Body Art Quality Henna
What is it and why is it important to you?

Pure henna with the highest natural dye content and perfect sift is used for body art.

"Body Art Quality" henna describes
  • Henna that has a very high natural dye content
  • Henna that is very finely cleaned, ground and sifted
  • Henna that is pure:  ONLY dried, powdered lawsonia inermis leaves
  • Body Art Quality henna is often referred to as BAQ henna
Ancient Sunrise henna

The best 10% of henna is reserved for body art.
 Henna for body art must have a higher dye content and finer sift, so artists can make fine patterns with deep long-lasting stains.  
  • Lawsone (the red-orange dye that naturally occurs in henna leaves) normally ranges from 0.3% to 3% or higher at harvest. The henna reserved for body art has the highest natural dye content.  Henna crops vary through the growing regions and vary from season to season.  Some years have excellent harvests of henna, and some years have poor harvests of henna.  "Freshness' is not an accurate predictor of whether henna has a high dye content:  if a crop is poor, the dye content may be low no matter how fresh the crop is!  If a crop is unusually good, the dye content may last for several years with good packaging: in ideal conditions, the lawsone content degrades very slowly.  If the packaging allows moisture, light or heat to damage the henna, a very good crop may quickly be worthless.  
    • The only way to be certain your henna has good dye content is purchase form an importer who sends the henna to an independent laboratory for HPLC lawsone testing! Mehandi .com does this!   
    • In my research doing testing for my PhD studies,  HPLC lawsone test results performed by an independent have been considerably lower than the exporters claims of henna lawsone content.  
  • The henna leaves with the highest dye content are carefully sorted: dirt, berries and twigs are removed.  This is labor-intensive, so body art quality henna costs more.
  • These clean, top quality leaves are milled and sifted several times.  Every time rough plant material is milled and sifted away, the higher the dye content is in the remaining powder.  Up to 80% of gross weight in rough material may be removed during this process. This makes body art quality henna far more effective at dyeing, but makes it more expensive than poorly sifted, lower dye content henna. 
  • This high quality henna with very fine sift is not only best for henna artistry, its best for hair!
  • This  body art quality (BAQ) henna is easy to mix and apply to your hair and easy to rinse because of the fine sift .
    • Henna that is suitable for body art is sifted to about 40 microns.  This is a little finer than silt, and a little larger then most pollen.  Henna that is too chunky for body art, or is difficult to wash out of hair is sifted to about 60 microns or more.  Sometimes henna is well sifted but larger bits slip through, even the occasional whole leaf. If you are using henna to cover gray hair, or for fine body art, choose the higher dye content henna, even if you need to do some extra sifting.
  • Body art quality henna (BAQ) will permanently dye your hair, especially your gray hair, a robust red to auburn tone.
    •  As long as you mix your henna with a mildly acidic liquid, preserving the hydrogens on the corners of the lawsone molecule, the color will bind to the keratin in your hair and will NOT fade!  In fact, it will darken gradually over time, through an oxidation process, so the length of your hair will always have a robust and natural color.
    • If you mix your henna with tap water, particularly boiling water, the dye molecule will lose its hydrogens, and not bind to the keratin.  This will make your hennaed hair color fade and go brassy over time.
  • Body art quality henna may have varying levels of pesticides, though henna, itself, is hardy and is largely pest-resistant. 
    • The most common contaminant of henna crops is pesticides blown in on the wind from nearby crop applications: this is particularly a problem when henna crops are downwind from cotton fields that may be treated by organophosphates.  
    • A claim of "Certified Organic" does not exclude the possibility that there is pesticide contamination. Pesticides blow in on the wind from other crops, remain in the soil from a previous crop, or wash down an irrigation ditch. A LUKE II pesticide assay can evidence contamination from a source other than the farmer.  . 
    • Only a LUKE II pesticide assay performed by an independent laboratory can evidence a range of pesticide levels down to single parts per million. has an independent laboratory perform a LUKE II pesticide assay on every shipment.
  • Body art quality henna has absolutely no adulterants: no added chemical dyes, no added metallic salts, no other ingredients that may harm your health or have damaging reactions with synthetic dyes. 
    • The only way to be certain that henna has no added chemicals or adulterants is to examine it under a microscope, or to send it to an independent laboratory for certification. examines every shipment to make sure that nothing is in the henna that shouldn't be there!
  • If you want to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN of henna quality, buy from a seller that sends their henna to a certified independent laboratory for testing. and all Ancient Sunrise products are independently tested for dye content, sift, contaminants, adulterants, and pesticides.

