Henna Application and Care

Tools
Skin Preparation
Lemon Sugar
Letting your henna set
Henna paste removal
How the henna stain fades away
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Application with a stick.
Image from
The Timeless Art of Henna Painting

Jacquard bottle use.
Image from
The Timeless Art of Henna Painting

Using a plasitc bag cone.
Image from
Traditinal Mehndi Designs

Tools:

The traditional instrument used for applying henna is a stick. The more modern and easier applicators include Jacquard bottles and plastic bags.

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Skin Preparation:

Be sure that the area to be hennaed is well washed and devoid of lotions or other oily substances. Henna tends to draw the heat away from the body, so it is good to have some kind of heat source near by. A hair drier may be used to quickly dry henna while adding warmth.

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Lemon Sugar:

Lemon sugar is an important part of the henna process. In a little bit of lemon juice (enough to cover the bottom of a small bowl), add enough sugar to make the concoction syrupy and sticky. Dab the lemon sugar onto the dried henna design with a cotton ball. The lemon sugar 1) helps to remoisturize/reactivate the henna, 2) helps to seal the henna which prevents it from flaking off so quickly, and 3) a little extra acid never hurts to bring out the color of the henna.

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Letting your henna set:

The longer you let your henna set, the darker the stain will be. It is best if you can leave your henna on over night. In order to keep parents or significant others from complaining about henna crumbs incrusted in your bed sheets, make sure to wrap your henna up in toilet paper. You can put a sock over your mummied appendage if you wish to secure it even more (be warned, henna stains organic matter, including clothing and bed sheets!). Wrapping your design is good to do even if you are not planning to fall asleep. The many layers not only prevent henna flakes from appearing all over your home, but more importantly it will also help to keep you and your henna warm. Extra warmth ensures a darker, richer color. Please note, only wrap your henna after it has dried and has become hard!! If you wrap it before it is thoroughly dried it will only smear your design and you will be very disappointed when you take the wrap off. For those who are unable to leave their henna on over night, 2 hours is the minimal amount of time required for decent red stain, but it is better to wrap the design and keep it for at least 4 hours for darker results.

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Henna paste removal:

Once you are ready to remove the dried henna paste DO NOT WASH IT OFF! Scrape it off with a toothpick, back of a plastic knife, a fingernail, or some other dull scraping instrument. After you have removed most of the dried henna you can gently rinse your skin clean with tepid water. Do not use soap! You should try to keep your hennaed skin away from soap and water for at least 24 hours after the removal of the dried henna. After you have rinsed and pat-dried your skin, treat it to a healthy moisturizing dose of lotion or oil (like extra virgin olive oil).

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How the henna stain fades away:

Henna only stains the layers of dead skin cells. As time passes your skin will naturally exfoliate, and your henna design will gradually fade away. The more wear and tear you put on your skin, the faster your henna will disappear. The more you wash the area, or if you work with that area a lot (as in the case of hands), the skin will wear down rapidly and the henna will fade quickly (it is interesting to note the pattern of wear). Chemical reactions can also cause rapid fading, so beware of cleaning solutions, chlorine, and other common household chemicals.

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