What is Henna?
Henna is a small tree with leaves that contain a dye that easily stains the skin. It has been around for 5000 years. People of Middle east and eastern Africa used to decor their body and hair with henna. Later, merchants from middle east and Africa brought henna to India (south east Asia). Typically henna plants grow in a hot climate.
The dye binds to the keratin in your skin, which creates a permanent stain. Don’t worry — as your skin exfoliates away, so does the henna stain. However, as long as you follow our aftercare advice, you can expect your results to last for about one to three weeks. Some of my clients always ask if they last under shower and the answer is yes. It stains your skin and stays for one to three weeks. It a safe, semi- permanent body art.
I use the organic dried, powdered leaf of the henna plant and combine it with distilled/ purified water, essential oils (cajeput or lavender and sweet orange), and sugar to create the right texture for successful body art designs.
Process and Instruction
Before starting the process I advise my clients to wash their body part where they would like to apply the henna. It is because lotion, oil, dirt or sweat can create a barrier between the henna staining process. Once the body area is dry then I start applying the henna. In between my henna application I check for any reaction that may occur. I only use organic henna but some people still may have reaction. If you are on a medication or medical observation sometimes you may have reaction or your henna stain might not be as expected. I always ask clients if they are having henna for the first time or they have done henna art before. If they have done before then I also inquire about their experience with it including the staining progression.
After finishing the application I ask my client to keep their henna as long as possible but not less than 4 hours. Henna is a natural body staining art and it changes color several times during its peak and fading phases. The longer anyone will keep the henna will turn out the darkest and will also last the longest. Once the henna dries (typically dries in 20- 30 minutes) then I suggest clients to apply lemon juice and sugar sealant. This helps henna from cracking earlier and let it stick to your skin for longer period of time. I carry the sealant with me but I also give instructions to clients who wants to do by themselves at home. This is like a special magic potion for your henna to get darker and last longer.
After the top crusty part of henna flakes off then it leaves a bright orangish stain. I recommend client no to wash their henna-ed body area for at least eight hours. This will let the stain getting darker. However you may use Coconut oil, olive oil, petroleum/ vaseline, shea butter or any alcohol free lotion. Do not use hand sanitizer since it may not let your henna get darker. Also, it dries your skin which may eventually shorten the lasting period of your henna design.
Henna may last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. In certain circumstances up to 4 weeks. It really depends on your aftercare instructions that I just discussed or based on your body area.
Palms- Typically these areas always get the darkest in short amount of time. However they do not last for a long time. Part of the reason because we use our palm for almost everything. Some people said using gloves help last little bit longer but I found it opposite. Also those who may have very dry palms may see it fades quicker than the others.
Back of your hands- Typically they last around 2 weeks. The finger tips may seem the one always fades quickly. It is because of how often you are washing your hands or scrubbing it.
Arms, Shoulder & Stomach- These area the henna last longer, however the henna stain typically comes out a lot lighter than rest of the body parts.
Feet & Legs- Typically last longer for me since I do not exfoliate or wash then often. The stain comes out typically dark in these areas.
Watch Out for Quick/ Chemical or Black Henna!
Henna is never black or white or any other color. Henna normally leave a orangish/brownish stain if you leave it for short period of time. But if you leave henna for the maximum period of time and follow the aftercare instructions then it should leave a dark cherry mahogany brownish tone.
Unfortunately a lot of the time clients mentioned that they had henna on the broad-walk by the beach and it was a quick gel type of texture. They mentioned that normally the stain comes out almost immediately but typically last for 2 or 3 days. It is heart breaking that a lot of these artists are poisoning people by knowingly or unknowingly. Typically these chemical henna are very easy to find in international grocery stores. Making an authentic organic henna paste is time consuming. It takes 24 to 48 hours to make the batch then tested out and lastly packaging and store it.
Always ask your artist what ingredients goes in the henna recipe. As I mentioned earlier I only use organic luxe grade henna, distilled/purified water, essential oil (cajeput or lavender and few drops of sweet orange) and sugar. Now some artist may choose orange juice, apple juice or even lemon juice instead of water. Some may also choose eucalyptus, tea tree, clove bud oil or even black pepper in their recipe. Now these are very common ingredients but may or may not suits you. If you sensitive to ingredients that I mentioned that you should inform the artist before hand to avoid any unpleasant experience.
Body Glitter & Mica powder
Glitters can be an extra additional fun to add on top of you henna. It is an optional choice for you and your guests. Normally these glitters flakes off right after the top part comes off from your body. However glitter body art may last little longer (2-5 days) with appropriate body adhesive. They may last up to five days under water activities.
Mica powders are very similar to glitter instead they are much finer like dust. They can be applied with the same grade of body adhesive. People who wants colorful henna alternatives they may choose either options. Some artist use bio-degradable henna which is ever safer for our environment.
White Henna (Body Paint)
White henna became a trend since last few years. They are actually not henna. They are semi-permanent body paint that may last 2-7 days based on your care and usage. Normally my clients have used it for their photoshoot and wedding receptions.
Jagua A.K.A Black henna alternatives
Jagua is a fruit gel/ extract that stains body naturally. It is found in the Amazon Forest of Brazil. The fruit is called Jenipa Americana. Few tribes on the forest still use Jagua to decor their body. This fruit extract stains bluish/ blackish tone but it can be mixed with henna and dilute the tones in many different shades.
The staining process and aftercare is completely different than henna. So, you only have to leave the paste for 2 hours and wash it off with warm soapy water. So, after washing it you may not see any traces of the design. But, the stains will be visible as the time passes. But you will start to see the bold Jagua art within 8-12 hours after paste removals. It last almost same like henna. It is safe and 100% natural. However if you are allergic to berries then it is better to avoid it. It is berry category fruit so if you are allergic to berries then you may not be able to use it.
Swimming pool, Ocean Water and Henna
Pool water makes henna leaves faster because of the chlorine. You may use breathable wrap to cover your henna. This way henna may last longer and you do not have compromise the pool water.
Same strategy applies on the ocean water as well.
Henna loves all skin
Do you know henna can be very helpful for minor cuts. It has medicinal healing properties. Some of my clients always ask me if their henna will show up on their skin. And the answer is yes for most skin tone. Its all based on the aftercare instruction. If you want something really bold then Jagua can be a great alternative.