What is Henna?

What is henna?

Henna is a flowering plant and the only species of the Lawsonia genus. The English name “henna” comes from the Arabic word hinna. As we will discuss in a later article, the historical origins of henna are varied and diverse, ranging from origins in Egypt, India, Morocco, Rome, Spain, and Syria.

Questions of origins aside, today henna is widely available and cultivated throughout the world, and the term henna is now primarily used to refer to the dye that is prepared by using the crushed leaves of the shrub and used in henna temporary tattoos. Henna as an art form, or mehndi as it is called in the Sanskrit word mendhikā, starts with the henna leaves being ground into powder and then either lemon juice, tea, or water are added to make a paste. The paste is then used to dye hair, nails, skin, as well as some fabrics, including silk, wool, and leather.

How does henna stain the skin?

As a dye henna has been around since the Bronze Age; some mentions of henna as a dye go as far back as 400 AD. Recently, there has been a resurgence of henna for the art of mehndi, more commonly know as the temporary henna tattoos. In this method, the paste is prepared and placed on the skin in an intricate design for several hours (or in some cases even overnight). Because of its natural components, henna is completely safe for the skin. However, to err on the side of caution, one should first test henna on a small part of their skin before applying a larger piece (allergies to the plant are possible).

How long do henna tattoos last?

The henna tattoo can last from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on how long the dye is left on the skin, where on the skin it is placed, and individual skin types. Once on the skin the color can range from an orange to a dark brown color, again depending on skin location and type. Some oils can help ensure great skin staining qualities such as tea tree, eucalyptus, cajeput, or lavender. Also, remember that henna continues to darken three days after application; hence, it is normal to see an orange color after the paste dries and falls off. Once the dye has reached its height of color, the design will begin to fade. Keep in mind certain liquids and areas can speed up the fading process, ie: tattoos on hands can fade quicker from frequent wash, chlorinated water, soap, and other alkaline liquids.

Where to get a henna tattoo

Henna tattoos are popular in touristic places such as the beach, amusement parks and festivals. If those options are not available, you can create your own henna tattoos at home and at a fraction of the price using a Henna City temporary tattoo kit. These kits come complete with everything you need to create your own designs including stencil transfers for those of us who are… ahem! artistically challenged. And they are so easy to use.

Check out the following video to see how they work.