I've always wanted a tattoo....but I know it's not going to happen. I'll admit it, I'm a chicken. The idea of a needle injecting my
skin with ink over and over again....no thank you. But I do love tattoos...good thing there's henna or mehndi!
You've probably seen henna tattoo shops and stands popping up at places like the the boardwalk, theme parks, and even malls. It's becoming increasingly popular and for good reason.
Henna is a natural and actually rather good for you way to create something unique on your skin. It's a very modern and hip thing to do but it certainly isn't something new.
What Exactly is Henna?
Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) is a woody shrub that thrives in hot and arid climates. The fragrant and delicate flowers of the henna plants have been used in perfume since ancient times. The leaves of the plant, once harvested, dried and ground into a fine powder, are made into a paste using water and natural oils. This paste can be applied to the body as a cooling agent, to the hair as a natural hair color or to the skin or nails to dye them. The intricate designs of mehndi are created by putting the paste into a paper or foil cone with the tip cut off. It is then used much like a pen to create the lines of this beautiful art form. The paste is left on for several hours to allow it to stain the skin. Once the dried paste is removed, you can see the orange or maroon stain left behind. This is your mendhi design.
A LIttle History
The art of mehndhi has been practiced in Pakistan, India, Africa and the Middle East for over 5000 years. Some historians believe even longer than that...9000 years. Initially, it was used as a cooling agent; the paste was applied to the soles of the feet to cool their bodies. A pattern was left in the skin from this practice and gradually, the idea of using it for skin decoration was born.
Brides are traditionally decorated with henna on their hands and feet for their wedding. I had this done when I got married. Wanna see some pics? Here you go! Pretty awesome isn't it?
SOON AFTER BEING APPLIED:
AFTER PASTE WAS REMOVED:
Nowadays, you can get just about any kind of pattern or design done, in a variety of styles.
Good for me how?
The cooling nature of this paste is fantastic for skin in the summer. It feel so good! And, BONUS...it's a natural sunblock! I can attest to this; on my honeymoon, when my mehndi faded, I had the design on my skin still...in the form of untanned skin! The skin that didn't have any mehndi on it tanned like normal and the spots that were dyed remained my untanned, pale skin. It's actually a funny story because I didn't realize this and at first when I started to notice the lighter patches of skin as my mehndhi faded, I thought I had gotten some wierd skin disease or something! Then I noticed the pattern was the same as my henna and the skin was merely just untanned! Phew! Those were a scary couple of minutes! :)
There are several henna pastes out there that are not natural. There is black henna, as well as different colored henna and even glitter henna. Those are NOT the ones we are talking about here; they are usually a totally different chemical or chemical added to henna; these are not good for you in the way natural henna is.
If you want your henna to be a darker color, you need to keep you skin very warm and dry. You can apply a sugar water to the paste while it's on your skin or even lemon juice. Water will make it fade so more your design gets wet, the sooner it will go away.
Want to see some nice henna designs? Check out my Pinterest board where I save designs I like here.