A How To Guide for Henna and Jagua Newbies

So, you’re totally new to henna body art and you’re excited to get practicing. Welcome to the club! Creating temporary tattoos with henna and jagua is a fun new world to dive into, with much potential… what starts off as a swirl turns into a career for some!

However simple or ambitious your goals are, know that you have nothing to lose in trying your hand at body art. When you’ve never done it before, it can seem a little overwhelming… it seems like there’s a lot to it, but with time and practice, you’ll be a dab hand.

Step 1: The products

The first step is to get your hands on some henna, or jagua gel. At Henna City we are advocates of pure, natural products. That means our products are BAQ (body art quality) and completely safe.

Our second consideration is ease of application. You may have seen professionals mixing their own pastes and use cones, but that isn’t necessary; our prep-free tattoo kits take all the guess work out of it. This makes them perfect for newbies, as they have different sized applicators and are designed to simplify your experience. Henna artists often use our kits too!

Step 2: Practice makes perfect

So you’ve got your henna or jagua gel ready; it’s time to create. Although you may have found a willing victim, we recommend practicing on paper and/or yourself first. There can be no comeback from that! It’s entirely up to you, though.

When you squeeze the bottle you might accidentally squeeze out too much; you might not squeeze hard enough, leaving gaps and wavering lines. This way, you’ve got a chance to test your skills and designs without errors; it’s important, as once the product is on your skin, it quickly stains.

Have you mastered how hard you need to squeeze? Which applicators you need for which designs? You’re sure that your hand is steady enough for the real deal? You’re good to go.

Step 3: Choose a design

When flicking through beautiful henna designs online, it’s easy to be captivated by unfathomably intricate body art. You may envisage these designs on your skin, and although it’s possible, it’s best to aim for simplicity the first few times.

Traditional henna designs are often heavily detailed, which takes practice. One thing to remember is that all henna designs are comprised of simple and tiny shapes. Once you master the shapes and positions, you can move on to more detailed designs. 

For your first tattoo, perhaps try making a big circle and filling it with little shapes. Flowers, lines, stars, waves… whatever appeals. Vines are quite simple to create, so you could try one of those. Even the simplest henna designs can be striking.

Step 4: Consider a stencil

Not sure about freestyling? That’s normal. Once you have been applying henna or jagua gel for a while, you’ll feel comfortable doing so. At first this might be trickier than you think – even with more simple designs.

Consider making a stencil. You can do this easily at home, whether you want to print something from the net, or draw your own out.Follow our simple advice for creating your own body art stencils.

You may also like the idea of drawing a design lightly onto the skin with a non-toxic pen before you apply your henna. This is fine too.

Step 5: Prepare the skin

Let’s assume you’re going to use your non-dominant hand for the first tattoo; it’s more accessible than other body parts. The hand receiving the tattoo should be scrubbed clean of dirt and any oils that may be on the surface of the skin.

If you think that you can keep your hand completely still for a few hours afterwards, you could try a palm tattoo. The palms respond well to henna and jagua gel, and they may retain the color for a longer period than the backs of the hands.

Once the skin is clean and patted dry, you can apply your stencil (if needed) and start your tattoo. It also helps to have a few q-tips handy for those inevitable wobbles – the faster you remove a smudge, the more likely your design is to come out intact. In the event that you make a mistake, dampen a q-tip and correct it.

Step 6: Create your tattoo

It makes sense to work from the center outwards. When you’re new to henna or jagua gel, you might accidentally smudge your design. This is less likely to happen if you’re moving away from it.

It also helps to lay down the largest parts of your design first. You can then add the smaller details in at the end, which is particularly helpful when freestyling. Little dots when strategically placed really make a simple design pop.

Lastly, remember that different areas of skin react differently to henna and jagua. Where you have creases in the skin, the design can be interrupted. Creases will absorb more color, which might also bleed a little. Problem areas tend to be wrists and knuckles, so handle with care and allow for this when choosing a design.

If you want to know how to best look after your design, we’ve got a few tips for you… and that’s about it.We wish you luck with your first designs!Feel free to contact us for advice, and follow our social media for design ideas and competitions.