How to remove henna: 7 easy methods

Allergies & Asthma
Henna is a paste that people can use to create a decorative, temporary tattoo. A henna tattoo will usually fade in a few weeks to months, but several effective methods can remove henna faster.

Henna dyes the outermost skin layer, much like self-tanner. Many different exfoliating and cleansing methods may remove henna from the skin.

Quick and easy ways to remove henna include:

1. Soap and warm water

Henna on the hand being removed with soap and water
Soap and warm water can help remove henna.

Wiping a henna tattoo with gentle soap and warm water can help lift away some of the tattoo’s pigments.

A person can apply soap to the affected area and scrub it with their hand or a soft sponge before rinsing the skin with warm water.

Repeating this method several times a day can help remove the tattoo. A person may wish to apply a moisturizing lotion afterward to protect the skin from dryness.


2. Baby oil

Baby oil can help dissolve henna pigments and remove the tattoo.

One method is to add about three capfuls of baby oil to a warm bath. After soaking in the bath for 20 minutes, a person can rinse the baby oil away.

People can also use a cotton ball or cloth to apply baby oil directly to the tattoo and rinse it away after 10 to 20 minutes.

Baby oil is available for purchase in drug stores and online.


3. Lemon juice

Lemons contain natural skin-lightening and stain-removing properties that can help remove a henna tattoo.

To use lemon juice to remove a henna tattoo, follow these steps:

  • Cut a lemon in half or quarters.
  • Rub the lemon on the skin gently for about 2–3 minutes.
  • Rinse the lemon juice from the skin with warm water.
  • Pat the skin dry and apply moisturizer to prevent skin dryness.

People with sensitive skin should take care when using this method because the acidic properties of the lemon juice may cause it to irritate their skin.


4. Exfoliating scrubs

Henna only dyes the top layers of the skin, so using exfoliating scrubs may help remove it faster.

Soak the tattooed part of the body in warm water first, then use a loofah to gently rub the affected area, peeling away any dead skin.

People can also purchase an exfoliating body scrub at most drugstores and online.

5. Shaving

If the tattoo is on one of the arms or legs, shaving the area of skin is another way to remove the henna. Removing the hair in this area can help exfoliate the skin and lighten the tattoo.

Using shaving cream and a clean razor, gently shave the skin to lighten the henna.

Applying a moisturizer after shaving can help minimize razor burn and skin irritation.


6. Baking soda

baking soda
People can use baking soda as an exfoliator.

Baking soda can be an excellent exfoliator, and it also removes stains. A person can mix lemon juice and baking soda into a paste that can lighten henna.

To use this method, squeeze the juice from a whole lemon and mix it with enough baking soda to form a thick paste.

Apply the paste to the henna and leave it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing it away with warm water.

A person can reapply this paste once a day, but it is important to moisturize afterward to prevent skin dryness and irritation.

7. Micellar water

Micellar water is cleansing water that contains special particles called micelles. Micelles gently cleanse the skin and break down oil, makeup, and other pigments.

Many drugstores sell micellar water, and it is also available for purchase online.

To use this method, apply the micellar water to the henna with a cloth and gently rub it over the area.


Safety

Henna can cause allergic reactions in some individuals who are sensitive to potential additives.

These additives can include vinegar, olive oil, coal, clove, and small amounts of heavy metals, such as nickel. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the reported side effects of henna tattoos include:

  • blisters
  • sensitivity to the sun
  • pigmentation loss
  • redness
  • fluid coming from lesions on the skin, called weeping

Some people have also reported permanent scarring from henna tattoos. This irritation may occur immediately or up to 3 weeks after application.

Patch tests, which involve a person dabbing a small amount of henna on the skin and waiting 24 hours before applying a full design, may not always indicate the possibility of a delayed reaction.

It is also important to note that some places use “black henna,” which contains a compound of coal-tar hair dye called p-phenylenediamine (PPD). Doctors have recognized that this additive may contribute to skin reactions in some individuals.

Although the FDA do not permit manufacturers to add PPD to henna for skin tattoo applications, some shops and practitioners continue to use it. Therefore, consumers should be wary of black henna temporary tattoo applications.


Summary

Although nothing can get rid of henna instantly, many cleansing and exfoliating methods can help remove the henna tattoo faster.

People who need to conceal the tattoo quickly can apply full-coverage makeup or self-tanner.

If a person experiences a skin reaction from henna, they should clean the area with soap and water and keep it clean and dry. It is best to seek medical attention if the area becomes inflamed and painful.

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