Benefits of using henna and the side effects of adulterated mehendi

Karwa Chauth is one such festival when women get their palms and feet beautifully decorated with intricate mehendi designs. But is it safe on your skin?

Think Karwa Chauth, and you immediately think of mehendi-decorated hands and dressed up women, don’t you? Women observe a day-long fast with much fervour on the festival, which falls on October 24 this year. Preps are in full swing and most ladies are heading out to get their hands and/or feet done up in mehendi. Mehndi surely looks exceptionally beautiful, but sooner or later it begins to fade, making your skin rough and dry.

Many women complain of itching, redness, and peeling off of the skin along with the henna from the hands. The ideal way that henna comes off is that the color gradually fades over days, even weeks. However, the markets are full of people using adulterated henna, which can have certain reactions and side effects.

Karwa Chauth 2021
Applying mehndi during Karwa Chauth is of great cultural significance. Image courtesy: YouTube/YRF Films

Dr Rinky Kapoor, consultant dermatologist, cosmetic dermatologist, and dermato-durgeon, The Aesthetic Clinics, Delhi warns that some people can have allergies to Mehndi.

She says, “Avoid using chemical mehndi that contains ammonia and PPD chemicals and it will only damage the skin and hair. Henna is safe to use if you buy 100% natural henna. Check the manufacturing date on the pack, the fresher it is the better is the vibrance of colours. Chemical-ridden mehndi fades quickly, and may cause allergic reactions to skin and hair.”

Although most varieties of henna are perfectly safe and non-toxic, black henna does have some allergenic potential such as skin rashes and internal discomfort. So make sure to use natural mehndi and always perform a patch test before applying it on your hands.

Besides the negative side of the henna, there is also a positive side of it, only if you use pure henna.

“Nature has provided us with many ways to keep the skin and hair healthy and natural henna is one of them. It is such a wonderful and natural product. It smells heavenly and has no chemicals. In fact, it soothes the skin and softens the hands,” says Dr Kapoor.

Also, read: Make note of these 5 safe foods and drinks to open your Karwa Chauth fast with

Pure mehendi is also said to have a cooling effect on the body and it prevents heat and inflammation. Among the multitude of good that natural henna does, some of the benefits include:

  • Natural henna has traditional medicine uses that can soothe burns and eczema
  • Fresh leaves may be used as a topical antiseptic for fungal and bacterial skin infections including ringworm
  • Besides the skin benefits, Dr Kapoor says, it helps knock out dry scalp, dandruff, and lice from the hair because it is antifungal and antimicrobial that cools the scalp
  • The cooling effect of the henna on the nerves can reduce inflammation
  • The antifungal and antiseptic properties can prevent fungal and bacterial skin infections
  • Moreover, it can speed up the healing process
Karwa Chauth 2021,
Take care of your skin and use only pure henna. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You can also prepare henna at home to avoid any side effects. Here’s the recipe for it.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup high-quality henna powder
  • 1¼ to 1½ cups lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar (optional)
  • 1 ounce lavender or tea tree essential oil
Method:
  • Place a chiffon cloth over a bowl, then pour your henna powder into it. Lift the cloth up and gently scrape the henna against the cloth.
  • Discard the henna left in the cloth, then repeat the process 2 more times with the henna left in the bowl.
  • Now add the sugar. (You don’t have to add sugar at all but it will help it stay wet longer as well as adhere better to the skin).
  • Add lemon juice and stir the mixture well.
  • Finally, add lavender or tea tree oil. Mix it until the texture turns consistent.
  • Now cover the henna paste bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let it sit for 4-5 hours and then it’s ready to use.

You can also add more lemon juice and honey to it to make the paste smooth.

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