The Encyclopedia of Henna
Stratum Corneum: 
Why doesn't a henna stain last forever like a tattoo?
Catherine Cartwright-Jones c 2003

Kent State University

Every day your body a grows new layer of skin cells below the surface of the skin.  These skin cells cells are interlocked and rise upward in columns, being pushed up by the new cells underneath.  As they rise in this column, they gradually die, dry out ... and become "corneated".  Corneated comes from the Latin word for "horn", and that means the cells get hard and horny (Bevis and Butthead , stop grinning and giggling!) ... that is to say, that instead of being moist, soft and flexible, they get stiff and dry.  When they emerge at the surface of your skin, they are very dead, very dry, and getting loose.   If you put a piece of tape on your skin and pull it off, you will pull off a layer of dead, dry skin cells.  If you have very dry, flaky skin, you are shedding lots of corneated cells from your Stratum Corneum. 

When your henna  disappears, the henna stained cells have emerged at the outside of the skin and exfoliated. 

Tattooed cells are deeper in the skin, and do not exfoliate.  To tattoo skin, pigment is placed UNDER the Stratum Corneum into the basal and spinous layers.  This why tattoos bleed and hurt: tattoo pigment is going into living tissue.  Henna does not hurt because it is staining dead cells, and those cells exfoliate. 


"Number of Cell Layers of the Stratum Corneum in Normal Skin - relationship to the anatomical location on the body, age, sex and physical parameters"
Zhen Ya-Xian, Takaki Suetake, Hachiro Tagani
Archive of Dermatology Research, 1999, Issue 291: 555-559; Springer-Verlag, 1999

"Skin, the Human Fabric"
Doug Podolsky, US News Books, Washington DC, 1982

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*"Henna, the Joyous Body Art" 
the Encyclopedia of Henna
Catherine Cartwright-Jones c 2000 
registered with the US Library of Congress
TXu 952-968

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Catherine Cartwright-Jones
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