

Black henna is illegal in the UK. The reason is that it contains a chemical called p-Phenylenediamine (PPD). PPD is completely legal in hair dye, but only to a certain level. It also comes under strict regulations.

Consultant toxicologist David Basketter is one of the UK’s leading voices of authority in toxicology. “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 of are safe and approved for its intended purpose,” David says.

However, 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 take place on the street or beach, and you will have no idea of the levels of PPD in the product they’re using.

The higher concentration the greater the risk

“As with all toxicology, the higher the concentration, the greater the risk. As hairdressers are well aware, there is a strong link between over-exposing the body to PPD and allergic reactions. Most people who have these black henna tattoos will have no idea of the PPD levels they’ve encountered,” continues David.

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. “Black henna tattoos last a few weeks or months, but your client might not have a reaction for 10 years or more. They could have a black henna tattoo done and not notice an inflammation, but years later when you are colouring their hair, they’ll still be allergic to PPD and could have a reaction,David adds.

Colourstart professional allergy screening

If your client 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. 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, not just one specific colour. The test takes place out at home, is left for 2 days and any reaction is noted 2 days after removal. Redness, itching or inflammation indicate allergy to PPD.

CLICK HERE or further information on Colourstart

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