Body painting is a form of body art, and has probably been evolved around since the beginning of Indus civilization.
In almost every tribalism culture we can see the body arts. Here the human body is painted by some herbs or even by burning marks, this is also used as one of the identity marks among many tribal groups. The cannibals also have these habits of marking something on their body. I have seen in national geographic channel some parts of the African regime they used to make body art by sharp knife, the blood simply bleeds out so much, but they seems to never bother(they apply some medicinal herbs to heal the wound) .
The body painting was performed during ceremonies or merely just for the beauty of it. Back then they used clay and other natural pigments. Body painting still survives in parts of the world, and especially ‘Mehndi’, the form of body painting that uses henna dyes, is now very popular in the western world. The henna tattoo is semi-permanent.
Since the 1960’s, body painting emerged as an actual art form. However, there is the never-ending discussion about its social acceptability because body painting practically always involves nudity.
But no art without paint of course, and you’ll be happy to know that the paint is restricted to guidelines: the body paint has to be non-toxic and non-allergenic. The paint easily washes of with water and soap.
As for the henna dyes, which Mehndi uses, there’s a difference between the synthetic black henna, and the natural brown henna. The natural henna dye is completely safe when body painting, but the synthetic black henna dye could cause allergic reactions. You should have yourself patch tested before using these at body painting.