90% of henna is sold for use in hair dye and other industrial products.
  • This "hair dye" henna has a lower dye content (lawsone content at 1% or less), is not as finely sifted, cleaned and sorted as the henna reserved for body art. 
  • The lower quality hennas are usually mixed with other chemical and natural dyes to create a marketable product in a fashionable range of colors.  
  • When these lower quality hennas are mixed with additives for the hair dye market, they are referred to in the hair dye industry as "Compound Henna" because henna is compounded with other ingredients.  ;
    • Compound Henna describes:
      • A product for dyeing hair that may include metallic salts 
      • A product for dyeing hair that may include synthetic dyes, including para-phenylenediamine
      • A  ;product for dyeing hair that may include plants and dyes other than henna
      • A product for dyeing hair that may include little or no henna, and is composed of other ingredients
      • A product which is NOT pure henna
      • Learn more HERE Ancient Sunrise® Chapter 3: Compound Henna
  • These lesser quality products generally do not dye hair permanently; the henna color often fades or goes brassy, particularly on gray hair.
  • Some of additives in Compound Henna, particularly metallic salts, chemically react with with the activators in chemical hair dye. These additives in compound henna can cause damaging irreversible to your hair.
  • The additives in Compound Henna are frequently NOT LISTED on the hair dye package .
    • This is because the countries where henna is grown do not have the same labeling requirements as the FDA: they frequently have no declaration of ingredients at all.
    • When these products are exported into the USA, the importer is not required to discover the ingredients and relabel the package.
    • Because of this, you can buy a package of "henna hair dye" in the USA and not know what's in the package, nor what problems those unlisted additives may cause. 

the science of henna Ancient Sunrise® Chapter 4 Henna Science and Microscopy 

This chapter details the botany of henna, the phytochemistry of henna, and microscopy of henna in present and past production. Links to specific topics in this chapter:
compounds Ancient Sunrise® Chapter 3 Compound Henna

This chapter discusses the addition of metallic salts and oxidative dyes to henna, how these created conflicts with chemical hair dye, and well as confusion about what henna actually is.

Want to learn more?

American College of  Cosmetology, Standard Textbook of Cosmetology, Raritan, New Jersey, 1981

Amro, Bassam Izzidin (1989), Dyeing with Henna and Related Materials,  thesis for PhD at the University of Wales

Chand, K., Jangid, B. L., Roy , P. K., & Singh, Y. V. (2005) “Henna Marketing Processing and Trade in India”. Henna Cultivation, Improvement and Trade. Jodhpur, India:  Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Dalton, J., (
1976), The Professional Cosmetologist, West Publishing Company

Kenny, D,
(1980) Commercial premixed henna color treatments and conditioners, Cosmetics and Toiletries, 95 (6) 43

Khandelwal, S., Gupta, N., & Sahu, M. (2002). Effect of Plant Growth Regulators on Growth, Yield, and Essential Oil Production of Henna (Lawsonia Inermis). Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 77, 1: 67-72

Khem Chand, Jangid, B.L., Roy P. K., & Singh, Y.V. (2005). Henna Marketing, Processing and Trade in India. Henna Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 51-54.  Pali-Mawar, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Regional Research Station

Kumar S., Singh Y. V., & Singh, M. (2005). Agro-History, Uses, Ecology and Distribution of Henna (Lawsonia inermis L. syn. Alba Lam). Henna Cultivation, Improvement and Trade 11- 12. Jodhpur, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Narain, P., Singh, M., Roy, P.K., Khem Chand, Jangid, B. L., & Singh, Y.V., (2005).
Production, Trade and Future Prospect of Henna.  Jodhpur, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Ninety-Sixth Congress, First Session, (1979). Safety of Hair Dyes and Cosmetic Products, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Houser of Representatives, Serial Number 96 – 105. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office

Pratibha, G. & Korwar, G. R. (2005).  Scope of Henna in Semi-arid Tropics of Southern India. Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 8 – 10. Hydrabad, India: Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture

Rao, S. S., Regar, P. L., & Singh, Y. V. (2005) Agrotechniques for Henna (Lawsonia Inermis L.) Cultivation. Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 25 – 27.  Pali-Marwar, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Regional Research Station

Roy, P. K., Singh, M., & Tewari, P. (2005). Composition of Henna Powder, Quality Parameters and Changing Trends in its Usage.  Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 39 – 40.  Jodhpur, India, Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Singh, M.,  Jindal, S. K.,  Kavia, Z. D. ,  Jangid, B. L., & Khem Chand  (2005).
Traditional Methods of Cultivation and Processing of Henna. Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 21 – 14.  Jodhpur, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Singh, M., Jindal, S. K., &Singh, D. (2005).  Natural Variability, Propagation, Phenology and Reproductive Biology of Henna. Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 13 – 18.  Jodhpur, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Singh, M. P.,  & Lodha, S. (2005). Plant Protection in Henna and Henna for Pest and Disease Management Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 35 – 38. Jodhpur, India, Central Arid Zone Research Institute

Singh, Y. V.,  Regar, P. L.,  Rao, S. S.,  Jangid, B. L., & Khem Chand (2005). Potential of Planting Configuration and Water Harvesting in Improving the Production of Henna in Arid Fringes. Henna, Cultivation, Improvement and Trade: 28 – 30. Pali-Mawar, India: Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Regional Research Station

Sosted, H.; Johansen, J. D., Andersen, K., E., Menné, T. (2006).  Severe allergic hair dye reactions in 8 children.   Contact Dermatitis, Blackwell Publishing Limited, Vol. 54 Issue 2: 87-91

Spanoudi,  S. P, (
1983) Henna, its morphology, chemistry, and hair dyeing properties ,  M.Sc Theses, UWIST,

Wall, F.E.
(1972 )  Hair colorings, Bleaches, Dye removers, Chapter 23 in Cosmetic Science and Technology, 2nd Edition, Vol. 2, Wiley Interscience

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