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Ancient Sunrise® is Body Art Quality and more. We prove the purity!

Ancient Sunrise® products are all ‘body art quality’ pure plant powders. ‘Body art quality’ was a term coined by Catherine Cartwright-Jones PhD in the late 1990’s to describe henna powder that is ‘single source’ pulverized and finely sifted henna plant leaves, not a blend of several plants, and never including contaminants, adulterants, additives, dyes, and grit. The henna industries in India and Pakistan have since adopted this terminology to distinguish pure henna products from inferior mixes. ‘Body art quality’ is use to describe other Ancient Sunrise® indigo and cassia powders when they are grown and milled to that standard, though cassia and indigo powders are not used for body art.

Isn’t henna just henna?
The henna market is unregulated. Anything a manufacture/exporter chooses to call ‘henna’ can be stamped henna and shipped out. Though the USFDA has a definition of henna, other countries are not required to abide by US law.

When products labeled ‘henna’ are shipped to the USA, customs might do some spot checking of shipments if there is an alert on the product, otherwise customs resources are spent on more serious risks. There is no requirement for a henna importer to investigate what is actually in the shipment, and to my knowledge, Ancient Sunrise® is the only importer who does so. The process of testing henna through an independent laboratory is not only expensive; it requires enough expertise to know what labs to run and how to read the results. I did my PhD on henna and I know what labs to order and how to evaluate the results.

This leaves ‘what’s in a box of henna’ as an open question and about 95% of packages marked ‘henna’ available for retail sale have something other than henna in the box and that ‘something’ is often unlisted. The buyer often does not know what the contents are, and there have been some very unfortunate incidents when ingredients are undeclared additives and contaminants just as there have been problems with undeclared contents in other industries such as pet foods, fast-food hamburgers, ground beef, Chinese traditional herbs and infant formula.

At Ancient Sunrise®,We test every shipment more thoroughly than any other henna company and we receive a detailed report from the laboratory on every batch so you can be confident that what you have purchased is exactly what we say it is; the best possible quality, so that you can get reliable results. We test every shipment with microscopy, LUKE II, a heavy metal assay, HPLC, and PPD testing. We began testing when we were chosen to be a supplier for henna for testing henna as a therapy for hand-foot syndrome at a university medical school; we followed the testing methods as required by the FDA for medical studies, and as a part of my PhD research, we continued this testing.

How do we prove the purity of what we sell?

We prove the Lawsone content in Ancient Sunrise® henna. Lawsone is the red-orange dye molecule in henna, and is produced with in the leaves, particularly the petiole. Ancient Sunrise® sends every batch of henna to a certified independent laboratory for lawsone testing by HPLC method. The batches that have higher dye content are sold to cover resistant gray and to create auburn shades, labeled Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Twilight. The batches that have lower dye content are sold for rosier and lighter red shades, and are sold as Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Monsoon or Ancient Sunrise® Rajasthani Jasmine. Henna crops vary through the growing regions and vary from season to season. Some years have excellent harvests of henna, and some years have poor harvests of henna. "Freshness' is not an accurate predictor of whether henna has high dye content. If a crop is poor, the dye content may be low no matter how fresh the crop is. If a crop is unusually good, the dye content may last for several years with good packaging. In ideal conditions, the lawsone content degrades very slowly. If the packaging allows moisture, light or heat to damage the henna, a very good crop may quickly become worthless.

Lawsone (the red-orange dye that naturally occurs in henna leaves) normally ranges from 0.3% to 2% or higher at harvest; levels higher than 3% are unusual. Milling and storage often reduce dye content, so exporters’ claims of lawsone content require retesting on import for accuracy. At this point, we have never found any exporter’s claim of lawsone content to be the same as when we receive the crop: the dye content has always been lower than claimed. Perhaps there is substantial loss of quality during the milling, packaging and export process, or there is some other reason why their claims cannot be verified. Ancient Sunrise® sends every shipment to a certified independent laboratory for lawsone content, to get the analysis of small batch testing which is always more precise than the claim for a whole year’s crop.

