How do I prepare for my appointment?

Please arrive to your appointment with clean skin, no lotions or oils. Clothing should be loose or not obstruct the area to be hennaed. Waxing and manicures should be done in advance. Self-tanning is not recommended.

How is henna applied?

  • Henna is applied to clean, dry skin. This can take anywhere from a few minutes for a simple design to 4 or 5 hours for a heavy bridal mehndi.
  • Once dry, it will be sealed with a sugar solution, or taped with medical tape (for body pieces). Henna paste is left on for a minimum of 4 hours, though overnight is traditional and guarantees the best color.
  • After 4-8 hours, the paste is gently removed by picking it  off or removing the medical tape. NEVER WASH IT OFF!
  • You should avoid water for 12-24 hours after removing the paste for best color results. You should also avoid detergents, exfoliants, manual labor, and swimming in chlorinated water, as these things will fade the henna faster.
  • Applying a natural vegetable or beeswax based oil/balm before bathing can help prolong the life of your henna design.
  • For best results, henna should be applied 2-3 days prior to your important event (such as wedding or photoshoot) so that the stain is at its peak on your special occasion.

What is henna and where is henna from?

Henna is a plant, Lawsonia Inermis, thought to be indigenous to Egypt and in use for at least 5000 years. Useful both as a folk medicine and as a decorative cosmetic, the henna plant was eventually spread around the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf, finally reaching the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia. The leaves of the plant contain a dye molecule, lawsone, which is responsible for coloring the skin.

Is henna safe?

Henna is safe for use on the skin and hair. Although it has been taken internally as a folk remedy for various stomach ailments, we do not recommend eating it! It tastes disgusting, and for those with the condition known as G6PD, it would be toxic (as would Fava Beans). Henna is also effective in treating athlete’s foot and dandruff, due to its anti-fungal properties. Gross but cool?

How long does henna last?

Henna works by staining your dead skin cells. You have 7-10 layers of them on you. Right now. Even if you exfoliated this morning! Henna can last 1-4 weeks, but usually it looks fresh for about a week and fades after that, depending on how fast your skin is renewing itself. Swimming, washing dishes, and doing housework or strenuous activity like rock-climbing can accelerate the fading process. Henna is permanent on the hair and nails until they grow out and are cut off.

Does it show up on darker skin tones?

Henna stains all skin types, but the hands and feet stain best (where the skin is most calloused) and the stain is fainter on other body parts, or almost invisible on the face or neck. On darker skin tones it is always recommended to henna the hands/feet for optimal visibility. Hands and feet are traditional for a reason!

What about henna for chemotherapy patients?

Henna is a wonderful way to “dare to go bare” during your chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Maybe you don’t want to wear an itchy wig, or swelter under a wooly hat in the middle of summer. Or maybe you’d  just like to express yourself with beautiful artwork for everyone to see.

Henna is natural, safe, and promotes positive conversations and interactions during a challenging time. Be sure to check out my friend Frances Darwin’s site Henna Healsfor more information on this process.

How do I prepare for my henna appointment?

Make sure that the area to be hennaed is clean and free of any lotion or oil. Manicures and waxing should be done in advance. Wear loose or comfortable clothing. For body pieces we can tape up your design with medical tape (Hypafix) if you wish to put your clothes back over it. For feet, flip flops, or bare feet are advisable.

How long does henna take to dry?

Once your mehndi design is applied it is dry in about 30 minutes, however, it should sit for 6-8 hours, or overnight (as is traditional). Instead of washing the paste off, it should be scraped off and allowed to oxidize another half a day or so. You can apply a vegetable oil or beeswax-based balm to it before showering or swimming to prolong the stain. Basically, you want to allow a full 24 hours of care for your henna to achieve the darkest stain possible. During the time that the henna stain is visible on the skin, it is customary to be exempt from household chores such as cooking and cleaning. May not work every time, but it’s worth a try!

What is Black henna?

Technically, “black henna” is a misnomer. Sometimes, the herb Indigo will be labeled as black henna, because of it’s ability to maintain black hair (Indigo actually yields a blue dye, the same dye that colors your jeans). But most often Black Henna is made of Coal Tar Dyes known as Paraphenyladiamine, or PPD for short. Recently it’s referred to as “Para” or “kali mehndi”.

By any name, PPD is not safe for skin, and is banned by the FDA for use on skin. It can cause blisters, liver damage, fetal damage, and is known to be carcinogenic. Say no to “black henna”, which is often found in tourist destinations like Mexico, Venice Beach, and even in India, Thailand, and Africa. Adding to the confusion, it is possible to get a nearly black stain on the palms from natural henna, when cared for properly. However, with a natural stain, the color starts out orange and darkens over 24-48 hours. Natural henna also needs to be left on for several hours to overnight. With “black henna”, a jet black stain is achieved in just 20 minutes. Here is a photo of a naturally dark henna stain. The client left it on overnight and avoided water for 24 hours afterward. You can see the more reddish color evident at the wrist.


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