Avoid Black Henna campaign gathers momentum

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Avoid Black Henna campaign gathers momentum
Black henna temporary tattoos have become the focus of an increasing vocal public awareness campaign, with the material used in these tattoos not likely to be henna at all, but may contain a substance that can cause burning and scars.

Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is illegal in the EU but is often present in black henna temporary tattoos at high concentrations, and can cause blistering, painful skin burns and scarring, according to the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association.

The British Skin Foundation has launched a campaign to encourage consumers to #AvoidBlackHenna as the summer months approach, with getting these types of temporary tattoos a popular activity on holidays. Pop star Natasha Hamilton is one star to throw her weight behind the campaign, following her son’s severe reaction to a black henna tattoo.

“I am backing the British Skin Foundation’s #AvoidBlackHenna campaign as there needs to be a greater awareness of the potential permanent dangers posed by black henna tattoos,”​ she says.

‘Significant risk’

Dr Christopher Flower, Director-General CTPA, says: “The message is clear: having a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty adverse reaction to the tattoo itself.

“It also increases the risk of either not being able to use most hair dyes in the future or having a bad reaction to them if the warnings are ignored. Most importantly, parents will want to safeguard their children this summer by steering clear of so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos.”

The industry organisation notes that once sensistised to PPD through ‘black henna’, consumers are very likely to react to the ingredient elsewhere in future.  PPD is often used in hair colorants.

“Because an allergy is for life, you may never be able to use permanent hair colours in future without risking a bad reaction​,” cautions the CTPA. “Having a reaction to a temporary tattoo may mean you’ll have to avoid colouring your hair altogether in the future – so steer clear of ‘black henna’ tattoos!”

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