How do you find good henna?

There are THREE major things to considering when trying to find good henna.

First of all, you want to know the year of harvest of the henna crop.  Henna is usually good for about 2 years, however, the fresher the henna powder, the better it is.  Henna gets harvested in the summer months of June to October, so a fresh crop of the current year will become available after the harvest.  Depending on what country and region the henna comes from, the henna will have a different harvest date.  If there is no date of harvest on the henna package, it does not necessarily mean that the henna is bad, however, you will have no way of identifying it without purchasing the product.  While the henna powder is generally good for about 2 years, it is best to also consider the storing conditions of the powder.  Henna powder should be kept out of direct sunlight in a cool, dark place.  Extreme temperatures or direct sunlight will make the henna go stale much quicker, and you may have bad henna on hand even if it has been less than 2 years. 

Secondly,  be sure of the sift of the henna powder.  Henna powder for body art needs to be super finely sifted.  It's important to have a triple or quadruple sift for body art otherwise, larger plant pieces will clog your applicator.  A coarser sift is just fine for natural hair dye applications.  Be sure that you know how the henna is sifted before purchasing it for your purpose.  If you want to use the henna powder just for hair dye, it is not necessary to purchase triple sifted quality powder, as it is may be a bit more expensive.  And vice versa--purchase the more expensive powder for body art applications since a little henna goes a long ways.  

Third, be sure you know where the henna originates.  While this is more important for body art applications, it is important to know what part of the world your henna comes from.  In body art applications, stringy henna, which has a tendency to be really silky and slimy is good for certain styles of applications.  This type of henna usually comes from the Rajasthan region of India.  Indian henna usually requires about 6-8 hours to have dye release at room temperature (about 76 degrees Fahrenheit; 24 degrees Celsius).    On the other hand, a less silky henna comes from the Middle East region of the world, from Morocco and Yemen.  While the henna from this region tends to be less stringy and slimy, it still allows you to do long, draping techniques in body art applications.  Henna from this region of the world in general also has a faster dye release, generally about 2-4 hours at room temperature.  And a third region of the world is henna from Pakistan.  Typically, henna from this region is not as silky and slimy, and has a little bit of a coarser consistency.  The powder from this region is perfect for beginners for body art, with a dye release of about 8-10 hours.  

Things to remember:
--henna is perishable and can go stale
--proper storage and away from direct sunlight is crucial to keep henna fresh
--the fresher the henna crop, the better the dye quality
--triple sifted henna powder should be used for body art applications
--coarse henna powder is okay to use for natural hair dye applications
--henna has different dye releases depending on what region of the world it comes from
--henna powders from different parts of the world will have different consistencies
--when in doubt, try a small batch of henna powder to test for quality.

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