What colors of henna are available?
Henna is a natural plant dye, which stains an orange-brown color. Some people call other temporary body art “henna”, but true henna is from the henna plant (latin name: lawsonia inermis). Henna is never, ever black. "Black henna" is not relying on henna to dye the skin at all, but rather PPD, a harsh chemical dye.
Note that there are a variety of other safe temporary body art options available in many, many colors - call or email Heather for more information about these.
Where can I get the best quality henna?
The best quality henna I have ever used professionally in my 12 years as a henna artist is available for sale at ArtisticAdornment.com. Artistic Organic Henna, sourced from the Indian state of Rajasthan, is my favorite, as it yields a very dark color, the lines are easy to drape and yet the paste is not overly stringy, and the sift is very fine. The fact that it is organic and helping create more sustainable farming options is an added bonus!
Be very careful where you buy your henna. Most henna in grocery stores, will yield disappointing results. Even if it started out as good, pure, finely sifted henna (and *very* few do start out at optimal quality), henna is perishable, and great care must be taken in storing the powder properly. If it is exposed to excessive heat or moisture, it will lose dye potency. Many Indian / Middle Eastern grocery store owners do not know or care about this, and will let their henna go stale on their shelves.
What is in your henna paste?
My henna paste is made with the body art quality 100%
natural henna from ArtisticAdornment.com. I mix my own recipe of juices, teas, and essential oil with the henna powder to make
it into the paste that is painted onto the skin. The henna kits at ArtisticAdornment.com include the same ingredients as I use in my own henna paste, and give step by step instructions for how to mix your own paste.
How long will it last?
Henna will last until the skin it dyes exfoliates. This is typically 1-3 weeks. However, henna can last as long as 8 weeks on the thick soles of your feet, or go away as quickly as 3-4 days on very thin parts of your skin (like your face).
Is henna safe? Yes!
As mentioned above, henna is 100% natural. Henna is one of the safest cosmetics ever used, and allergies are so rare as to seem nonexistent. I have never had a customer report an allergy to henna itself, even those who have many other allergies. A patch test is still a good idea if your skin is particularly sensitive. It seems that citrus allergies are far more common than allergies to henna; as there are often citrust ingredients (almost always lemon juice) in our henna paste, please advise if you have citrus allergies.
Is henna a tattoo? Does it hurt? No.
In English, there are no useful words to describe a henna stain ornamenting the skin, so henna designs are frequently called "henna tattoos". Hennaed skin is not tattooed. Unlike a tattoo, henna only dyes the outermost layers of the skin. No needles are used. Henna is painted onto the surface of the skin. Having henna applied feels like having your skin decorated with pudding. The process is relaxing and pleasant. It is a little wet and cold - so it is most enjoyable to have done in the summer!
How does it work?
Henna dyes the upper layers of your skin using completely natural processes. Henna contains the lawsome molecule, which dyes organic matter like hair, skin, fingernails, and natural fibers. It takes time for the lawsome to bind with cells, so the henna paste must stay moist and in contact with the skin for as long as possible. Heat also makes the dye stain a darker, deeper color.
Is henna edible?
Why do you want to eat henna?? Henna is not approved for consumption by the FDA. Technically, we suppose you could eat plain henna leaf powder, but in no way whatsoever recommend that you do. No, really though - why do you want to eat henna? We heard people were searching the internet trying to find answers to this question.... but we have no idea what the appeal would be. Please let us know.
Henna by Heather's
...first off, make sure you start with high-quality henna supplies! without those, the best aftercare in the world won't help...
1. Let the henna dry.
2. Leave the henna on.
3. Take extra steps for a better stain.
Note: Some also recommend wrapping your henna. This is advisable only for those who are having extensive work done, and if someone experienced will be there when the henna has dried so that they can do the wrapping. Wrapping done wrong can lead to undesirable results. Mostly, in my experience, wrapping is unnecessary as long as a high quality henna mix is used. Brides who want to wrap their henna should let an experienced professional do the wrapping for best results.
