Henna is a plant best known for its use to color and condition the hair naturally. The henna plant, famous for Rajastan, India, grows in warm climates. The leaves from the plant are crushed and make into a paste to safely draw a design directly on the skin. The result of this temporary tattoo, traditionally reddish brown in color, will last any where from a few days to several weeks. The application process is painless and in no way harms the skin.
Frequently recognized as Henna Tattoos, Mehndi, as it is known in India, is the latest craze yet its roots are centuries old and its practices, symbolism and traditions have been passed down through the ages by women. Traditionally the designs are placed on hands and feet, but now the modern generation has changed it all. They are now very popular on all visible areas of the body including the belly, forehead, neck arms, back and shoulders.
How long does it last?
The design will look good for 1 to 2 weeks, fading gradually within that time. Factors determining this are:
- depth of the stain
- part of the body it is applied to
- exposure to water, chemicals and rubbing
What is the color of the henna stain?
After the paste comes off, the stain color ranges from orange to a dark reddish brown. The darkness depends on the following:
- part of the body it is applied to (the hands and feet stain the darkest)
- quality of the henna powder
- quality of the application
- amount of time the paste is left on (best to leave it on for at least 4 hours)
What about black henna?
Henna alone does not produce a black stain. There are several authentic additives or mixtures that give a black-dying henna, especially in north Africa. However, these formulas could be toxic and unhealthy for the body.
Why do so many photographs of henna look black?
These photos were taken with the henna paste freshly applied or still on the skin. When the paste is removed after 6 to 12 hours, the stain color will initially be a orange red and will darken over the next couple of days to a rich red-brown.
How long does it take to do?
The length of sitting time ranges from 5 to 10 minutes for a simple design up to several hours for a large body area painted with an intricate deign. Although the painting itself may take only a few minutes, the paste needs to be preserved with a lemon-sugar solution which the artist applies after the paste becomes firm on the skin about 15 minutes later.
How does it feel to have it done?
Unlike tattoos, henna does not hurt because there are no needles used and the skin is not broken. Henna is applied to the top of the skin with an applicator (the traditional cone or plastic bag or with a bottle with a fine silver nozzle tip). Many people enjoy the coolness of the paste as it is painted on along with the further cooling of the lemon-sugar solution. The henna paste is an all natural soothing, aromatic mixture that conditions the skin.