What is Henna?

Henna is a plant. It is a flowering shrub, Lawsonia Inermis, which grows in hot dry climates. Henna has traditional medicinal uses, but most often is prized for it’s natural dye. The dried and powdered leaves are mixed with water or a mild acid, such as lemon juice or tea to activate the dye within the plant. Mehndi (meh-hen-dee) is the term for applying henna as body art. Henna paste is applied to the skin, and let to dry. When the paste falls off, a stain remains where the paste was applied as a beautiful design. While henna art appears in many cultures around the world, it is  generally associated with India, North Africa and the Middle East where the plant grows. Mehndi (henna art) is traditionally applied at festivals and for special events, such as weddings.

How long will it take to dry?

Your design should be dry in about 30-45 minutes. It is best to leave the paste on the skin as long as possible to get the darkest and longest lasting stain. You need not remove it, the paste will fall off on its own in a few hours. You can use sugar/lemon sealant or surgical tape over dried henna paste to keep it on longer (overnight works well) for the deepest stain. If you wash the paste off sooner, the design will be lighter and it will fade sooner.

How Long Will My Henna Art Last?

Henna is a natural dye; it colors the top layer of skin and fades as the skin exfoliates. How long your design will last depends on how fast you exfoliate, so where the art is placed on the body makes a difference. Palms of the hands and soles of the feet have the thickest skin, so designs placed there last longest; two weeks or more is common. Most henna art on hands, arms, legs and feet will last about a week to ten days. Henna on the very thin skin of the chest or shoulder will usually last about five days. Once the paste is removed, the stain is on the skin and cannot be scrubbed off. No chemicals will remove it. Swimming in chlorine pools or frequent use of hand sanitizer will speed up the exfoliation process so the stain will fade faster.

Is Henna Safe?

True henna is very safe. It can be used on children and pregnant women. I have never heard of a skin reaction to real henna. The plant itself is actually good for skin, and has been used medicinally in treating burns. It is very important to know what your henna has been mixed with. Some mixes are dangerous and should be avoided. My mix varies but I can always tell you exactly what is in the cone I am using. Typical ingredients are waater, lemon juice, black tea, tamarind paste, sugar and essential oils.

What Colors Do You Have?

Mehndi comes in one color only…brown. True henna paste is made from the dried and powdered leaves of the lawsonia plant and mixed with water or a mild acid (often tea or lemon juice) to activate the plant’s natural dye. Sweeteners like sugar or honey may be added to help the paste adhere to the skin longer (causing a darker stain) and essential oils may be added as well to improve stain quality and provide a pleasant smell. Henna paste is bright green when wet, and will dry to a dark brown paste on the skin. When it falls off, the resulting stain will be bright orange, and will darken over the next 12-36 hours to a rich cocoa brown. Henna artists are creative with their mixes and may use varied ingredients such as tea, tamarind juice, and different herbs and spices or essential oils. It is very important to ask a henna artist where their paste comes from, and if they mix it themselves. Asking these questions will help you to avoid exposure to allergens, volatile oils (such as thyme) or unsafe ingredients. Henna should never be mixed with inks of any kind, especially not commercial inks. Even inks used in tattooing are not necessarily safe, and may cause allergic reactions in some people. I do apply cosmetic grade glitter to the wet henna paste. This adds color and sparkle while your design is drying but it will fall off when the paste falls off.

What About Black Henna?

So called “black henna” is NOT traditional henna. It contains chemicals which can cause serious (even permanent) damage to skin. “Black Henna” often contains PPD…a commercial dye used in hair color and should never ever be used on skin. If you see a sign advertising “black henna” walk the other way. Natural traditional henna has an earthy scent, and many artists add essential oils to the paste. It should smell good. If henna smells like ammonia or other chemicals, find a different artist for your design.

Do You Use Templates?

No. Sparkle Body Art is freehand only. We make them up as we  go, so we  don’t have a library of designs to choose from. We are familiar with a broad range of styles, from traditional Indian to Arabic to Tribal. My personal style has been called “Indo European” and “Modern Freeform Organic”. If you have an existing image you want me to copy, just bring it with you. Generally otherwise I will work with you to create a unique design, especially for you.