How to get the best henna stain...
Henna or Mehndi is an ancient art form dating back over 7,000 years. Lawsonia Inermis is the "henna plant". It originally grew in Egypt but can now be found across North Africa, The Middle East and Asia. It does not grow here in the U.S. Being an agricultural product, some crops can be better than others due to climate and region. Our importers take great care in finding the best crops for each year. The plant itself was originally used because of its medicinal properties. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and a natural sunscreen. People found that having henna stains on their hands kept their body temperatures lower in the desert climates. It evolved into beautiful designs that were used to mark important occasions.
The leaves of the henna plant are dried and crushed to fine powder. Then mixed with lemon juice, sugar and essential oils. I like sweet orange and cajuput. This process takes 24 hours and is done the day before henna is needed to ensure the best stain possible. The paste has "stainability" like grape juice or red wine. So, when put on the skin it stains that top layer. It is not painful at all but rather a very soothing/calming process. Stains generally last 1-2 weeks depending on where the design is and how it is cared for after wards...see below.
Each Henna Artist might have slight variations on this recipe but there should never be anything artificial in the paste. Please, always ask an artist if they made their own paste and what is in it exactly. Never get something called "Black Henna" which is not henna, but a chemical dye that is NOT skin safe. I only use all natural, safe ingredients.
Beautiful Henna Body Art...
When you get a new henna design, the paste will be wet like toothpaste and will take 15-30 minutes to dry to the touch depending on design and outside temperature.
~do not touch it and be careful of others bumping into it so it doesn't smear
~keep the paste on the skin as long as possible...2-4 hours is good and 6-8 is
~do not wash or get the paste wet...avoid water the first 24 hours if possible
~the paste dries like mud so resist the urge to flake it off early
~keep the area warm...henna loves heat...get in the sun or near a heater
~after enough time, the paste can be removed by scraping, rubbing or using
olive oil on a cottonball or paper towel...best done outside or over a trashcan
~the stain will be a light/bright orange for the first 24 hours
~it takes 2-3 days for the stain to get dark
~to keep your stain longer you want to do things that delay exfoliation
~do not scrub, rub or shave the design
~use a natural oil (such as olive) or balm on the stain before and after
~avoid products with chemicals (lotions, cleaning, swimming pools, etc)