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[personal profile] stellar_muddle
So should I be cranky or not?

Observed a particular LJ conversation on henna. Was going to answer, then decided to actually check the ingredients list cause the current supplier is actually good like that.
Hmph. Not what I thought.

Standard henna is ground up bits of the plant "Lawsonia inermis".
The listed ingredients for the "Egyptian Red Henna" were:
cassia obovata (ie neutral "henna" (part way down) which is not actually a henna at all, but is used for conditioning like a henna and doesn't really have much dye)
This last took a bit of tracing but appears to be the german for Sodium Picramate (via the german Wikipedia Henna entry). It is a dye which stains organics a deep yellow brown and is used at low levels in some cosmetics (link to toxicity report). It is also a chemical precursor to Picric acid (picramate is a di-nitrophenol, picric acid is a tri-nitrophenol) and both exhibit well know staining of organic materials yellow.

This may or may not be cut into actual Lawsonia henna - don't know.

So a few questions:

Is the Piko's deep red egyptian henna the same? Pikos doesn't list its ingredients. It behaves the same and we suspect they are actually supplied by the same source into NZ. Also both give far better colour (I have posted whinging about this) than when I have used standard henna either from the same sources or from other suppliers. So have I been using the same stuff when I have thought I have been using the same stuff?

Does the listed 4% apply to the cassia obovata or the picramat? Note the above listed link to the toxicity report which was testing at a maximum of 2.5% of aqueous solution, so no idea if still safe at that level - apart from if Pikos is the same, there have been no ill effects over the past 5 years.

Should I care given it is a really good dark red colour and my hair seems healthy? It would just be another chemical dye, just not the one I thought it was. The standard henna doesn't work nearly so well, so shifting to it would weaken the colour at the roots and just look naff (though might be survivable) - possibly about as naff as letting it grow out (for reference for those who don't know/remember, the original colour is the same shade of brown as [ profile] alpha_angel - not a bad shade of brown, just would stand out with the red). In which case, would need to cut it all off. And I do rather like the current colour and the length (currently thigh...). Prevents me from completely blending into the wallpaper.

But there is the principle of having used something and then finding out it isn't what you through it was. Since if I had know that it wasn't actually henna in the first place (assuming Pikos is the same as the Commonsense Organics stuff (yay to them for at least labeling), I might not have tried it in the first place. Z keeps giggling over the explosives connection and wants to do more research / find out if the suppliers know what they are selling, but given all the other stuff that needs to get done in the next few days...


And of course grumping about this (and googling with some assistance from Z) has distracted me from doing constructive stuff like banners (which I have been bad and procrastinated much today, though in my defence some of the procrastination was lunch with Mum, Dad and Kerry (Happy Father's Day, Dad) and helping dismember 2 half pigs and fit them in the freezer. But much of the evening was Dr Who and procrastination...)

Time to stop grumping and get some sleep.

Date: 2008-09-07 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would suggest writing to Piko and explaining what you've just laid out here, and ask them if they can investigate. I'm assuming their henna comes in bulk lots which they then divide up? The original packaging may have an ingredients list.

Date: 2008-09-08 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Z has sent a bunch of emails and been in contact with one of the shops. A little scary to note that apparently they had had difficulty getting hold of information we got with an hour on the internet... Ok, so a slightly higher scientific literacy starting point, but still, google and wikipedia...

Date: 2008-09-08 12:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Actually, poking about the net, it seems that picramic acid compounds, sodium picramate included, are more sensitive explosives than picric acid itself, if not as brisant, and very reactive - so the old 'using alkaline salon hair dye on hennaed hair will melt the hair' thing, which does happen to greater and lesser degrees, may be due to the well known exothermic decomposition reaction between picramates and basic compounds, rather than the henna. Particularly if this stuff is just powdered italian senna (called 'neutral henna' but actually of almost no dye ability at all) with 4% sodium picrate in it to do most of the colouring, so the bulk of the actual red/orange stain on the hair will be picramate.


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