More than a year after Qatar regulated the use of black or coloured henna because of an ingredient that could cause severe allergy on prolonged use, commercial outlets continue to sell the dye and salons use it with scant regard to the rules, it is learnt.
Henna is a very popular beauty product in Qatar, and its sales increase during Ramadan and Eid as many people also tend to use it for the henna design and tattoo during this period.
The new regulations were imposed last year following a study on the harmful effects of black/coloured henna that contain a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD). The test was conducted by the Laboratories and Standardisation Affairs Department at the Ministry of Environment.
“From June 1, 2012, every shipment of Shampoo or Black Henna should be accompanied with evidence of conformity such as test reports issued by an independent accredited laboratory like Intertek confirming compliance to the below stated requirements: Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) in henna (and hair dye products): maximum 6%; and 1,4 Dioxane: maximum 10ppm in shampoo,” the department had stated.
PPD is a chemical substance that is widely used as a hair dye.
It may also be found in textile or fur dyes, dark coloured cosmetics, temporary tattoos, photographic developer and lithography plates, photocopying and printing inks, black rubber, oils, greases and gasoline.
After the ban was introduced, local businesses were only allowed to import and sell natural henna in the market while dealers of henna were also asked to put warning stickers on each packet informing people about the black henna that it should only be used as a hair dye.
Also, the government had last year required all women’s salons to put up a 20X40 board advising customers not to use black/coloured henna on the skin, eyelids and eyelashes.
However, not many beauty salons are following this directive.
Some of the men’s salons said they have not heard about any restrictions on the use of black henna. “We use black henna for dyeing the hair,” they said.
Meanwhile, the henna, which is available in different brands of black and brown colour, are being widely sold in many hyper and supermarkets across the country with no clear details of the level of PPD they contained.
Although, most products carry on their packets warning of skin allergy or blindness if used wrongly, the level of PPD they contain was not clearly specified.
Ingredients listed on the packet of one of the popular brands include: herbal henna powder, barum peroxide, paraphenylenediamine, citric acid, magnesium carbonate and sodium sulphate.
Written boldly in block letters underneath the list of ingredients is a phrase - contains paraphenylenediamine.
The amount of each of the ingredients was not specified as required by the new rule.
The problem with PPD is that most people don’t know if they’re allergic to it until they have already received lasting damage from a reaction.
Reaction caused by the use of black henna hair dye in mild cases usually only involves dermatitis to the upper eyelids or the rims of the ears.
In more severe cases, there may be marked reddening and swelling of the scalp and the face.
Severe allergy to PPD can result in contact urticaria (commonly referred to as hives - a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps) and rarely, anaphylaxis - a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.
People working with PPD such as hairdressers and film developers may also develop dermatitis on their hands.
“We had last year been instructed by the government not to use black henna on the skin, other than dyeing the hair, but we still receive many customers, mostly Arabs, asking us to use henna for blackening their eyebrows and eyelashes,” a hairdresser, who will not be named told Gulf Times yesterday.
She claimed that requests of such customers are usually turned down by the salon in order not to go against the law.
“When they come asking for this, we just tell them we no longer offer such services. Some ladies could at times be very persistent in their requests but we usually stand our ground, especially when you are not sure if that customer is a government informant,” she added.
Shortly after the ban was imposed last year, a beauty salon was temporarily closed in Al Khor after it was found using black henna.The authorities also carried out inspections at other salons to check the beauty products being used in these centres.
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