How to remove henna tattoo

Henna tattoos are beautiful. A lot of people, men and women, like to use henna for body art. It’s temporary, so you don’t have to be scared that at some point you may no longer like the art. The tattoo lasts for about a week until it starts fading, and that’s when people usually want to have it removed completely.

First of all, you don’t have to worry about whether residues of henna will cause irritation. Normally, the paint doesn’t cause skin allergies or itchiness. Most people opt to have it removed for aesthetic reasons. You can remove black henna in different ways.

  1. Scrub it. This is straightforward. You can do it while taking a bath using a cloth, sponge, or loofah. In some cases, rubbing the area removes most, if not all, of the ink. Just scrub gently. There’s no need to use excessive amount of force only to irritate your skin.
  1. Use oil. Apply baby oil or olive oil on the inked skin surfaces and let it soak for a minute or two. The oil makes it easy to get rid of the ink. You can actually try spreading oil on the inked areas before scrubbing. Some people use washcloth to rub on the tattooed skin. If you do that, you will notice the tattoo flaking or becoming clumpy. Then it will start peeling off.
  1. Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove henna. If you’re using alcohol, pour it on a towel or daub a cotton ball in it. Rub it on the skin. For hydrogen peroxide, the procedure is almost the same. You can use cotton balls. Rub on inked surfaces until the traces are gone.
  1. Exfoliation is another trick that works quite conveniently. You can use an exfoliating product that doesn’t irritate your skin. Do a patch test if you’re not accustomed to exfoliants. Again, the procedure is just as easy and straightforward as the previous ones. Use a cotton ball and rub into the tattoo.
  1. Bleaching is a more aggressive way of removing black henna on the skin. Bleaches are more likely to irritate your skin than other tattoo or ink removal chemicals. Doing a patch test is almost always recommended beforehand. You will have to apply bleach on the tattoo. Once dry, rinse the area thoroughly. Immerse the area in cold water.
  1. You may want to go natural by simply using salt and water, and you can do this with a gauze pad. Dip the gauze pad in brine. Put the wet gauze pad on tattooed area. Leave it there for about 20 minutes. After that, rinse the area. Do this three times a day. Saltwater hastens the removal of henna tattoo.
  1. Vinegar and baking soda also does the trick. You can use lemon juice instead of vinegar if you don’t like the sour smell of vinegar. You’re going to mix just in right amounts to make a paste. Apply the paste over the areas with tattoo. Wait for 10 minutes or until the paste dries. Use a washcloth or loofah to scrub off henna. You may have to repeat the process to remove all the ink completely.
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Facts about henna tattoos

First, here is some information to give you a general idea of henna and henna art.Origin. Henna is a natural brown dye produced from the henna plant leaves.History. The art of making henna tattoos, called mehndi, dates back to the times of ancient Egypt – around 3,000 B.C. and is still popular in many cultures and countries, India in particular.Use. Two main areas of henna application are drawing tattoos and dyeing hair (this use is actually recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).Application methods. Henna paste can be applied to the skin using bare fingers or a special stencil.How long it stays on the skin. Henna becomes dark after two days and naturally grows increasingly lighter until it finally vanishes in two weeks on average. If the person with a tattoo avoids exposing it to water, henna artists say, the fading period may last up to six weeks.How it penetrates the skin. When henna is applied to the skin, it gets into its top layer and stays there.

henna tattoos

Getting rid of henna tattoos with household items

Now, you know that your henna tattoo will disappear by itself in a couple of weeks, but you suddenly want another design on the same part of your body and don’t wish to wait. While instantly removing henna tattoos is not possible, you can still get rid of them fairly quickly using simple things you should have in your house or apartment.


The first method is to put some body scrub on a loofah/washcloth every time you are in the bathroom in the morning and gently rub the place with the tattoo. This is not the quickest way, but it will eventually make every bit of henna ink disappear from your skin.

