Mehendi is an ancient Indian Body Art. It is used in creating intricate ethnic or contemporary designs and exotic patterns on various parts of the body, though traditionally applied to the hands and feet of women preparing for special ceremonies. Once thought only for women, men are finding it a nice alternative to permanent tattoos. But now both men and women enjoy the "temporary tattoo". The process of applying henna in this manner is called Mehendi, an ancient ritual and art form dating back 5,000 years and is considered good luck in India, Middle East and North Africa. No Indian wedding is ever complete without the mehendi, whichever part of the country the bride may be from, her hands are adorned with the lovely red hue of the mehendi.
The appeal? Painless temporary tattoos. Cutting edge. Cool. Painless. Fun. No needles, just a paste. What was in this month might be out the next, so with Mehendi a lifetime commitment (like real tattoos) is not necessary as the designs fade within a 1-4 weeks.
Ingredients… the coloring thing in Henna..
Henna is a natural product, a plant, growing in size from 3 to 5 feet and can vary slightly from region to region. Its leaves are then dried and ground to make the henna powder. The ingredient in henna that makes up the dye properties is called lawsome (lawsonia inermis). Since it is a natural product, there are no known side effects.
Hennas dye component, hennotannic acid, does not pass through into the dermis, it only stains the dead cells in the epidermis. Hennotannic acid naturally makes the brick/red/brown stains; it usually takes many hours to get a good henna stain on the skin, and that stain is quite harmless. Pure, 100% henna, with the help of heat, moisture and time, leaves a reddish brown stain on skin, first light, then darkening during the next 24 hours. The shade various according to the quality of henna used, the ingredients of the paste and the methods used when applying, and sometimes the colour can darken to almost black, but basically the colour is brown.
Your design should last at a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 4 weeks depending on the thickness of the epidermis of your skin and on where the design is located. Leave the paste on as long as up to 8 hours (or more if you can stand it). The longer the paste is kept on, the darker the design will be. After you peel of the paste, dip a Q-tip in some olive or Avocado oil and take off the remainder of the dry paste. Do not expose your new design to water in the first 24 hours after the design has been applied as the colour is still in its darkening process. The less exposed to water, soap or rubbing, the longer the designs will linger.
A bit of History…
A comprehensive and authoritative history of henna use may not yet exist in a single volume, but references, allusions and clues are scattered through books on art, history, sociology, poetry, religion, mythology and other subjects. Henna has been used to decorate the skin and hair for nearly 5,000 years -- and has been found on the hands and feet of Egyptian mummies!.
Henna, also known as Mehendi, is the ancient art of bodypainting. Mehendi originated in the India, Middle East, North Africa. Patterns vary from culture to culture. In India, hands and feet are covered in intricate, lacy designs. In North Africa, more geometric patterns are preferred.
Black Mehendi - Warning!
All products claiming to be "Black Henna" have other ingredients than henna added in them. A chemical dye called Phenylenediamine, referred to as PPD, is often used to create a fast-taking, jetblack result. This is a very dangerous toxin and unfortunately is very harmful on skin, often causing a so-called chemical burn. This is much like a strong allergic reaction, many people get it and many dont, but I advice you not to take the risk. Please stay away from these products and stick to pure henna. Henna simply doesnt penetrate far enough into healthy, adult unbroken skin to cause problems. Allergic reactions to henna are very rare, it is safe to use and the result is beautiful.
Henna - Mehendi - Mehandi - FAQ Here are some brief answers to some frequently asked questions.
Is it sacrilegious for me to use henna if Im not East Indian or Muslim?
Short answer is no. Henna is not sacred nor is it holy or blessed by any priest. The best analogy would be it is much like a wedding dress or wedding jewelry, considered a necessary tradition, and would be almost unthinkable to get married without it, but not a holy article. It is often gifted to a new bride or to someone having a celebration. A very welcome presentation. It is considered extremely beautiful and we all want to be stunning on our big day. The traditions of henna are anywhere from 5000 to 9000 years old, 60 countries and 6 major religions so it belongs to no one people in particular and the folklore behind it is varied. Henna has been/still is practiced in many different cultures including Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu. All it takes to have henna is the desire to be individual and beautiful.
OK, so WHAT is in henna?
Henna is another name for the Lawsonia Inermis plant grown in arid areas of countries like Pakistan, India, and UAE to name a few. Henna is also the term used for the action. "Im getting a henna "or " Im going to do some henna today". The leaves of this plant are dried, ground into a powder, then reconstituted to make a paste. Recipes to do this vary. My paste includes sugar, henna, lavender and Eucalyptus essential oils and lemon juice. The paste is applied to the skin in beautiful patterns to create a stain that can last anywhere from 4 days to 8 weeks depending on the person, how well its taken care of and the part of the body the paste is applied to. It has many names as well, mehndi, mehandi, henna, hina, heena are some of the variations all meaning the same thing. Henna also has medicinal uses in controlling foot issues, parasidic pests and is a natural sunscreen. It was used frequently in many cultures for these properties.
Is henna safe?
Real henna is safe for almost everyone. Unfortunately there are people who are practicing the art in pop up tents, salons, festivals and street corners who are using questionable ingredients or black henna which is a chemical and illigal in Canada. Often this contains no henna whatsoever. Pure henna is probably one of the worlds safest and oldest cosmetics. Although not every good and safe artist is certified, it isnt a bad idea to look for an artist that is certified whenever possible to be sure your getting the safest and freshest product from a professional who is actually knowledgeable in the art form. In Winnipeg right now there is no licensing, insurance or criminal background check of street / festival artists / Hair and beauty salons when it comes to the application of henna and no one inspects the products used so its up to you to be the smart consumer.
If you are allergic to perfumes, you should talk to your artist before getting henna done, as some individuals may be sensitive to lavender or other added oils. You should always ask what is in the mix and if they cannot or will not tell you, claim it is their heritage or make you feel foolish for asking, you should consider avoiding that vendor. Its your body and you have every right to ask questions before letting someone embellish it with anything. If your doctor has ever told you that you have G6PD or you are allergic to fava beans and aspirin, you should not be using henna. Children under 5 should also avoid henna.
So, how do I get colored henna?
The colored designs seen on this site are henna embellished with zardosi (body safe glitter and gold), real Swarovski crystals and body safe skin paints. This technique is usually used on a
bride 2 days after paste removal to make her designs. The patterns that appear black are designs that still have the henna paste on. It does NOT come in colors. If it is black or colored it is NOT henna and can be very harmful to your health and cause permanent scaring. The PPD black is banned by Health Canada but rampant in USA, Mexico and Greece. Most so called colored henna is going to lighten your wallet of your hard earned coin and not stain at all at best, hurt you at worst. Dont be taken advantage of!
I forgot I had a big meeting/photo shoot/granny hates henna! Can I take it off quick?
Henna stains dont really wash off quickly. Once you have it, it has to fade. That being said, there are ways to help it along if you have to. This is easier if you are somewhat older as the skin starts to thin and therefore you have less layers to exfoliate through. You can try a whitening toothpaste or a soak in a hot tub or a swim in a public pool. Chlorine and henna do not get along and the chemicals will help expedite the demise of the stain as well. Doing a lot of housework with cleaning products has been shown to be the enemy of the mehndi stain.