Top Ten Things You Should Know About Henna

If you have never had henna in your life, you might be feeling a little uneasy, uncertain and uneducated.  Not to fear... Henna Art is here!

Here are 10 things you should know about henna!

ONE, and most importantly..... There is no such thing as “black henna.” Black henna is a term given to a harsh phosphorus based chemical, often used in hair dyes, called PPD (para-phenylenediamine). This is actually a skin irritant which can cause lifelong scarring, blistering, skin irritation, and is a potential carcinogen. The reason people use this chemical is because the stain gives a tattoo look within 30 minutes. However, what they don’t realize is that the application of this chemical can cause permanent scars.  Black henna is a lie--it does not exist!  Black henna is not safe, not recommended, and not allowed to be used!!

TWO While we are talking about being safe.... The henna paste should be prepared with natural products only. Henna should only be mixed with liquids such as water, lemon or lime juice, teas, and other acidic juices. While liquids like ammonia, turpentine, paint thinner, kerosene etc. help release the dye quickly, they are unsafe for the skin and should not be applied to the skin. The henna paste may include essential oils, but be cautious when there are essential oils in the paste. These must be pure essential oils and not alcohol based fragrance oils.  While most essential oils are okay to use on the skin, oils like clove or lemon may cause sensitivities.  Always ask your artist what ingredients are in the henna paste.

THREE, henna goes onto the skin in the form of a wet paste, much like mud.  The paste must stay on your skin for as long as possible without contact with water.  The longer the henna paste stays on your skin, the deeper the stain will be.  Leave the henna paste on your skin for as long as possible!

FOUR, While we are on the topic of the henna stain... the stain can last on the skin from 3 days to 3 weeks or longer. Get your henna design on your body in places like the hands, arms, feet and legs. Henna stains these areas the best because they have the most layers of skin (dermis). Henna likes to penetrate through the various layers of the dermis. The more layers there are, the deeper the molecule will penetrate.  If you want to show off your henna and have a deep stain, get your henna done on your hands, arms, legs or feet.

FIVE, henna needs 48 hours to have the stain peak.  This means, that you should get your henna done at least 2 days before you want to show it off.  The stain will get darker once you wash off the henna paste.  This is when the stain is oxidizing. Get your henna done 2 days before your event!

SIX, If there are any enemies of henna, it's water. Stay away from water for as long as possible. You want to make sure that the area of application does not touch water for the first 24 hours in order to get a nice dark stain. While sometimes it is necessary to wash the area of application, apply an aftercare balm or moisture rich oils like argan oil or olive oil to protect the design. Stay away from mineral oil/baby oil and petroleum based products. Yes, that's right--getting henna done gives you a chance to stop doing housework!  Avoid water and chemicals as long as you can!

SEVEN, Exfoliate the skin BEFORE getting henna done.  Because henna sticks to the layers of skin, you want to make sure you keep your layers of skin on for as long as possible.  This means getting your manicures and pedicures done before getting your henna done.  Yes, you can shave after you have had your henna, but be sure to get your waxing done BEFORE the henna.  You can go UV tanning before OR after you have the henna done, but be sure to get spray tanning done AFTER you have henna.  Spray tanning basically sticks a chemical on your skin (the tan), which makes the henna paste hard to penetrate into your layers of skin.  All in all:  manicures, pedicures, waxing BEFORE henna; spray tanning AFTER henna.

EIGHT, taking care of your henna body art is just as important as getting it done.  Follow the instructions your artist gives you--while many old wives tales will tell you different things, it is best to follow your artists' instructions.  Typically, your artist will recommend you to apply an aftercare solution to help the henna stick on the skin.  Aftercare solutions will range from water/lemon juice/hydrosol and sugar combinations, to water-downed honey/molasses/sugar syrups.  You are basically putting sugar, a natural ingredient, on your skin to keep the henna paste on your skin for longer.  While this is not required as an aftercare application, most artists prefer to have you apply this solution once your henna paste has dried to the touch.  Follow the aftercare instructions your artist gives you.

NINE, henna is not religious, so you are not offending anyone if you are getting it done.  It is a cultural idea, used at times of celebration. Sometimes, these celebrations include religious holidays, but also include childbirth, weddings, coming of age, and re-integration into society after death in the family. You can choose any design for application. Some Muslims prefer not to have animals in their designs, while Indians love to use peacocks in their designs.  While some people put a lot of thought into the henna design they would like to get, most people just go with the flow and give the artist creative freedom.  Henna is an unique form of art that has transcended cultural boundaries, and is accepted as a modern art form

TEN, Perhaps this fact should be up top, but is a must know for henna body art.  You should ALWAYS get your henna done by a professional artist (or professional aspiring artist).  A professional knows the history, application, techniques, and safety of henna.  They make their own paste, know how to apply henna efficiently, will have the knowledge about certain designs, know henna backgrounds, and have a wealth of knowledge about henna body art.  Professional henna artists do henna for a living, so they have great motivation to make sure they are doing an excellent job on you and giving you the best henna experience.  So instead of opting for a cheap henna experience, choose an artist that is professional so you can have a true henna experience.