What is henna?
Henna is a paste made from the henna plant, Lawsonia Inermis. It originates from North Africa but now grows in arid climates around the world. The leaves of the henna plant are dried and ground in to a powder which once mixed into a paste can be used to dye hair and skin. The paste is made by combining henna powder with water, sugar and essential oils (I usually use cajeput or lavender) to create a natural and safe dye. Henna has a rich history in many cultures and is considered a great blessing by many. It has been used to adorn skin and hair for 1000s of years.
Preparing for your appointment
To help you to get the best out of your henna tattoo there are a few simple steps you can take before your appointment:
- It is a good idea to shower or bath before the appointment as you will need to avoid getting the tattoo wet for the first 24 hours so this will be tricky afterwards. Exfoliate the area that will be tattooed to ensure that the skin is fresh and clean.
- Do not use any skin products, creams, oils, moisturisers etc. on the area as anything like this will create a barrier between the henna and your skin.
- Excessive hair can interfere with the design so you may wish to shave or wax the area beforehand. If you feel this is necessary it should be done 1 or 2 days before your appointment.
How you treat your henna will make a big difference to the final result, here’s how to get the best from your tattoo:
- Once the design has been applied it will take between 15 minutes and an hour to dry, depending on the temperature and humidity. Be very careful not to smudge the design in this time. Once dry, a solution of sugar and water can be added to help prevent the paste from crumbling off.
- The longer you leave the paste on your skin within the first 24 hours the darker your tattoo will be and the longer it will last. A minimum of 4-6 hours is advisable but the longer the better. Tattoos applied in the evening can be wrapped and kept on over night.
- When the time comes, scrape the paste off but DO NOT wash with water. The back of a blunt knife or a credit card work well for this. If you are having trouble with stubborn paste use a small amount of oil to rub it off, such as coconut or olive oil.
- It is important that you keep the tattoo away from water for the first 24 hours. If you must get it wet in this time rub some oil on to it beforehand to help protect it.
- Keeping the design moisturised with coconut oil or something similar will help it to last longer.
When you first remove the paste your tattoo will be bright orange and this will then darken to a deep red-brown over the next 48 hours. Henna will last for between 1 and 2 weeks, occasionally longer, depending on how well it is cared for.