A man gets a mehndi using henna as a temporary form of skin decoration in Kidapawan City in Mindanao. Henna tattoo, usually reddish or indigo in color, is popular among many holidaymakers and beach goers in the Philippines. But “black henna” which contains synthetic hair dye or para-phenylendiamine should never be put straight on the skin, plain, or mixed with other material because it can seriously injure people.
Para-phenylenediamine is a strong sensitizer, transdermal toxin and potential carcinogen. It can cause itching and blistering of the skin.
However, there are safe and effective traditional techniques of making natural henna go dark red or dark brown, even nearly black. Heat and the addition of essential oils such as Tea Tree oil are the safest and most effective darkeners of henna.These may make nearly black stains on hands, but on the rest of the body, the stains will be brown. Henna never leaves “black” stains on the skin. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Geo Solmerano)