Woman posts before and after photos to warn everyone that dyeing hair with henna can be dangerous

When it comes to our beauty routines, we don’t often think about the ingredients that are contained within our products. However, a beauty and health vlogger’s recent experience has us thinking twice.

Chemese Armstrong encountered a traumatic hair dyeing experience in the past. She’s actually allergic to Paraphenylenediamine (or PPD), which is a dark dye used in countless hair dye-related products. “More than two-thirds of hair dyes currently contain PPD or related chemicals,” Armstrong explains, adding that that’s why she aimed to find a more natural option.

When a dermatologist advised Chemese to try dyeing her hair with henna, she then called Jamila Salon Suites in Austin, Texas to ask about the process. She spoke with an employee, asked a ton of questions, and was told that the henna dye is all-natural, safe, and manufactured right there in Austin. That’s when Armstrong decided to book the appointment.


Upon arriving at the salon, Chemese told her stylist about her past allergic reaction to hair dye, so they performed a strand test. After 30 minutes, there was no reaction, so both felt comfortable proceeding. Armstrong’s entire head of hair and scalp was covered with the henna dye, which had to sit for 2-4 hours and then be washed out at home.

After leaving the salon, Chemese soon felt as though her scalp was on fire. Then, her face began to swell, her eyes swelled shut, and the reaction continued to get worse as time went on (even after she washed out the dye and used a clarifying shampoo). Armstrong ended up visiting her doctor, but nothing improved her situation, so she had to have someone drive her to the emergency room (since she was unable to pry her eyes open at this point).

The hospital staff helped to stop the swelling and, once they were sure she would be okay, Chemese was sent home with an EpiPen in case things took a turn for the worse.

“I’m still not one hundred percent yet. I’m weak and very tired but I’m taking it one day at a time,” Armstrong told Yahoo Beauty. “I don’t know the brand of the henna because it was done at a salon. The salon owner has yet to get in contact with me. My focus right now is my health.” In a YouTube video about her experience, Chemese adds that she feels as though she was lied to by those who assisted her at the salon.

Yahoo Beauty then contacted Jamila Salon Suites and asked for a response. Jamila, who they presumed to be the owner, stated, “Sometimes we get the henna from Whole Foods, sometimes from India, so we don’t really know.” She followed this up with an e-mail, which read, “The henna I use comes from India, where most of henna is grown and processed. There have been no allergic reactions to this henna product. No PPD is indicated by the manufacturer.”

According to Henna For Hair, allergies to henna are super rare. The site claims, “The reaction to pure henna is a Type I allergic reaction,  entirely different from and unrelated to the frequent Type IV sensitization to PPD in synthetic hair dyes.  It is very unusual for a person who is allergic to PPD in synthetic hair dyes to also be allergic to henna.”

In fact, henna dye is considered much safer than box dye. According to the beauty company Lush, it’s box dye that “penetrates your skin, goes into your bloodstream and enters your system.” Henna, on the other hand, only stains the outside of the hair follicle and easily fades.

Chemese herself has tried to contact the salon, but they have not responded to her. Yet, she is not interested in fighting them or getting angry. Instead, she wants to move forward, adding“This just made me realize that I need to pay more attention to what I put in my body and what I put on my body. I like to think of myself of a naturalist and I just want to be more mindful about [that].”