What is Henna?
Henna is a plant. The leaves of the plant are dried and then crushed into a powder. The powder is then made into a paste that when applied to the skin, produces a beautiful reddish-brown stain. Henna is also used as a natural reddish hair dye.
In many cultures henna tattoos are used to celebrate special occasions and rites of passage through life. All over the world people use henna to celebrate pregnancy, manhood, marriage, holidays and even death. In India the art of henna tattooing is called Mehndi. The bridal tattoos done for Indian weddings are some of the most beautifully intricate tattoos around.
Getting a Henna Tattoo
After you choose a tattoo design that you like, the tattoo artist then applies the paste to your skin. The paste needs to stay on the skin for 4 to 8 hours in order to produce a dark stain.
The Dangers of "Black Henna"
Never get a "black henna" tattoo. These are made from a paste that contains black hair dye. The black hair dye used to make this paste can cause severe allergic reactions and permanent scarring.
Before getting a henna tattoo ask the artist what color the tattoo will be, how long you need to leave on the paste and what ingredients they use in their paste. If the artist says the tattoo will be black, that they will remove the paste right away or refuses to tell you the ingredients, those are all warning signs that they are using dangerous "black Henna". Do not get a tattoo from that person.
There is no "safe" black henna. Henna leaves a reddish-brown stain only after the paste has been left on the skin from 4-8 hours. All legitimate artists have a card or aftercare instructions that list all of the ingredients they use in their paste.
Henna Tattoo After-care
Once the paste has been applied to the skin, it should be left on from 4-8 hours. Keeping the paste slightly moist and warm will help the paste create a darker stain.
After 4 to 8 hours the paste can be gently scraped off. It is a good idea to apply a thin layer of cocoa butter or olive oil to help the stain darken and last longer. When the paste is first removed, the henna tattoo will be light and orange colored. As the skin is exposed to air over the next 24 hours the stain will darken to a beautiful reddish-brown.
Henna tattoos generally last from 3-40 days depending on skin type and body location of the tattoo. Tattoos on the hands and feet last the longest and get the darkest stain. Henna stains gradually fade over the course of 3-14 days as the top layers of skin are ex-foliated and shed.
Henna tattoos are a fun, natural and safe type of temporary tattoo. One of the funnest aspects of henna tattoos is that you can change your tattoo designs often. These tattoos are also a great way to try on a tattoo design to see how you like it before you get it permanently tattooed on your body.