We prove there is no pesticide residue in Ancient Sunrise®; this is BETTER than an ‘organic’ label.
A claim that a plant is organic does not include the possibility that a nearby field may have been sprayed with pesticides, and that the pesticide drifted on the wind, or been carried down an irrigation ditch. In testing ‘organic’ henna I have found evidence of wind-borne wind-borne DDT (possibly from spraying for mosquitoes in the vicinity) and some dangerous and illegal wind-borne pesticides probably sprayed on a nearby cotton crop. Ancient Sunrise® has a Luke II Multiresidue Screen as performed on every batch of product to identify the presence of a variety of carbamate and GC/MS pesticide residues. This test identifies approximately 300 possible pesticides may be identified by searches against 2 spectral libraries as required by DFA Detection of California Detection Limits - Screen II (GC/MS Pesticides).

We prove Ancient Sunrise® henna isn’t full of sand, grit, and chunks, other dyes or adulterants.

Most henna is hard to get into your hair and harder to get out of your hair. Ancient Sunrise® henna that is very finely cleaned, ground and sifted is sifted to a very fine powder, with particles 230 microns. We ask our exporters to sift to this quality, and we check every batch. This is a little finer than silt and a little larger than most pollen (there are 25400 microns in one inch). Most commercially available henna for hair is difficult to rinse out cleanly because of the coarse sift with many particles of 1000 microns or more with chunks about the size of the eye of a needle, 1230 microns.

This is henna that is milled to a particle size no larger than 230 microns.
This is henna that is regularly sold to dye hair: it is difficult to rinse out.
Much henna from India has a green dye added to make it appear to be better quality than it really is. The green chunks in this image are a green azo dye, and there are other adulterants also visible in this henna.
This is henna with PPD added, sold as ‘black henna’ and without an ingredient declaration on the exterior of the package. This ‘henna’ contains over 30% PPD, five times higher than the PPD amount allowed for hair dye in the USA and Europe. We make certain that our henna is never adulterated with PPD.

To compare, these are crushed leaves of henna plants that I grew, dried, and crumbled myself.

Ancient Sunrise® henna won’t fade as other henna products do.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, henna products were frequently adulterated as companies attempted to globalize the henna market. These adulterations were means of compensating for low quality and inconsistent sources of henna as well as the quality loss in packaging and storing henna during long distances from grower to market. These additives and adulterants such as walnut powder, myrobalan, madder, and metallic salts were usually not visible to the naked eye and were undeclared so the people who used the product were unaware that they had anything other than henna. These additives washed out of the hair, so people assumed that henna faded. Ancient Sunrise® henna does not fade. The additives in other products fade. Ancient Sunrise® color is very permanent, and because we understand the chemistry of lawsone binding with keratin, we can assure you that your henna will not fade, it actually tends to gradually darken.
For more information on the additives that some suppliers include in products sold as ‘henna’:

Is Ancient Sunrise® really is safe to use? I read online that it causes cancer.

A claim that henna causes cancer occasionally surfaces on the internet, but in actual use, this is definitely not the case.* Anything, in sufficient quantity, is injurious, but it would require a daily application of five hundred pounds of henna paste to a person to reach an injurious level. The amounts used by a person to dye their hair are harmless, and the only reason to avoid henna would be in the case of homozygous G6PD deficiency, or the very rare case of allergy. Some people who have serious hay fever allergies occasionally have a cross-sensitization to henna powder. Because we PROVE that Ancient Sunrise® products are exactly what we say they are, no more and no less, you be confident that you know what you’re getting and that there isn’t some undeclared additive that’s going to harm you or your hair.

*Marzin, D., Kirkland, D. (2003) “An assessment of the genotoxicity of 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, the natural dye ingredient of Henna.” Mutation Research 537 (2003) 183–199 and Marzin, D., Kirkland, D. (2004) “2-Hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, the natural dye of Henna, is non-genotoxic in the mouse bone marrow micronucleus test and does not produce oxidative DNA damage in Chinese hamster ovary cells.” Mutation Research, 560 41–47