Thursday, Sep 20, 2018 | Last Update : 09:29 PM IST

Spurious henna turns festivities off-colour, unsafe

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANJAY BOHRA
Published : Aug 18, 2018, 1:08 am IST
Updated : Aug 18, 2018, 1:08 am IST

In the last four years, Rajasthan drug control department has not lifted even a single henna sample for detecting harmful chemicals and colours.

Doctors claim that  most cases of allergy reported by patients are caused by chemicals mixed in henna. (Representational image)
 Doctors claim that most cases of allergy reported by patients are caused by chemicals mixed in henna. (Representational image)

Jaipur: After two months of heat wave, monsoon has brought a bit of relief and also heralded a spell of festivities - starting with Teej and then Rakshabandhan. And, no celebration in the country, including Rajasthan, is complete without henna or mehndi that has a universal appeal. Cutting across religious lines, it holds a special place in people’s life and adds to their happiness.

Walk around a mall, scores of girls and women can be seen surrounding a young man, waiting patiently for their turn as he holds a cone and slowly moves it on a customer’s palm. However, even mehndi is not free from adulteration. Manufacturers have been adding harmful dyes and other chemical substances to mehndi just to make a quick buck. Unsuspected women put themselves at risk.

Recently, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisaton (CDSCO), New Delhi, collected samples from a couple of manufacturers in Delhi and sent them for testing at Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory in Chandigarh. The presence of extraneous dyes was found in two samples while other samples failed for having less than the required total microbial count as well as total yeast and mould count.

The drug controller general of India (DCGI) ordered all the state drug controllers to seize the batch numbers of these manufacturers under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

Ironically, the Rajasthan drug control department is yet to act against spurious mehndi even as a number of festivals like Rakshabandhan, Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi are approaching. Not a single sample has been lifted for testing in the last four years. Four samples had failed in 2008 while one each in 2010 and 2012. “We collect samples intermittently and send them for testing. We also take action on receiving a complaint,” said Ajay Phatak, drug controller.

Several manufacturers also use excessive para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which is a common ingredient in hair dye products.

According to pharma expert V.N. Verma, a mehndi product must be ISO10350:1999 as per Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission and PPD should be less than 2 per cent.

“Most cases we receive are of allergy caused by chemical-mixed mehndi. The black mehndi contains PPD, which is harmful for skin and can even cause,” said Dr Punit Saxena.

He also warned against the claims of quick colour. “If anyone claims that he will apply black mehndi in just five minutes, be cautious as it means the thing is adulterated,” said Dr Saxena.

Desire for a beautiful henna pattern makes women take the services of professionals. “I do not have patience to prepare mehndi at home. It is convenient to go to a designer and I also want quick colour because I cannot afford to keep mehndi for more than a couple of hours,” said Ritu Ojha, a teacher in a private school. 

Tags: mehndi, chemicals mixed in henna