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Are you regretting that matching henna tattoo you and your bestie got that’s faded into a blob? No need to scrub your skin off. It’s possible to quickly remove henna with items you probably have at home.
Why is this temporary tattoo so effing hard to get rid of? Henna is made from the leaves of a flowering shrub (Lawsonia inermis) — aka the henna tree — that is ground up into a paste. The dye in the leaves is what stains your skin (similar to those pesky turmeric or beet stains).
This ancient art of temporary tattooing, mehndi, can last up to 2 weeks on your skin. Henna can also be used as a natural way to dye your hair.
No matter where you have henna, once it fades, you’ll want to remove it quickly. Here’s how you can get rid of that henna dye for good.
Note: Many of these methods can be drying or irritate the skin. Stop if your skin starts to get sore or irritated.
1. Salt water soak
Why not enjoy some self-care by taking a warm bath while removing your henna? The sodium chloride in salt helps nourish the skin cells and removes the dead ones.
Add 1/2 cup of sea salt or Epsom salt to a half-full tub of water and soak for 20 minutes.
2. Coconut oil sugar scrub
We’re pretty sure coconut oil is a godsend. It can be used for cooking, baking, lip balm, body moisturizer — you name it. Add some sugar, and it can help remove your henna tattoo.
Rub some melted or room temperature coconut oil onto the tattoo, letting it soak in. Next, apply a layer of raw cane sugar on top then gently scrub with a washcloth or loofah.
3. Olive oil and salt
Skip the bread dipping because this oil is for your skin. Mixing sea salt and oil can fade and exfoliate the skin.
Take 1 cup of olive oil and 3 to 4 tablespoons of sea salt. Apply to the skin and let the mixture soak in for at least 10 minutes. Remove with a warm cloth.
4. Lemon juice
Lemons can naturally lighten the skin as well as stains (goodbye annoying henna!). Cut a lemon into slices, rub onto the tattooed area for 2 to 3 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. Pat dry and moisturize.
5. Baking soda and lemon juice
Mixing baking soda and lemon juice will create a chemical reaction that can also lighten and eventually remove henna.
Mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice and apply to the tattoo (try 1 tablespoon of each to start), leaving on for 10 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Repeat this once a day and moisturize until henna is removed.
6. Baby oil
Baby oil (aka mineral oil) is an easy way to dissolve pigment like henna tattoos. Rub the baby oil onto the tattoo and leave for 10 to 20 minutes then rinse off with warm water.
7. Exfoliating body or face wash
Henna can quickly be removed with an exfoliating body or face wash. Using a product that has rose hips or brown sugar can also help alleviate any irritation issues.
8. Hair conditioner
A conditioner is meant to moisturize your hair, and it will do the same to your henna tattoo (while removing it). Apply a layer of conditioner to the tattoo and let it absorb before rinsing off with warm water.
Have you ever felt like you completely lost your vacay tan after shaving? Well, shaving exfoliates the skin, which removes dead skin cells (RIP tan).
This can help with henna tattoo removal because the layer the tattoo pigment appears on can be exfoliated. Use shaving cream or your go-to shaving product, and shave the tattooed area. Make sure to apply a moisturizing cream or lotion afterward.
10. Soap and warm water
This is an OG method, but with time and patience, soap does the job. Scrubbing the henna off with warm water and soaps helps lift away the pigment from the skin. Repeat this several times a day, and watch out for dryness. Remember to use a moisturizer after (your skin’s gonna need it!).
Note: An antibacterial soap with high alcohol content and scrubbing beads can be a super handy method to remove henna. But, it can really dry your skin out.
11. Witch hazel
If you want a more natural approach, you can use witch hazel to fade and remove that annoying henna tat. Dab it onto the tattoo with a cotton ball or Q-tip, and let it soak in. Then remove with a dry cloth. Repeat a few times a day and moisturize your thirsty skin.
12. Micellar water
Micellar water cleans the skins with particles called micelles, which break down oil, dirt, makeup and other unwanted pigments like henna. Use a cloth to gently rub against skin and rinse with warm water.
Pro tip: It’s also great for removing waterproof eye makeup.
13. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide has been used for whitening teeth and lightening hair. If you have some diluted peroxide handy, apply it right on the henna tattoo. Give it a go several times until you see it fading.
14. Makeup remover
A simple silicone-based makeup remover can do the trick to get rid of your henna tattoo. Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to dab the tattoo. Let it soak into the tattoo and then remove with a dry cloth. Repeat a few times a day.
15. Warm milk
Warm milk can be used to get henna off of fabric and remove the tattoo itself. Heat up milk on the stove or in the microwave (do not simmer or boil!). Then use a sponge or cloth with saturated warm milk and place it over the henna. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before wiping off.
Make sure to rinse the milk area with water so you don’t smell like a roaming dairy farm.
Why you should avoid bleach, chlorine, and toothpaste
We are here to say “put the bleach down!” Do not try to use bleach as a way to remove your henna tattoo; it can lead to severe skin irritation or discoloring of the skin. Bleaching of the skin has been known to cause an array of health effects such as dermatitis, steroid acne, and mercury poisoning (eek!).
Whitening toothpaste can also totally remove your henna. But, toothpaste can really dry out your skin and leave it irritated (probs cause it’s not for your skin). Even derms caution on skipping the toothpaste when it comes to skin and zapping zits.
Henna is a more natural hair dye option that doesn’t have the permanent effects of traditional hair dye, but that doesn’t mean it fades the way you want it to. If it’s time for the henna on your hair to go, you might find what you need by raiding your liquor cabinet or pantry.
Yes, you read that correctly. Dust off that bottle of cheap vodka you’ve been avoiding since college and use it for good.
- Take a sponge soaked with vodka and apply it to your hair.
- Let it set for 15 minutes (shots optional). The vodka breaks down the metal salts in the henna into smaller molecules.
- After it sets, rinse twice with a pH balancing shampoo and conditioner.
17. Argon oil, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil
Similar to using oil on your skin, oil can help fade and pull henna dye from your hair overnight.
- Mix equal parts of these three oils and place the mixture evenly throughout your hair.
- Grab a shower cap and secure it with a headband to leave it on overnight.
- Get some Zzz’s.
- In the a.m., hop in the shower and apply shampoo first. Then rinse with warm water and shampoo again until the dye is gone.
Henna seems to be safe for most adults when used on the skin or hair, but according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), certain additives can lead to allergic reactions or side effects.
Henna side effects can include:
- inflammation of the skin
If you notice any of these side effects, contact your doc ASAP to avoid getting an infection.
Use the patch test
Always perform a patch test before you use henna. Place a small amount on the inside of your forearm or your elbow and wait an hour before rinsing off. If any irritation occurs, skip the henna for your skin’s sake.
Beware of black henna
WTF is black henna? It’s henna that has high levels of chemical dye that you do not want to tangle with. The main risk is a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD) that can cause severe chemical burns and lead to allergic reactions.
Always research where your henna is coming from and be wary of henna temporary tattoo stands and shops that aren’t open about the contents of their henna.