4. Take the henna off.
5. Protect the henna from water.
This is not a necessary step, but is recommended.
6. Watch the color develop.
7. Take care to maintain your henna as long as possible.
Answers to other questions about henna:
Henna is a plant; the leaves of this plant have a dye called lawsone. The art of applying the plant leaves to the skin is typically given the same as the plant itself. If you have a henna tree growing in your yard, you can simply pick the leaves off the tree and rub them on your skin. To get the sort of fine lines that are typically seen in modern henna design, the leaves must be dried, powdered, sifted so they are very fine, and then mixed into a paste.
How can I learn to do henna myself?
Here is a recommended plan of action for anyone who wants to learn to do henna:
Here is the best advice for getting a deep, dark henna stain:
So, here is the realistic, short version of what most people can do to get the best henna color possible with minimal effort:
That's all!.... With just the bare bones minimal aftercare, you can expect your henna to last 1-3 weeks, typically 10 days, as long as very high quality henna powder and essential oils are used.
There are a few things that may be wrong here. Natural henna, when mixed properly, is a texture that is kind of like toothpaste, pudding, thin grits, or thick Greek style yogurt. Henna paste anywhere in that consistency range is workable and should stay in place once you apply it to the skin, even if you move - as long as you don't bump into anything.
Pure henna that you mix properly on your own will stick to your skin well. If you are having problems, be sure to get professional henna quality supplies and detailed instructions to ensure that you mix it properly.
In short, yes. Most things marketed as "black henna" are actually a harsh chemical dye called PPD, which the FDA (in the USA) has banned for use on skin. Using PPD on the skin can cause chemical burns that leave awful scars. There used to be "black henna" suppliers who sold this in the US to unsuspecting customers who did not know the risks, but the FDA has cracked down on them and they no longer sell PPD masquerading as"black henna". However, there are suppliers based in other countries who will still sell the stuff to unsuspecting customers; buyer beware!
Where did henna come from?
This is a much debated question. You’ll have to do research with primary sources with a critical eye if you really have an interest in answering this question well. Simply "Googling" the answer will not yield a good answer, as the question is a complex one, and most of the frequently cited popular sources for information about this question have serious fundamental research problems, as far as I can tell having looked at some of the original sources and scholarly articles cited.
This said, the earliest physical evidence we have of henna usage is from ancient Egypt; mummies were found with henna-dyed hair and nails. This is the *only* indisputable fact about henna usage in ancient times that is easy to sum up quickly in a sentence you will remember, in my opinion.
I appreciate the ongoing historical research of Noam Sienna when it comes to this question, as he has actually looked into all of the primary sources most people typically cite as evidence of early henna usage (and may more beyond that). In many cases he has found their interpretations of this evidence to be flawed. He has not yet published this work, as it is still in progress, but when he does, it will be an excellent source for the public to use in answering this question thoroughly yet correctly.
Are there any religious reasons not to do henna? Is it against any religion?
Henna is not against any religion. There are indications in the Old Testament (aka Torah, and therefore also in the Christian Bible and Muslim Koran) that one should not permanently write on the skin. It is only about *permanent* body marking and the word used particularly means "to inscribe", to write (as in words)... not simply to draw (as in pretty henna patterns).
If you encounter people who insist you are stealing "their" culture by doing henna/mehndi, please feel very free to remind them that henna has been used throughout India, North Africa, and the Middle East for a very long time, and no one is sure about exactly where within that very large region the use of henna actually started. And it is a moot point, almost, anyway, as henna has a rich history in all of these areas, and people throughout the region have a reasonable claim to traditional henna use.
Henna is most commonly used for brides. Henna is traditionally done the night before the wedding (although we now know that doing henna 2 nights before the wedding yields the best color on the wedding day). The henna is primarily done to beautify the bride and mark her status as a newly married woman. Even today, when you see a woman with very extensive henna on both of her hands, on both sides of the hands, it is quite reasonable to guess that she is probably newly married. (Alternatively she might be a henna artist, or a woman with a lot of free time and money...)
