If a parent asked me if a henna party would be a good idea for their child, my answer would be "probably not." In this blog post, I'll answer why and give parents some good alternatives to traditional henna.
Safety and Health Issues
Henna - creating decorations on the skin with a paste made from the henna plant (lawsonia inermis) - has been used since the beginning of time and its safety record is unparalleled. In traditional cultures, it is often used on children, even infants, without incident.
In fact, the only people in the world who can never use henna are those with a genetic condition called G6PD deficiency. This is a relatively rare condition (read more about it here), but for those who have the condition, it is often undiagnosed until later in life. In addition, henna applied to newborns can cause them to develop hyperbilirubinemia, a very serious condition. (Read more here.)
Most henna artists (including myself) use essential oils in their pastes to boost staining power. The concentration of oils is low enough to not cause irritation in most people, but very young skin may be too tender to handle strong pastes.
For these reaons, my absolute minimum age for doing henna is 6 years old. However, there are also ...
Having henna done is a lot like getting your nails done: You have to sit still while the paste is being applied, and you have to sit still long enough for it to dry. And henna paste stains like the dickens! Even with just a few seconds of contact, it will stain clothes, carpet, car upholstery, the dog ...
Even if a child is old enough to have henna done safely, most of them just do not have the patience or self-awareness to be still and not smear their design. And that makes for upset kids and frustrated parents. :(
What is a good age for henna?
I recommend that kids be at least pre-teenage before venturing into henna. By that age, most girls want to experiment with makeup, nail polish and hairstyling and are willing to sit through "beauty treatments" to look pretty. As for boys, most of them don't want henna unless it's a masculine design (which I'm happy to oblige), but most boys don't care about spending significant time on their appearance until the late teens.
But ultimately, it's up to parents to decide if their child is ready to experience henna.
What are some simpler alternatives to henna?
While henna may not be the best choice for young children, most kids want to be a part of the body decorating fun! Great alternatives are face painting, glitter tattoos, airbrush tattoos and other quick-drying forms of temporary body art. At Blue Lotus Mehndi, we offer temporary tattoos done with quick-drying body paint as well as glitter in every color of the rainbow. These alternatives are popular with pre-teens and teens as well and can be combined with traditional henna services so that there is something for everyone.
So, when you're thinking about hiring body art services for your child or teenager, first think about whether your child is interested in primping or is more likely to want something quick so he or she can return to playing. Then, select the body art service that will give your kids the most enjoyment and you the fewest headaches! :)