3 Sep 2012

My Experience: Henna Tattoos

So I went to Turkey a couple of weeks ago and I noticed on pretty much every market we went to, there were at least a few stalls selling henna tattoos and I really wanted to get one. I'm not a fan of real tattoos purely because I know I'll get bored of whatever it is really quickly so a henna one sounded like a good plan for me. On my last night in turkey, I got one in the shape of a sun on my left forearm and I loved it! That night I slept with a hoodie (and lots of air conditioning!) on so I wouldn't stain the white sheets if any of the ink rubbed off and in the morning the crust had come away leaving just the ink and still it looked great. The tattoo itself lasted a really long time, to the point where I was even starting to worry that it wouldn't come off in time for school but don't worry, it has. Still, I'd say it lasted a good two weeks before I scrubbed the remaining bits off with a loofa in the shower. Now you may be thinking Megan, why do a whole long blog post about something if it was that amazing? Were you really THAT impressed?
Well, dear reader, it's not the tattoo itself that I'm going to talk to you about. It's the reaction it caused on my arm.
As the ink started to fade away from my arm in the past few weeks, I noticed that the part where the tattoo itself had been was raised slightly from my arm but as this was my first experience with henna I just thought that might be because the ink was so thick it caused the tattoo to rise slightly. Nope.
Turns out that something in the henna had given me an allergic reaction which caused the skin of my arm where the henna had been, and only the henna, to swell up, turn red and be really itchy. Even now, about 4 days after the henna has completely left my skin, it's still red although not as bright and very irritated. Not fun! Also, where the skin is so sensitive, if I've even scratched it once, it breaks the skin and will probably leave me with some form of a scar.
After talking to a few people about it, they've all said that often if you're allergic to henna, you're also allergic to hair dye - but I'm not. I've had my hair highlighted multiple times and never has it caused me any kind of irritations so I really don't know!
As much as I loved the henna while I had the ink on my skin and as much as I still love the design that's left on my skin in the rash (it's perfectly formed in the shape of the sun I had on originally!) I just really regret getting it as it's caused so much unnecessary anguish. All for 15 Lira.
Note: The larger picture is the rash today, the first picture in the trio is from the night I got the henna done, the second two weeks later as it started to peel and the rash was revealed and the last was the night I scrubbed the last bits of ink off.