Henna on Black Skin: Does Henna Work on Dark Skin?

Henna on hands of bride from India
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There is no denying that henna looks fantastic, perhaps one of the main reasons why it’s expanded beyond Indian and the Middle East, and now people all over the world use it to show their beauty with creative designs.

However, for people with dark skin tones, there is a concern over whether the henna will be visible. If it’s not, what’s the point?

Can you do henna on black skin?

You can absolutely do henna on black skin, and it can look beautiful. Henna is more subtle on dark skin than it might be on a light skin tone, but that subtlety can work in your favor!

  • Hennas color is the same regardless of the user’s skin tone
  • Bolder patterns will give you an excellent “tone on tone” look
  • The mixing and application are the same

Here we look at what you need to know about using henna on dark skin.


Henna on Black Skin

Good quality henna, especially one rich in dye content, is always perfect for a deep rich tone. Henna originated in South Asia and the Middle East, where there are millions of people with dark skin tones.

It would be fair to say that henna has been used on at least medium-dark skin tones for ages.

You might worry that your favorite henna will not work on your dark skin tone, but henna does not discriminate. Everyone can use it.

The following are some of the ways you can use henna on dark skin tones. For the individual who is applying the henna:

Good quality henna, especially one rich in dye content, is always perfect for a deep rich tone.

  • Use rich henna that has high-quality ingredients.
  • Apply sugar and lemon juice after the henna dries. Do this by dabbing or spraying.
  • Please wait until it dries, then use Hypafix tape  to wrap it. If you don’t have Hypafix, use 2-3 layers of Sugar-lemon sealant.
  • For the best results, leave it overnight. however, if you don’t have the time, you can also leave it for 3-4 hours.
  • Scrape off the paste or use oil to remove it
  • For the next 24 hours, don’t let it get exposed to water. Avoid showering or bathing.
  • Moisturize your henna with cosmetic kinds of butter or oils
  • If you want your henna to last long, consider having an efficient after-care routine.  

Is Henna Safe?

Occasionally, there have been reports of henna causing severe allergic conditions. It has led to many questioning the quality and how natural henna is.

However, this should not mean that you dismiss henna altogether.

There are two types of henna, even though they look somewhat identical despite their different characteristics. These are black and brown henna.

The Two Types of Henna

Black henna and natural henna are both very common. The pastes were popularly known and used for temporary patterns on the skin. In 2003 however, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against using black henna because they received numerous complaints about its effects on the skin.   

Black henna and natural henna are both very common. The pastes were popularly known and used for temporary patterns on the skin.

1. Black Henna

Black Henna on Leg

Black henna contains paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical ingredient that distinguishes it from natural henna. It is used for two primary purposes: to give you dark and rich colors and to further its lifespan. 

It’s not really henna, it’s basically just a long-lasting ink, but it works in a similar way.

PPD is also popularly used in hair products but is under strict consideration. When used directly on the skin, however, it can result in serious problems. Some of these problems include Itching, blistering, burning, and scarring.

2. Brown Henna

Brown Henna Cone

Brown henna is also referred to as pure henna or natural henna. It is the opposite of what black henna is. Brown henna is made from the leaves of the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis.

The process involves crushing the leaves and mixing them with a liquid, which can be coffee or water, to form a paste. You can then apply it to the skin. It is often sold in pre-mixed cones for easy application, as shown above.

The process does not involve adding value-added preservatives to increase consistency and length of lifespan, which is why it has earned the tag “pure henna”. Keep in mind that this stuff will expire.

It is also important to note that just because it is referred to as brown henna, it does not necessarily have a lighter tone.

Certain liquids and herbs can help increase their color consistency.

How Can You Differentiate Authentic Henna From Fake Henna 

When purchasing henna, the last thing you want is to be duped into buying fake henna. To avoid that, let us look at how you can distinguish between real and fake henna. Do not just believe the seller’s word when they say the henna they sell is legit.

The following are some of the tells:

1. The smell is suspicious 

The smell is one of the most obvious ways to tell if henna is fake or to identify it as either black or brown. Henna that contains chemical ingredients can have a paraffin-type smell even though black henna is sometimes odorless.

Pure henna or brown henna, on the other hand, is made from natural ingredients and has a more earth-like smell.

So when you have a pack of brown henna in your hands, the first thing you will notice is the natural, earthy smell.

2. How long does it last?

The longer legit henna stays on your skin, the brighter your color tone results. For black henna, most artists recommend from 30 minutes to 1 hour. If the henna shop you get your designs from claims to do it just under or at 30 minutes and say it will give you brighter results, you should inquire about the ingredients.

3. What are the ingredients? 

Many people are not keen on ingredients when purchasing henna, yet one of the best ways to check for authenticity is to look at the ingredients used to make it. For example, consider getting the henna with earth-derived leaves from Lawsonia inermis.

4. Note the staining

Legit henna derived from the henna plant should have one color, which is reddish-brown. The stain should last for around 4-6 days. You should also note that black henna has a darker reddish color.

5. Patch testing

To effectively know the quality of the henna, we recommend doing a patch test. First, apply a small amount of henna to your skin and let it rest for about 20 minutes. It is not entirely legit if you sense any sensitivity or burning sensation.


Henna works beautifully on all skin tones. True, henna designs will be more subtle on darker skin. But that allows for even more adventurous designs.

Like many needle-and-pain tattoos, the results can look amazing on all skin tones.

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).