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Henna (Lawsonia inermis) also known as hina is a flowering plant that grows 12-15 feet tall, originating from a species of the Lawsonia genus. The English name henna is from the Arabic ‘hinna’. Henna itself refers to the dye prepare from the henna plant and the art of temporary tattooing using such dyes. Henna has been used for centuries to dye skin, hair, fingernails and fabrics such as silk, wool and leather.
The henna plant contains lawsone which is a reddish-orange dye that binds to the keratin (a protein) in your skin to safely stain it. The initial stain is pumpkin orange, once developed the stain can vary from cherry red, to almost black depending on the quality of the henna and how well your skin takes to it. A good quality henna from hot, dry climates will stain the darkest.
With many of our families migrating to the western world, we have continued to practice traditional rituals during wedding festivities. Over time, with the growing union of our eastern and western cultures, much of our history has been lost as to why such practices are still continued.
The art of henna is one of the 16 beauty treatments (Solah Shrigar) for any Indian bride-to-be. The covering of a bride’s hands and feet with henna is not just for its aesthetics, but it also has a much deeper meaning to the entire marriage process. Historically, mehndi nights were held to calm the bride’s nerves before her big day. As henna has calming properties it was applied to the hands and feet as these areas were the most receptive to staining. In today’s modern era, this function has evolved to become an additional day of celebrations leading up to the wedding.
Henna is considered to be auspicious and seen as an aphrodisiac with sexual/fertility connotations, helping newlywed brides during the nuptial night. This was especially significant during the time of our predecessors, as marriages would’ve been arranged and often brides would be meeting their husbands for the first time at the wedding altar.
The significance of having the groom’s name hidden within the intricacies of the henna helped break the tension between the newlyweds during their nuptial night.
- 33g henna powder
- 10ml essential oil of your choice (from lavender, cajeput, teatree and eucalyptus)
- Water or lemon juice depending on your preference (lemon juice can be an irritant on sensitive skin)
- 15g white sugar
- Measure out all the ingredients
- Mix the sugar and henna powder together
- Add your desired liquid and essential oil and mix until the consistency is similar to toothpaste. Once achieved, cover with Clingfilm/Seran Wrap and leave in a warm place for 12 hours if you’re using water or 24 hours if you’re using lemon juice. There may be some lumps still but these will dissolve as the paste dye releases. If you are in a pinch you can warm up your mixing liquid and your paste will be ready within 4-5 hours.
- After this time, check your paste for dye release, and indication that dye release has happened is the top of paste will be a darker colour than the paste in the middle of the bowl when mixing.
- Adjust the paste to your desired consistency and strain through stockings/tights to remove any fine particles and air which would disrupt the flow of your cone.
- Cone up to paste and use immediately.
- If you are not going to be using the paste immediately, then please store the cones in a freezer which will last up to 6 months.
The staining occurs due to a process known as oxidation, whereby the dye on your skin reacts with the oxygen in the air to deepen the colour. This reaction takes place approximately 24-48 hours after the paste removal. Therefore it is crucial to avoid water for the first 24 hours, as water will hinder the oxidation process.
Results will vary depending on the location of your body, the strongest colour generally comes on your palms and soles of your feet as the thicker skin found here allows the dye to penetrate deeper.
Staining will also differ from person to person due a variety of factors such as, your blood pressure, whether you are on any medication and the environment.
- If waxing, wax 2 days prior to the application as the oils from waxing can create a barrier between your skin and the paste, leading to less than optimal stain
- Manicures and pedicures should be done prior to the application
- Do not moisturise your skin prior to application, this can also lead to a barrier between your skin and the paste, leading to less than optimal staining
- Your skin should be washed prior to application
(please read carefully as these are vital to the long-lasting effect of your henna)
- Remove using a blunt edge such as a credit card
- Do not allow contact between your skin and water for 24 hours after removal
- You can use coconut oil to loosen the design off your skin
- Pat any excess oil dry, do not rub after removing
- Keep warm during the application and after paste removal to optimise the stain results
- Keep your skin moisturised after paste removal to prevent dry skin as this can damage the design
- Minimise the use of your hands, particularly with water. Use gloves where possible and apply emollient moisturiser to the design
Have you ever heard the phrase “the darker the colour the more your mother in law loves you”? The reasoning behind this comes from our parents’ and grandparents’ time, where being a newlywed meant being treated tenderly and lovingly by the in laws. As weddings were arranged, the mother of the bride would be worried about her daughter as she would not know how the new in laws would treat her. With the bride being adorned in henna the mother could see how well she would be looked after at her new home. Was she spending time with her husband and the new family or being made to constantly carry out chores around the house. When the bride would go back to her maternal house for the final marriage ritual (Pag Phera), her mother could see if she was being treated affectionately by her mother in law by looking at her hands. If the henna was fading it meant that she has been doing chores and was being mistreated.
The tape is called Mefix. It is a medical adhesive tape used to keep the henna in place to ensure you obtain optimal results. This works by keeping the henna longer on your skin, thus resulting in a darker stain. The tape has to be used with caution as you need to ensure the henna is bone dry to avoid ruining your henna. This tape can be found on Amazon and Ebay worldwide.
Yes you can, I am available worldwide. Please see my services pages for further information.
Yes you can, please contact me to discuss further.
Yes and No
With white henna, it is not actually henna. It is a white body paint that is topically applied to the skin. This paint does not stain the skin and lasts between 1-3 days depending on the wear and tear of the area applied. This is suitable for someone who is fashion forward or is looking to have something done for just one day.
Black henna is not henna too. These cones are actually full of chemicals such as Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which are dangerous when in contact with skin. These cones can lead to rashes, chemical burns, permanent scaring and in extreme cases death. This is what you have often seen in the media, where people have been permanently scarred and burned due to the ill effects of these chemicals cones which have been falsely advertised as henna. I do not condone the use of black in my practice. However, there is a safe alternative to black henna which is jagua.
Jagua is a fruit extract from brazil. It is skin safe and works in a similar method to traditional natural henna. It works by staining the skin and lasts roughly the same amount of time as normal henna. Jagua stains the skin a black, blue-black, green-black, pruple-black depending on your skin and where the design has been applied.
Both white henna and jagua services are available upon special request. Please fill out a contact form with your requirements and I will be in contact with you soon.
Yes I do, please fill out a general contact form with your requirements and I will be in contact with you soon.