Updated: Jul 6

Hi, this is Roshni from SourcEEZ International – Beauty & Wellness Division. We are exporters of an entire range of Cosmetics, Essential Oils, Henna, Herbal Powders, Attars and other beauty and wellness products.

Today we are going to discuss about henna - a herb widely cultivated in areas around Sojat, in the north western region of India and is increasingly gaining popularity across the world.

Henna, also known by the botanical name (Lawsonia inermis L.) has been known to mankind for thousands of years. It has been widely used as a natural ingredient for hair colour, conditioner, mehndi, coolant for skincare and off late as an ingredient for body tattoo.

For all my friends with an inquisitive mind who wish to know how henna works, let me explain to you.

The henna plant contains a red-orange component, 2-hydroxy-1,4-napthoquninone (Lawsone) which is the active constituent in henna leaves and is important to deliver the colour.  The leaves are reduced to fine powder and mixed with water, to form a paste, and applied to the hair to deliver the colour and conditioning.

Your hair is made up of two or three layers. The outer, protective layer is called the cuticle which protects a layer called the cortex which further protects the layer called medulla-the innermost layer. When used to dye hair, the henna paste coats the hair shaft and lawsone gradually migrates from the henna into the hair shaft through gaps in the cuticle, then binds with keratin and strengthens the cuticle. This results in naturally coloured hair. With repeated use, the colour of the hair settles and deepens.

Apart from Hair colour, henna is used for body art wherein pure henna with the highest natural dye content and perfect sift is used. The leaves of the henna plant are dried, crushed into a fine powder, and made into a creamy paste. This paste is then applied, staining only the top layer of the skin. The paste looks green at first but will flake off revealing an orange stain that turns reddish-brown after a few days.

Henna comes in different types such as:

Natural Henna - It is extracted from pure leaves of henna and largely used for providing coverage to grey hair and body art. The natural colour of henna is red orange. It is also known to offer a calming and soothing effect on the applied portion of the body. The powder form of this herb is very popular as it can be used for various purposes.

Neutral Henna- Also called as Senna that comes from Cassia Obovata leaf, which is a potent botanical that not only does wonders for your hair, but it also has a powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Cassia is colourless, meaning that you will not get any alteration in your hair colour when used. Widely used as a natural henna hair conditioner. It is very useful for those who like to use henna for natural conditioning without changing their natural colour. 

Black Henna - There are two types of henna in this category.

1.      The first one is, henna mixed with natural herb Indigo, which is safer to use. This type of henna gives deep brown to black colour.

2.      The other one is henna mixed with para-phenylenediamine (PPD) chemical, to get a more intense black colour. Henna with PPD is highly allergic and can harm the hair and skin.  

As a cosmetologist, I would recommend avoiding the second variant so as to prevent allergic reactions.

Herbal Henna - Extracted from the pure leaves of henna, herbal henna is widely used for hair colouring and hair conditioning. This is a natural herb which has medicinal properties and is widely used in scalp treatment. Herbal henna comprises various other herbs added to enhance the effect of henna such as: Amla, Shikakai, Brahmi, Bhringraj, Jatamansi, Aloe Vera, Hibiscus, Methi, Neem.

Henna is widely used in various preparations, some of the most popular are: 

1.      Henna Powder

2.      Henna Leaves

3.      Henna for Body Art

4.      Henna & Herbal Blends

5.      Henna Cone

6.      Henna Hair Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner etc

Henna Grades

Henna generally comes in different grades depending upon the area of production, filtration process, and lawsone content such as:

  • Single refined (A Grade) – Obtained by sifting clean henna powder in sifter machines with mesh size of 50 mesh.

  • Double refined (A+ Grade) – Obtained by sifting clean henna powder in sifter machines with mesh size of 70 mesh.

  • Triple refined (A++ Grade) – Obtained by sifting clean henna powder in sifter machines with mesh size of 100 mesh.

Some agencies do bifurcation of henna in following criteria:

  • A-Grade: Area of production

  • AA-Grade: Factory environment to remove sand and other impurities from henna leaves; and

  • AAA-Grade: Passing all the laboratory tests standards

The top-grade AAA or A++ must contain the following

  • More than 1.8% lawsone content

  • Free from impurities, pesticides, chemical fertilizers

  • Pass laboratory tests on the usage levels of diamines, picramic acid, metals, E. coli etc

The PPD Issue

There has always been a debate about usage of PPD in henna. Personally, if you ask me, I would recommend you to go for a PPD free henna.

Pure Henna will make your hair healthy and beautiful unlike adulterated henna products that could ruin your hair. It comes with a limitation that applications have to be repeated several

times to get a desired output but it completely eliminates any risk of reactions.

Adulterated henna contains henna with various chemicals such as p- phenylenediamine (PPD), p-methylaminophenol, p-aminobenzene and p-toluenodiamine to produce a variety of colours. Health experts say the use of dye para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which adds a black tint to the henna, can cause blistering, open sores, scarring and can even have fatal consequences if someone has an allergic reaction to it. But still there are people who wish to have PPD in henna for instant colouring. In such cases, it is better to be informed about the percentage of PPD which the henna pack is containing.

To avoid such reactions, other plant dyes can be added in various proportions to henna to create hair dye colours. Some of the commonly used plant dyes are:

  • Indigo

  • Woad

  • Walnut

  • Cassia Obovata/Neutral Henna/Senna

  • Catechu

  • Saffron

  • Chamomile

  • Rhubarb etc.

Sterilization of Henna

Gamma irradiation is a physical/chemical means of sterilization, as it kills bacteria by breaking down bacterial DNA, inhibiting bacterial division. Gamma irradiation drastically reduces the microbial population. Exposure the henna powder into gamma radiation does not affect the colour delivery, as well as lawsone content also.

Application of higher amounts of gamma radiation drastically reduces the viscosity of the henna hair colour powder. In such cases, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose can be used in the formulation as a thickener. It helps to increase the viscosity and consistency of paste.

Henna Leaves Henna Powder Black Henna for Body Art

That’s all for this section. Stay tuned for our next blogs.

And of course, please feel free to contact us for any of your requirements of cosmetics from India.

Email: info@cosmeticexporter.com

Website: www.cosmeticexporter.com

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