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Hydrogen peroxide

  • Pour some hydrogen peroxide on a piece of medical cotton.
  • Move the cotton over the tattoo in circular movements. Don’t press too hard. Soon, you will notice that the ink has started to look paler.
  • Continue rubbing. The tattoo should disappear completely after some time.

Note that although peroxide contains no toxic substances, it may still cause an allergy with some people. So, put a peroxide-soaked cotton on the back of a hand first to make sure you’re not allergic.

Lemon juice plus baking soda

  • Make a paste-like mixture of lemon juice and baking soda in a cup or another container.
  • Put a spoonful of the paste on the henna design and wait for around half an hour.
  • Take a washcloth and rub it against the tattoo until the paste is gone.

The lemon juice in combination with baking soda reduces the level of moisture in the skin. The skin that is not moist loses its layers more easily and quickly.


Salt and olive oil/baby oil

  • Make a mixture of olive/baby oil and any kind of salt (equal amounts)
  • Take a piece of medical cotton and dip it into the mixture
  • Put the cotton on the tattoo and wait for around a quarter of an hour
  • Dip the cotton into the mixture again
  • Move the cotton over the tattoo in circular movements
  • Wash the tattoo with warm water and soap

Soap with antibacterial properties

There’s probably no simpler way to remove henna tattoos than this one. Just purchase a bar of soap that kills bacteria and wash the place with the tattoo with this soap every fifteen minutes throughout the day.

Soaking the tattoo (hand or foot) in salt water

  • Pour warm water into a bowl or tub
  • Put bath salt into the water – around one fourth of a cup
  • Soak the hand or foot with the tattoo in the water for around 25 minutes. While a part of your body is in the water, rub the tattoo with a washcloth in gentle circular movements.


However surprising it may sound, some experts also recommend removing henna tattoos with an ordinary toothpaste.

  • Squeeze some toothpaste on the tattoo
  • Wait until the paste gets dry
  • Rub the tattoo gently with a washcloth
  • Wash the tattoo with warm water


You can use one of the simple methods described above or their combination. If the tattoo is still visible on your body, consider masking it.

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How is natural henna made?

Henna for body decorations is made by drying the leaves of a henna plant and crushing them into a fine powder. Water and a little oil is then added to make it into a paste. The paste is applied to the body and it stains the top layer of the skin. The average person will have their temporary tattoo for one to three weeks, or sometimes up to a month.

henna powder

Image credit: Khadija Dawn Carryl via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The side effects and symptoms of bad henna tattoos

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to henna include:

  • Itching
  • Blistering
  • Burning sensation
  • Pulsing sensation
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Increased sensitivity.

The reaction to a henna tattoo can manifest itself 7-14 days after exposure, although some people experience symptoms straight away.

blistered henna tattoo on arm

Image credit: Wellcome Images via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

The shocking state of black henna in the UK

In a survey conducted by The British Skin Foundation of 244 dermatologists, it was found that 4 out of 10 dermatologists had seen patients with skin reactions to black henna tattoos and shockingly, 40% of dermatologists seen henna tattoo skin reaction stat27 per cent of the black henna tattoos they had seen on patients were done in the UK, despite paraphenylenediamine being banned for body decorations.

In a statement regarding the study, Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson said: “‘Black henna’ is well known to cause skin reactions and should be treated with caution, particularly in children.”

Festival goers have also been warned to avoid black henna temporary tattoos. Those heading to festivals in the Coventry and Warwickshire region have been warned by The British Skin Foundation not to have black henna tattoos drawn on them due to the dangers associated with them. This advice can be applied to any festival however and The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association have also issued a similar warning:

henna tattoo on hand at festival

Image credit: seniwati via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

“The message is clear: having a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty adverse reaction to the tattoo itself. It also increases the risk of either not being able to use most hair dyes in the future or having a bad reaction to them if the warnings are ignored. Most importantly, parents will want to safeguard their children this summer by steering clear of so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos.”

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