Henna is a natural botanical used throughout the world as a harmless, non-toxic body-dye. Traditionally used in ceremonies (brides in many countries are often covered with elaborate henna designs), henna-decorating is a holdover from an ancient time when the female body was considered sacred. Today, you can have henna-decorating parties with friends and children, or make decorating yourself a special, private ritual.
Itís fun to decorate with henna. Here are a few easy steps to get you started, including what kind of henna to buy:
While there are many prepared henna kits on the market today, you can save money buying powdered henna in bulk. Be sure to get mehndi henna, intended for use in body art, not hair dye henna. It will be a finer grade with fewer twigs and leaf fragments.
This perfect-every-time recipe combines just the right ingredients to ensure richly-colored, long-lasting henna designs.
HENNA PASTE RECIPE
2 heaping tablespoons pure henna powder, sifted
Juice of 2 lemons or limes, strained to remove pulp
Brewed coffee or tea
1. Add the citrus juice to the henna powder a little at a time, stirring until the mix is similar in consistency to mashed potatoes. Let sit overnight.
2. Next morning, stir a little coffee or tea into the paste until the consistency is lump-free and a bit softer than toothpaste. Cover and let sit until evening.
3. Test paste consistency by making patterns with a toothpick or cone on a paper towel. If too thick, add a little coffee or tea. If too thin, add a little henna powder.
Your henna designs will last for several weeks, gradually fading over time. If you make a mistake in your design, simply remove excess henna with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Henna may be applied using a flat-edged toothpick or matchstick, a small, disposable pastry piping tube, a plastic cone or bag with a small hole, or dabbed onto vinyl or paper stencils.
You may want to experiment with designs on paper before you start, or you could let creativity be your guide.
After applying henna paste in designs on skin, allow the henna to dry for at least 1 to 3 hours. Remove the paste when youíre ready by applying oil, then gently scrape off excess dried paste with fingernails or a credit card. Avoid washing the area of the henna design for several hours. Henna designs last longer if you oil the skin every day.
Adapted from Henna from Head to Toe! by Norma Pasekoff Weinberg (Storey Books, 1999). Copyright (c) 1999 by Norma Pasekoff Weinberg. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from Henna from Head to Toe! by Norma Pasekoff Weinberg (Storey Books, 1999).