What Is It?

Henna is the natural material derived from the dried powdered leaves of the plant Lawsonia inermis. Henna is used in the formulation of hair coloring products.

Why Is It Used?

Henna imparts color to the hair. The exact color obtained will depend on the other ingredients that are used in the preparation and the starting color of the hair.

Scientific Facts

Henna is used in semi-permanent hair coloring systems that are usually applied in a shampoo base.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists Henna as a color additive exempt from certification and it may be safely used for coloring hair only. It may not be used on the skin or for coloring the eyelashes or eyebrows. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has deferred evaluation of Henna because the safety has been assessed by FDA. This deferral of review is according to the provisions of the CIR Procedures.

All color additives used in foods, drugs and cosmetics in the United States must be approved by FDA and listed in the Code of Federal Regulations. In some cases, FDA requires that each batch of color produced for use in regulated products can be used only if it is certified by the agency to meet strict specifications. FDA maintains a laboratory especially for this purpose and color manufacturers must pay a fee to support this activity. FDA only approves colors after extensive review of all safety data and publication of the basis for its approval in the Federal Register.

You can find out more about FDA regulation of colors at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-col.html

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Henna http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr…

FDA comments on the use of Henna on skin. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-tatt.html

More information about the safety of hair dyes.

Although Henna is not specifically listed in the Cosmetic Directive of the European Union, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) reviewed Henna and concluded that a safe use level could not be identified.

Link to the SCCP Opinion on Henna: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_034.pdf

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/product_labelling_and_packaging/co0013_en.htm

You can learn more about the regulation and labeling of colors at: http://www.personalcarecouncil.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Consumer_Infor…

More Scientific Information

Hair dyeing formulations belong to three categories – temporary, semi-permanent and permanent coloring of hair. Temporary coloring preparations, often called color rinses, provide color which lasts until the first shampooing. Ingredients which impart temporary color may have a fairly high molecular weight and are unable to penetrate the hair shaft. These materials are simply deposited onto the hair fiber and are removed by subsequent shampooing. Semi-permanent coloring preparations generally provide color through several shampooings. These materials are often low molecular weight pre-formed dyes which can penetrate the hair shaft to some extent. Henna function as a hair colorant.