Can Pregnant Women Use Henna?

Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a small tropical bush that produces a red dye. This natural dye is native to North Africa and the Middle East, and has been used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes for over 9,000 years, though it's used is fairly new to the western world. Henna has a multitude of uses, including as a temporary tattoo and as a natural hair dye.

Is Henna Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

When applied to the surface of the skin or as a hair dye, henna is generally safe for use during pregnancy. Henna should be avoided if you or any of your current children have any of the following conditions:

  • Anemia
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • G6DP Deficiency
  • Any condition which affects your blood system or immune system

Select your dye carefully, and make sure that the dye you are using is 100% natural henna. Natural henna stains the skin orange, red, brown, cinnamon, brick, chocolate, or coffee, and can last about one to four weeks. Safe and natural henna does not come in black color.

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Make sure the dye you are using is NOT black henna. Black henna is not safe for anyone, as it contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD). PPD causes burns, blisters, and other reactions that can last for months and are difficult to treat.

Stop Hennaing and consult a midwife or physician if you experience any of the following:

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  • Bleeding
  • Cramping
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Severe joint pain

Also, make sure you are sitting or lying in a comfortable position while the artist works, and that you take frequent breaks to stand up and move around, eat, drink, and use the restroom.

Henna Belly Art

In countries such as Morocco and India, it's a tradition to apply henna “tattoos” during the third trimester of pregnancy. Many of these cultures believe that the red dye and patterns used in henna bless the mother and baby, and protect them from evil spirits.

Today, henna belly art is becoming popular as a celebration of pregnancy and is a common practice during baby showers and blessingways. Some pregnant women even plan a henna party, for the sole purpose of her and her friends having their bodies decorated in henna, in celebration of her pregnancy.

Henna Natural Hair Dye

Commercial hair dyes contain strong chemicals, and there is some concern about the safety of their use during pregnancy.

Most mainstream medical advisers will tell you that commercial hair dyes are safe for use during pregnancy. However, some scientists and natural health professionals believe that the chemicals contained in commercial hair dye can cause various allergies, illness, and even cancer.

Those of us in the natural health community generally shy away from such harsh chemicals, pregnant or not. As long as you follow the general guidelines above, henna is a safe and natural alternative.

The quality of dyes can vary greatly depending on what brand or type you buy. Body quality henna dyes are preferred to cheaper boxed versions.


Overall, henna is a safe and natural dye, and certainly a better alternative than commercial dyes that may contain harsh chemicals.


The Henna Page

Harvest Moon Henna Hair and Beard is Vegan Hair Dye


Do you plan to use henna during your pregnancy?


Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

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