What is henna? Henna is a powder used for dying that comes from the Lawsonia inermis plant; also known as the Henna plant, mignonette tree or Egyptian privet.This plant is found in the hot dry climates of Southeast Asia and has been used for thousands of years in southeastern cultures, but is gaining traction and popularity in North America. Henna is typically for body art but can also be used to dye fingernails and hair.
There are different types of henna, such as Cassia, Amla and Indigo. These different types of henna can be used to create different colors of henna body art and hair color. However, be careful of black henna which contains PPD (para-phenylenediamine), as it is illegal and damaging, causing harm to skin and hair when used.
Henna is used in many different types of body art. Typically used on the hands and feet, but it can also be used on the face and belly during pregnancy. Henna is also not just for women, men use it as well for body art or beard dye. Henna is a semi-permanent dye lasting 1-3 weeks typically but can last longer depending on your skin and how much you wash and exfoliate. Henna hair dye lasts 4-6 weeks of course once again depending on how much you wash your hair and the products and styling tools you use.
The henna powder that is made from the dried and ground Lawsonia inermis plant leaves is made into a paste, usually using lemon juice and essential oils to help bring out the pigment or lawsone, and is then applied to the skin in intricate designs. However, when using the paste to dye hair lemon juice is not recommended as it can damage the hair, so warm water and black tea are used instead.
The designs created are important as they represent a history and traditions dating back thousands of years. These designs are different in different cultures but the message behind them is the same. They are used in weddings, special occasions, for blessings, for luck, engagements and nowadays just for fun as a form of art, decoration and expression.
No matter what you use henna for, have fun with it. Enjoy the culture behind it. And embrace the beauty within.