Girl, 17, ‘scarred by Black Henna bought in Upton Park’

Illegal black henna left a young girl burnt and scarred prompting Newham’s trading watchdogs to seize thousands of boxes of the substance from local shops.

Sallyha Din, 17, was shopping with her mother at Green Street, Upton Park when she came across the popular “Rani Black Henna”, a decorative type of stain that is widely used by the Asian community at weddings and celebrations.

Her mother, Nalia Din, said she asked the shop assistant whether it was safe and they assured her that it was and told her that they had sold many boxes of the substance.

Despite the packaging claiming there were no side effects, Sallyha experienced a severe allergic reaction.

Sallyha, from Cambridge, said: “It was just getting more and more intense burning to the point where the pattern where I had done it was raised and started to blister.

“My hand went red around it, around the point where I got the reaction and then I was just in a lot of pain.”

The “Black Henna” that Sallyha had bought contained high levels of benzene and lead, which can cause symptoms such as headaches, stomach pain, behavioural problems and anaemia.

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Nalia said that she consulted a doctor but they were unsure whether the scarring is permanent.

Trading Standards officer Kari Aslam said: “We are not waiting to get complaints, we are acting proactively, getting out there in Newham, seizing the stuff and taking it off the market and taking action against those that are selling it.”

Officers believe that the substance is being imported from Pakistan and widely circulated throughout the borough where 6,700 boxes were seized from one shop.

Newham Council’s Executive Member for Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Cllr Unmesh Desai said: “Parents and young people must be very vigilant for this henna.

“Newham is taking the lead in London by cracking down hard as we believe it is circulating across the capital. “Anyone who comes across it should contact their local council’s trading standards office immediately.”

If you see anyone selling this type of henna, contact Newham Trading Standards on 01622 626520 or 01622 626523.