I think we forget that the FDA approvals, regulations, and such are done by humans. I know many of maybe concerned that henna is not approved by the FDA, but you can't test commercial henna powder for hair on skin.
In 2002, there was an evaluation done by the SCCP aka Scientific Committee for Consumer Products that deemed henna as "mutagenic" which means that it was an agent such as radiation or chemical substance that could cause a genetic mutation.
Yeah, but there's more: later three people from the FDA, Margaret E. K. Kraeling, Robert L. Bronaugh (both from the Office of Cosmetics, and Colors, US Food and Drug Administration) and Connie T. Jung (Office of the Commissioner, Office of Policy, US Food and Drug Administration) did another evaluation of the Lawsone Content in Henna in 2007. In the introduction, it states that henna has only been approved for coloring hair by the FDA and that too only with limitations and then it states that henna is not approved as a body paint and tattoo dye.
Henna is neither a body paint, nor a tattoo dye- there is dye that is extracted from the henna leaf during the dye release process when it's mixed with an acidic liquid like coffee, tea, lemon juice, even water which is called Lawsone, but it is by no means a tattoo dye.
From what I read, they tested said Lawsone from commercially available hair coloring powders containing henna and Lawsone and used it on skin.
They go on to say that they tested 3 products but the never disclose which products. I understand that knowing product information while testing something could lead to bias, BUT it's wrong to deem all henna as the same. The three products tested were henna powders for hair, not skin - there's a huge difference in these powders
Henna for hair typically contains other twigs and bits because it is not going to be used for fine lining. Hair henna can contain different dyes to create a more browner or blacker look. There is some Lawsone present in henna hair powder.
Henna powder for skin has to be super fine. Most henna artist look for triple sifted 100% organic henna powder. Henna has to be mixed with something acidic and then left out for Lawsone content to seep out aka dye release and then applied to the skin.
Henna is a perishable item, and like all perishable items there is a window when a said product is good. FDA of all organizations should understand that. They should have tested Lawsone from the leaf or the organic powder form of henna. In the event, that they did test henna paste - they tested commercial henna, which can is almost a sure shot that the paste has chemicals in it or has expired, and if that was the case then this evaluation is valid only for the purposes of commercial henna, which should be illegal to sell as it is because its mass produced most likely hasn't been preserved properly
In fact, the FDA should release guideline on commercial henna and regulate henna by incorporating at least the following guidelines:
Requiring commercial henna production companies to put expiration dates and and ingredient list on the cone
Requiring only the use of organic henna powder from a recent henna crop no more than two years old
Requiring that organic henna powder be kept in a cool, dark place or kept in the freezer (henna powder that is stored properly can be good for up to two years in a freezer)
Requiring that all henna cones be kept frozen. Henna paste can last up to six months to one year in a freezer
Requiring that henna that is kept in the fridge from the fill date for up coming use is kept there for no more than three to five days (again requiring the fill date of henna)
Requiring the use of natural and organic products for henna artists when making fresh henna paste
Requiring use of 100% pure Essential Oils
I know I'm not a scientist, but I've worked with henna for a long time. Henna has been used for thousands of years not only for adornment, but to treat burns, and fevers as well. I've invested a lot of hours in henna education and I'm calling out the FDA because they concluded henna as harmful when the wrong products were tested for the wrong reason- not to bash them. I know that this test was conducted in 2007, and I knew that the FDA had approved henna with limitations for hair but I didn't know that they tested henna for skin and didn't approve it until I read this study.. Anyway, I heard that the FDA is working to get this retested, but it's a slow moving process and I posted the link to the study below for your reference. I hope this time the FDA tests Lawsone in its most natural form, before deeming it as either mutagenic, body paint, or tattoo ink.
If you agree that henna should be retested, and regulations should be implemented for producing commercial henna please share this with everyone you know so that this blog can move up the chain to the FDA and the process will be expedited to testing organic henna that is actually meant to be used on the skin.