I actually use to use this term, even though I didn't like it, Saying "henna is like a temporary tattoo," is easier than saying, "henna dye also know as Lawsone, actually stains the skin cells permanently and then creates the illusion that its fading away as dead skin cells are washed away with bacteria over time."
Let's talk about skin for a second; more specifically the first layer or Epidermis.
There are about seven layers of the epidermis- as shown in the above image. Before we move forward I wanted to share the 3 main layers of skin:
-The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin that creates a water proof barrier and skin tone;
-The dermis is where all the hair follicles, sweat glands, tough connective tissue are;
-The hypodermis; where fat and other connective tissue;
Now I'm not a dermatologist and is this information I presented above can be found with a simple google search. Tattoo ink is typically into the dermis layer of skin making it "permanent" because cell turn over doesn't affect the design as its injected into the area where there cell turnover happens differently and the your tattoo can fade but it can't fade completely.
Henna on the other hand is applied to the skin and the dye seeps into the skin slowly. Which is why most artists advise the longer the paste is left on the better. It gives the dye in the paste more time to seep deeper and nourishing that first layer of the epidermis - stratum coreneum.
The reason why I mentioned that henna is permanent is because henna stains that whole cell permanently as time goes on, and newer cells push older and dead cells up to be washed away the lighter stained cells are pushed up as well and eventually henna stained cells are no longer there.
This creates a temporary tattoo like illusion that the design is fading away. Which is probably why henna artists started using this terminology in the first place, but I think it's time we lay this term to rest. The meaning of the term "Henna Tattoo" literally translates to henna being injected in to the skin- and that is definitely not what henna is.
Now there is nothing wrong with tattoos, thats not the point I'm making. Henna and Tattoos are two different things and we need to stop using tattoo to define henna.
Henna is comes from a plant in which the leaves are cultivated dried and then ground into a powder. That is then combined with sugar, water, essentials oils into a paste and that then strained and coned and then applied on the skin and is left for the dye to seep into the skin staining the skin cells that is washed away over time creating the illusion that it is fading away.
I think the henna industry should educate should educate their clients on what henna is instead of just labeling it a tattoo. Share this with all of your henna loving friends and artists to help spread henna education and stop henna misinformation.
If you have any further questions please leave them in the comments below or email me. Also I found both of these images with on google and tried to credit the webpage they were linked to. :)