What is Henna
In the process of body art, the leaves of the henna plant are dried and crushed to a powder before being made into a paste.
Lawsone, the pigment found in henna leaves, staines the skin with a darker pigment. The stain will not alter the surface permanently but will fade as the skin exfoliates.
Henna on the skin.
When applied to the skin the henna paste imparts a non-toxic, natural, red- brown dye.
The henna paste, as often seen in photos, appears black, however this black layer peels off after a number of hours. The longer the henna paste is left on the skin the darker it stains.
After the paste is removed the dye appears bright orange. As the dye is exposed to the air it goes through a natural process of oxidation becoming darker and darker for 12 to 48 hours.
The design fades as your skin naturally exfoliates. Generally the dye lasts from 7 to 10 days but may last as long as a month depending upon factors such as the location of the design on the body and the additional ingredients in the henna mix.
See Aftercare for all the tips you need to keep your henna design for longer.
More than just a temporary tattoo.
Henna is a medicinal herb whose healing properties are relaxing, antipyretic (cooling), antiseptic, astringent and anti-fungal. It can relieve headaches and has been used for skin complaints. The fragrance of henna is considered to be an aphrodisiac and the perfume made from henna flowers is highly prized.
Henna painting is a wonderfully relaxing and luxurious process which has been performed for more then 1000 years in many cultures. Not only India but North Africa the Middle East and parts of Europe all have a history of henna use.
Henna is also commonly used as a hair dye imparting orange to mahogany tints to hair.
Traditionally henna is most often used in times of transition such as birth, marriage and coming of age in order to offer protection, prosperity, purification and luck.
In the west we rarely give ourselves the time we need to mark change. Henna painting offers us an ancient cross cultural art that can reintroduce the benefits of ritual and self expression often found lacking in our lives.
Ritual provides important therapeutic social and psychological functions which assist individuals in processing, growing and embracing change in their lives.
When an individual faces a great change, such as a becoming a mother or wife, moving to a new town or a change in career, additional psychological and social needs arise. Psychologically, we need to consciously and unconsciously let go of the old and let in the new. Socially we need to feel support and acknowledgement of our new role or identity from our peers and community.
In times like these we look to henna as it has been used for 100’s of years. It is not just beautification we seek in the act of hennaing; we are trying to create a special moment outside of our ordinary day to day activity, a moment that says ‘Hay! I am changing.’ Our friends come together and share the moment with us, giving their support in this nurturing event. This is the gift of the henna.
New occasions for Henna ritual may be: –
Traditionally times of transformation and change are the occasions when henna is used as this ancient art not only has the function of beautification and adornment but also it is considered to bring protection, luck, prosperity and blessing.
- After the birth of a child
- When a girl first menstruates
- When a child becomes a teen
- A change of school, job or residence
- Before or during travel
- On birthdays
- In times of crises and illness
- For weddings and unions
- Cancer, illness and recuperation