Is henna bad for hair?

Is henna bad for hair? So many people ask this question, but here it will be answered in a few different parts, because pure henna, is great for the hair, but adulterated henna is bad all around.

What is henna?

Henna is a desert plant in which the leaves are dried and powdered to be used for the hair and body. The petiole (center vain in a leaf) is where most of the lawsone from a henna leaf comes from. Lawsone is the name for the natural orange-red dye molecule from henna. The red-orange dye molecule is what stains the stain and what colors the hair.

Using a mildly acidic liquid or powder-distilled water combo, lawsone can be “released” from the henna powder.

What is compound henna?


Compound henna doesn’t always include henna. It contains adulterants and metallic salts that caused the “henna” to bind much faster and creates different colors such as brown or black. Compound henna is very common and can be dangerous because the ingredients lists are often doctored to reflect a more appealing “natural” list.

You can read more about both compound and pure henna here:

Is there a difference between henna for body art and henna for hair?

No; pure henna is henna. You may see “henna” offered for body art that is black. This is adulterated henna and is not safe because it contains either PPD (paraphenylinediamine) or a component very similar. You can read more about the science of henna and the skin here:

You can read more about the dangers of “black henna” here: Henna is Not Black: Stopping the Illegal Use of Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) on Skin

Is henna bad for hair?

Pure henna is actually great for the hair! You can find the benefits of using henna here. Henna not only colors hair, but it can protect the hair from UV rays, chlorine, and more because of the tannins naturally found in the lawsone.

How can I get other colors besides red?

Henna gives a red color on hair, but you can use other natural plant dyes such as cassia and indigo. If you’re not sure where to start, you can contact Mehandi’s customer support team:, 1-855-MEHANDI, or chat at

Maria • Ancient Sunrise® Specialist Licensed Cosmetologist

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