An Education in Henna Art



What is henna art? Henna art is a form of nonpermanent body art that stains the skin using a henna powder paste. This paste is created using henna powder, lemon juice and essential oils. This combination of ingredients is then put into a cello cone to make it easier to apply intricate designs to the skin. The paste sits on the skin for a period of time and over this time period the paste begins to stain the skin creating a beautiful reddish orange color on the skin that lasts for 1-4 weeks.


Where does henna art come from? Henna art originated over 5000 years ago in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East. Though its exact origins are unknown, it is believed to have been first used in the hot desert to help protect and cool oneself against the hot desert sun. It then evolved into what it is today. Used primarily for decoration on brides and grooms prior to the wedding it was also used on pregnant women prior to childbirth. Over the years henna art took hold in North America as a form of expression and temporary body art; but the traditions remain as does the original body art designs. 


Are there different types of henna body art? Yes there are many different types. There are a few traditional types as well as more modern ones as well. Henna art has a lot of tradition behind it but it has evolved over time to include more modern touches and placement on the body. Mehndi is traditional henna body art typically placed on the hands, arms, feet and legs. Arabic designs are asymmetrical consisting of a lot of open space between and within the design, as well as lots of florals. Moroccan designs are geometric in design consisting of a lot of straight lines and powerful symbols. Gulf or Khaleeji designs consist of a play of white space, dense motifs, bold florals and unique placements and composition. Then there is modern henna body art which is open to design and interpretation.


Are there different colors of henna?

For body art: Natural henna comes only in one colour- reddish brown. This colour will change depending on skin tone, henna recipe, how long the henna was left on the skin for, skin type, and even hormones. However, with the addition of jagua, you are able to achieve a range of colours, from reddish brown, mocha brown, blueish black.


For hair dye: Natural henna comes only in one colour- reddish brown. This colour will change in intensity depending on hair type, henna recipe, how long the henna was left in the hair for, and even hormones. However, with the addition of ingredients like cassia or indigo, you are able to achieve a range of colours, from strawberry blonde, reddish brown, auburn, ginger red, to blueish black.


There is also something called "white henna", though it is not made from actual henna, but rather a temporary body paint. It is often used to create intricate designs which look amazing and are very temporary.










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