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The popularity of henna temporary tattoos has spiked after celebrities like Beyoncé have worn the intricate designs on their skin in photos. Many tourists visit places like beaches or malls and are intrigued by the paisley stains. According to the FDA, regular henna is, “… a reddish-brown coloring made from a flowering plant that grows in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia.” It’s a historical and cultural form of decoration in these countries used during celebrations and festivals dating as far back as 3000 BC. However, some places that have popularized the ancient skin designs market black henna, which is potentially dangerous to the skin due to the addition of ingredients like p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical found in hair dye. ABC News reported that the only legal use of henna is in hair dye. The chemical has been approved for the hair, but it hasn’t been deemed safe through testing for direct skin application. Shops that have artists do black henna, use PPD as an ingredient because it improves the lasting wear of the henna tattoo. According to an article published by BBC, “at least 69% of people will suffer a reaction to black henna if it’s left on the skin for 120 minutes or more…” Some people including children, have reported to experience severe skin reactions like redness, itchiness, fluid-filled blisters, that may translate to life-long scarring. An excess of swollen blisters may be an indication of permanent scarring. These reactions are serious enough to take anyone to the emergency room. Sometimes the reaction occurred shortly after the henna was applied or even two to three weeks after. PPD is not permitted to be topically applied to the skin according to the law. Even if it may seem a safe idea to get a temporary tattoo that seems harmless, always be informed about the adverse health effects a topical ingredient could cause and seek immediate help from a doctor if any reactions arise. Don’t forget to think before you ink!

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