Henna is also used for many other social celebrations. If there is a joyous festival, you can guess that henna is probably a part of it!
Morocco is a bit of a special case, as henna is believed to have a lot of baraka, or life/spiritual energy. Applying henna to the skin thus is thought to bring good fortune and ward off evil. Henna is applied to the hands and feet, places that are frequently in touch with the outside world, to protect the body from anything negative entering it. Pregnant woman, especially, have henna applied (to the hands and feet, not the belly as is becoming popular in the USA), to bring the good and keep out the bad during childbirth, a very dangerous time. Boys also have henna done at the time of their circumcision, again to bring in the good and keep out the bad during this painful and dangerous ritual. (Is it thus any surprise that grown Moroccan men really do not seem to have any fond associations with henna...?)
Most henna for sale is sold as hair dye. Hair dye henna has both a lower dye potency and a coarser sift than henna sold for body art purposes. Also, hair dye henna may have adulterants added that would make it unsafe for use on skin. So, at worst hair dye henna could yield some very serious allergic reactions, and at best, the results would still be disappointing. We recommend using only excellent quality, high dye potency, finely sifted henna intended for body art from a reputable supplier.
How will henna look on dark skin?
Beautiful! As henna is reddish-brown, the red tones come through even more when it is applied to brown skin. Keep in mind that henna is traditionally done in North Africa, the Middle East, and India, and you can see that hennaing dark skin is the norm, not the exception.
Is getting henna at the beach a good idea?
No, getting henna at the beach is a horrible idea if you intend to swim at all! You may get henna done after you are done swimming for the day only. As we said above, you need to keep the henna on your skin for as long as possible and avoid contact with water for as long as possible; swimming is obviously contraindicated.
Sunbathing with henna paste on your skin, on the other hand, is a fabulous idea. The warmth from the sun will help the henna paste dye your skin better. Do be aware that the henna on your skin acts as a natural sunblock, and you will have basically a tan line in the shape of your henna tattoo, even after the henna fades. Most people think that this is cool. But if you don't think it is cool, be careful not to get a sun tan while you have a henna design on your skin.
Henna is definitely fine for men, too! It is indeed traditional for brides to get more intricate pattern work done, but men often have a parallel henna ceremony when the bride is having her henna done, at least dipping the groom's fingers in henna or putting a small circle of henna in the center of the palm.
There is no reason men cannot enjoy henna as a safe and natural form of temporary body art. We do many henna designs for men that replicate the kind of permanent tattoo designs that are popular for men (especially tribal designs). We also find Fessi traditional Moroccan henna designs to be popular with men once they know what they are, as the designs are intricate, but geometric, not floral.
Not unless you live in India, the Middle East, or North Africa. A very particular climate is required to grow henna, and we have no such climates in the US.
Can I henna my baby?
I am not a doctor, and can't give medical advice, but I can say that generally this is not a good idea. There is genetic condition called G6PD deficiency, and you will not know until later in life if your baby has this. If the baby does have this, applying large amounts of henna could be dangerous.
This henna I did on myself doesn't look too good... or I got some gorgeous henna done but now I have a job interview where it would be inappropriate... what do I do to remove henna faster?
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Use an exfoliating scrub and/or a pumice stone. Try a loofah. Don't exfoliate so much in one session that your skin becomes red and irritated. You can get the henna to fade more quickly in this way, but you cannot instantly remove it.
Is it okay to get henna when you are pregnant?
Again I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice, but henna is often used on pregnant women. Women expecting babies in Morocco have been doing henna for a very long time. Hennaing the pregnant belly has become very popular in the USA. It is recommended that you ask your doctor first (with extensive information about henna in hand) if you are unsure and want medical advice.
|This webpage is copyrighted, written by Heather Caunt-Nulton. You may not copy any of this webpage, in whole or in part, without explicit written permission from the author and artist, Heather Caunt-Nulton.|