"Black henna", culture & colonialism. What gives?

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

The Internet can be a beautiful, scary place. I will often find myself down dark rabbit holes of depressing news stories that can cause a deep sadness within me and then BAM I’m watching clips of cute puppies or paint being mixed! This blog post has to do with culture,"black henna" & xenophobia. It is inspired by the current state of the world and the interconnectedness of everything.

First off, what the heck is "black henna"?

"Black henna" is not henna per se, but a chemical dye used in place of natural henna. There is nothing plant-based about it. It often has PPD & other chemicals and solvents in it. Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical substance that is widely used as a permanent hair dye. PPD was declared the Contact Allergen of the Year for 2006 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS). It is NOT totally safe for the hair and therefore not safe nor intended for use on skin. As you know, our skin absorbs what we put on it. You could be scarred for life depending on the concentration of PPD in your paste. "Black henna" is banned in many countries. It is important to recognize the difference between this product and natural henna and be aware of what products you put on your body. "Black henna" will smell like chemicals, and the design will stain black instantly and last for a long time.. If you are unlucky you might experience hives, blistering, or scarring. PPD was developed in France and brought to countries all over the world as a product of colonization.

Everyday I meet amazing friends who find me online through my henna designs and message me about their culture, country and religion. We share ideas, information and find how similar we are even if on the exterior I look wildly different wearing crop tops and short shorts or sharing almost nude pics and my friend is a Hijabi.