Does Henna Hurt? Are Henna Tattoos Painful?

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Everybody knows that tattoos are painful to get. They involve getting jabbed with needles thousands of times… fun stuff! But what about henna?

Does Henna hurt? are Henna tattoos painful like regular tattoos?

Henna is painless to apply, it’s more like drawing on the skin than inserting ink under the skin. Used as a way to color the skin for an event or temporary tattoo, henna is the safer alternative to tattoos. 

Of course, unlike tattoos, they don’t last forever. That can be a bad thing or a good thing!

Let’s learn more about henna by looking at the following:

  • What it contains and allergy warnings 
  • What henna can be used for 
  • How to make your henna tattoo last

Please read on to find out a bit more and learn about the wonderful world of henna and tattoos. 


Henna: The 100% Safe and Painless Tattoo Option

Henna is a 100% natural paste made from the dried Henna or Lawsonia plant. Commonly used for tattoos for special events throughoutt South Asia, as an alternative to painful tattoos using needles, and as a beautiful (typically red) natural hair dye.

Henna is a natural ingredient (though often dodgy sellers advertise impure henna as pure, so be careful).

The following ingredients are mixed together to create the henna paste that is used for henna tattoos:

  • Dried Henna plant that is ground into a powder
  • Citrus such as lemon juice
  • Sugar
  • Essential oils (for a fine fragrance and comfort)

Essential oils are often added to henna to balance out the rather unappealing smell and for their soothing properties that enhance the henna tattoo process. Store-bought henna pastes might not always contain essential oils, so check the product packaging for a full list of ingredients. 

Essential oils are often added to henna for fragrance and for their soothing properties that enhance the henna tattoo process

Mixing the henna powder with a citrus juice like lemon creates a chemical reaction in which Lawsone dye is created. This chemical dye bonds with the proteins in your skin cells and causes the skin to darken.

Risks and Allergic Reactions to Note

While Henna is 100% natural, there is always a possibility of allergic reactions to be aware of. Considered safe for both children and adults, if you have extremely sensitive skin, you should go slowly with henna to ensure you don’t have a bad reaction.

Some should avoid getting henna tattoos or using products that contain henna. 

Henna tattoos are not recommended for people with the following conditions:

  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Certain immune system disorders
  • Certain blood disorders
  • A Glucose-6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency
  • Anemic patients or those who suffer from extreme anemia

Always read the product packaging for the full list of ingredients. Avoid using the product if you have experienced a rash or other allergic reactions to any of the ingredients listed. 

Henna products are a great alternative to permanent and painful tattoos but should only be bought from a reputable store that uses 100% natural, certified organic henna paste for their tattoos and hair dyes. 

Similarly, only have a henna tattoo done by a tattooist who uses natural henna products. 

Uses for Henna

Henna is a reddish-brown natural dye that is used for a wide variety of purposes. 

The most popular are:

  • For use in Henna tattoos
  • To color hair
  • As a dye to color the skin and nails for traditional purposes
  • As an alternative to make-up or nail polish

Henna is long-lasting, making it a great alternative to permanent dyes. But just how long does it last?

1. Hands

Henna used on the hands for traditional purposes or in a tattoo design will generally last for about one to two weeks, depending on your skin type and the products you use on your hands. 

2. Feet

Henna lasts extremely well on the feet and will generally only fade completely around the five-week mark. 

3. Skin and Nails

More modern make-up trends have seen women using Henna to color their lips and nails, making their color last a bit longer than it normally would if they used nail polish or lipstick.

When used as make-up, Henna can last up to a month, depending on your skin type. 

How to Apply Henna

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Henna can be purchased in ready-to-use cones. Simply cut off the end of the tube and apply. Applying henna can be tricky and requires a steady hand, much like when you ice a cake. 

Henna Tattoo Care Tips

If you’re considering getting a henna tattoo, there are a few things that you can do to prevent your tattoo from fading too quickly. 

  1. Always do a skin allergy test. If you are not sure of any allergies to the ingredients in henna, a skin allergy test is recommended prior to getting your tattoo. If you experience any reactions like a rash or burning, consult a doctor and discontinue use immediately. Also, take note of any allergies that you might have to essential oils that might have been added to the henna. 
  2. Book your henna tattoo appointment with a reputable salon, and ensure that they are using natural ingredients to create their henna. 
  3. Once you have had your henna tattoo done, do not immerse or soak the area in water for at least 24 hours. Similarly, avoid any sunblock, harsh soaps, and chemicals. These can cause a possible allergic reaction and will lighten the henna significantly. 
  4. Henna tattoos will take anywhere between three to six or seven hours to dry completely, depending on the type of henna used as well as the size of the design. Bare this in mind and try to factor this in when making your appointment. 
  5. Lightly cover the tattoo design with olive oil or vaseline to seal in the color. This results in a tattoo that will last slightly longer than normal and is deeper in color and tone. 

Remember that no two people will experience the same outcome, as they do not have the same skin type.

How long your henna tattoo will last, as well as the depth of the color, depends on your skin tone, environmental factors like the chemicals you use, and how often you use your hands.

It is not, as many people think, dependent on the color of your skin, and even those with dark skin can have a beautiful dark henna design!


Henna is a 100% natural, safe, and pain-free alternative to add a fun tattoo design to your skin. Safe for children and adults alike, henna is made using natural ingredients that are generally safe to use.

Always check the product packaging to see the full list of ingredients, and avoid using it if you are allergic to or experience an adverse reaction to any of the ingredients. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).