Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Natural henna creates a beautiful reddish/brownish stain on the body and has been used for thousands of years for therapeutic reasons, beautification, as well as rituals, rites of passage, and celebrations.
Bridal henna is one such practise that is beloved in many cultures and countries in the world. Intricate designs are applied to a bride's hands and feet before her wedding day and, historically it is said, the darker the stain the stronger the love between the husband and wife. Therefore, traditionally throughout history, women have wanted get as deep a henna stain as possible. Not only is the colour rich and exquisite when it is at its darkest, but the stain lasts a long time as well.
So what is the secret to getting a natural rich, dark henna stain?
1. Good Quality Product
First and foremost it is important to use good quality henna powder. When making henna paste yourself make sure to purchase from suppliers who import unadulterated henna powder from reputable sources and who store their powder in a cool, dry place away from light.
If buying pre-mixed henna paste, make sure to look for natural, chemical-free paste. At its basic henna paste should only contain good quality henna powder, lemon juice or water, sugar, and some kind of essential oil that is safe for use on skin such as lavender, tea tree, or cajeput. Again, it should either have been freshly made or been stored properly prior to purchasing.
A note on chemical henna: unfortunately most pre-made henna cones available these days are full of alarming ingredients. Check out my website for more information on safety: www.hennaplanet.ca/safety
2. Leave the Henna Paste on for Six to Eight Hours (the longer, the better)
Once the henna design has been applied to the skin and the henna paste has dried (15-20 minutes), LEAVE IT ON! The longer the paste is left on, the darker and longer lasting the stain will become.
Many people think they can remove the paste after half an hour or once it is dry. Actually, the henna needs to remain in contact with the skin for many hours in order to penetrate down deep into the layers of dead skin cells that make up the top section of the epidermis. This is what will create the stain, and the deeper it is able to seep into the skin, the darker it will become and the longer it will last.
3. Seal the Henna Paste
As henna paste dries it tends to crack and fall off. However, because the henna paste needs to stay on as long as possible, a lemon/sugar mixture can help seal the paste to the skin and prevent it from falling off during the eight hours.
Please visit my website for the recipe and instructions: www.hennaplanet.ca/lemon-sugar-sealant
4. Heat and/or Wrap the Henna Paste
Appy heat by gently steaming the paste (careful not to scald yourself), using a hair dryer, sitting in front of a fire etc. The warmer your body temperature, the darker the stain will become.
Wrap the design with a tensor bandage, old scarf or sock or anything else you don't mind getting stained. Not only will this help to keep the area warm, but it will also prevent dried henna bits from falling off, especially if you are wearing the paste in bed over night.
5. Protect the Stain....
Water: once you are ready to remove the paste, scrape or pick it off, never use water. Initially the stain will be light orange and will darken to a beautiful red/brown over 2-3 days. Water will inhibit this colour changing process. However, natural oils such as olive and coconut, applied to the stain before bathing can help to protect the stain from water. Consider using rubber gloves when washing dishes as well.
Creams, lotions, sunscreens, etc.: anything that will cause exfoliation of the skin, especially products with alcohol and petroleum.
Now that you know how to get as dark a stain as possible, you are ready for your henna design!
For more information visit check out henna planet videos on Youtube or visit www.hennaplanet.ca.