In the last few days we’ve been obsessing on henna at REN ladies center, creating different designs for various occasions Which reminded me of my life in the Middle-east; we wore henna for every celebration and especially weddings and engagement parties but sometimes when girls got together we had henna done as part of entertainment. The designs varied from simple lines, letters, flowers to intricate elegant floral patterns and abstracts. Always envied the girls whose henna got really deep reddish-brown and color obsession was a trend which lead to different henna mixes; chemicals were included to make it darker or even black. Which also enticed manufacturers to come up with different brands, worse of which is the black henna which often contains harmful parabens that can result to severe allergic reaction.
Luckily, I have seen many concoctions of henna from Arabic, Afghani, Somali, Sudanese to Pakistani and Indian, some of them resulted to beautiful shades but itchy skin and some of them turned out beautifully, naturally. We’ve been growing henna in our backyard for generations; for personal use as hair dye/body-art as well as for sale to henna artists. In this post I share some tips I heard over and over from my mother when she sold henna and from friends that are common but good to always keep in mind.
1. A good henna paste is all natural, shouldn’t have any chemical smell and shouldn’t itch. Traditionally we create our henna paste by missing the powder with a strong black tea and and a few drops of lemon but I’ve seen that just the henna itself can get pretty intense.
2. Before applying henna wash your skin to get rid of any oils.
3. Let the henna paste dry off completely then wet it several times and let it dry off; sleep overnight if you can for a richer shade.
4. Don’t take off the dried henna with water rather rub it off and follow with an oil such as coconut, olive, almond…
5. The color depends as the henna becomes oxidized so watch it become richer with time. It is a good idea to apply henna 72hrs before an occassion and stay off water and detergents that can reduce it- bacterial hand-washes are notorious.
Different skin dyes differently so if you don’t get the shade you desire; apply and reapply-usually done for the bride to make sure that the she gets a deep shade that would last longer usually over 2 weeks and over a month on the nails- makes sense?
Do you wear henna?