Henna tattoos have been around for many centuries. Infact, it may even be said that they are one of the
original temporary tattoos. I guess even back then, many people just didn’t like the idea of getting a permanent tattoo.
You have seen the artistic paintings done on various parts of the body on people from different cultures and different walks of life. The work is subtle, but beautiful and it causes you to do a double take just to make sure that you can see the design. This is Henna, Henna tattoos have gained popularity here in the United States, but it is a practice that has been around for ages.
Here, we try to answer a few questions that we get every week on the subject of Henna and Henna tattoos.
It is believed that Henna was used to stain the fingers and toes of the great Pharaohs prior to mummification. Many of us know of Henna because we have seen it depicted in many Indian cultures, usually done for sacred ceremonial purposes.
What is Henna? (AKA Mehendi)
Henna is a dye that is used to dye fabric, hair and skin. It is a flowering plant that when the leaves and stems are dried, then ground produces a greenish powder. This powder is then taken and combined with an acidic liquid. This combination will then create a brown, orange, or red stain on a porous surface such as your skin.
What are Henna tattoos?
Mehendi tattoos are designs that are done on the body, most often it is seen on women, but men get Henna tattoos as well. The designs are usually very intricate and beautiful. They vary in size and can be done on any part of the body. The bigger the designs are, the longer they take to apply and dry. If done by someone that knows how to apply Henna properly and is artistic, the results are simply breathtaking.What is the history of using Henna for tattoos?
In the East, the art of Mehendi tattoos has been used for centuries. Another interesting fact is that the great Pharaohs would have their toes and fingers stained with Henna before they were mummified. In Indian cultures, girls were decorated with Henna tattoos for sacred ceremonies, such as weddings, and fertility ceremonies.
This is because Henna is believed to have special “powers.” It is often used to help ensure luck and success. Henna is used to bestow blessings and beauty and has been used in many cultures for such reasons including Hindu, Muslim, and Jews. This is practiced across the Henna growing regions of the world.
Who uses it for tattoos? (men, women, children?)
Henna tattoos are most often seen on women. Though anyone can get a Mehendi tattoo. It really depends on the individual.
Henna has to be applied to the skin as a paste in order for it to stain the skin. The lawsone (also known as hennotannic acid) in the paste moves into the outermost layer of skin and that is where it will leave a stain.
To prepare for a Mehendi tattoo, the leaves and stems of the plant are usually dried and then ground or smashed. It is much easier to use ground Henna leaves if you are planning on making designs on the skin. The ground Henna is mixed with an acidic liquid (commercially speaking, usually lemon juice or a strong tea is used as the mixing agent) and mixed until it forms a paste.
Using an essential oil such as tea tree oil, lavender or eucalyptus will help increase the intensity of the stain. The paste must sit for 6 to 12 hours before it is used.
Where is it grown and produced?
Henna is grown in the tropical savannah as well as other tropical arid zone regions. This includes India, Pakistan, Morocco, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia.
What is Henna made of?
Henna is a flowering plant. To create the paste that is used for tattoos, the leaves and stems are taken and dried. Once dried they are ground and sifted and then combined with an acidic liquid. Then it is mixed together to toothpaste consistency.
What are Henna tattoos and how are they different than normal tattoos?
Mehendi tattoos are usually flowery designs that are painted on the body. They are different from a “normal” tattoo because they are not permanent. Depending on who you are, and why you are getting one, they can also signify something very personal in your life that you are on the verge of celebrating.
What is the benefit of a Henna tattoo over a normal tattoo?
The greatest benefit of the Mehendi tattoo over a “normal” tattoo is that they are not forever.
What are the different colors of Henna tattoos?
The stain that comes on the skin after the paste is applied and then dries can be either red, brown or orange in color. You can darken the tattoo with steam or warming the pattern. You can also add a little sugar to the paste prior to application to help darken the result.
If your Henna is black, it’s not really Henna, it’s dried indigo.
There are a number of tools that can be used to help apply Henna. The person applying the paste will want to be careful, or they will get stained as well. There are bottles and cones that you can purchase to help you apply the Henna. If you are using paste that is in a tube, you can apply the Henna directly from the tube. Best news here – no needles!
Where can you get a Mehendi tattoo?
The best place to get a Henna tattoo is from someone you know and trust. There are not really any Henna Tattoo shops per se, but if you visit festivals such as Medieval Festivals, or fairs, there will be booths set up to place a tattoo on you. I have noticed that now there are even booths being set up in area malls in some towns that offer Henna tattoos.
Are there any dangers or side effects to using Henna for tattoos?
You should be cautious of using premixed Henna paste. There have been some known to contain chemicals that the FDA considers illegal to be used in anything that is applied to the skin. This includes silver nitrate, carmine and pyrogallol. So read the label, and if the tube does not list ingredients, DO NOT use it.
The more frequently the skin is washed the faster the Henna will fade. If you change your mind about your tattoo before the paste has dried on the skin, removing it quickly will help decrease the length of time there is any noticeable design. Honestly, they don’t last long enough for you to worry about removing it.
How long does a Henna tattoo last?
This is going to depend on a number of factors:
1. The cleanliness of the skin being tattooed. Oils, lotions, sun block, and sweat are all barriers that will prevent the Henna from staining as darkly as it could. If you want the stain to last longer, and you know that you are going to be getting a tattoo avoid these items for about a week and make sure your skin is kept clean. Wash prior to application.
2. The part of the body being hennaed. Thicker skin stains better than thinner skin. Generally, you can assume palms of the hands and soles of the feet stain the best and the further away from these areas you get, the lighter the stain.
3. How long the moist Henna is in contact with the skin is a determining factor, the longer the better, with a minimum of 4 hours to overnight. Be sure the Henna is not “floating” on top of any hair.
4. Body temperature is a HUGE factor in releasing Henna dye. People with higher body temperature typically get better stains. You can add heat by using a wrap on your henna design.
5. How the dried Henna is removed. Do NOT use water when removing the dried Henna paste. The paste should be scraped off and any stubborn bits can be removed using Henna oil or olive oil.
6. How well the Henna tattoo is cared for. Water should be avoided for as long as possible (24 hours is the goal, but normally not possible). Avoid anything that will exfoliate the skin (chlorinated water, salt water, cleaners, face wash, smoothing lotions).
7. The Henna mix that was used. Fresh mixed Henna will leave better color than pre-mixed Henna. Experiment with your Henna recipe to find what works best for you.
Can I purchase a Henna tattoo kit?
Henna kits can be purchased. As with anything, they have their moments of popularity and demand. Henna can be a great novelty for people that are wanting to experiment with tattoos, but don’t want anything permanent, and for others Henna is as essential to them as eating and drinking.
One of the best features for most people who use henna for tattooing is the fact that it is a temporary tattoo. It will eventually wear off on it’s own. No, it normally will not wash off as easily as an normal temporary tattoo, but Henna tattoos do last a bit longer than a regular temporary tattoo would. This, coupled with the fact that no needles are used, do indeed make it the “tattoo of choice” for many people who otherwise would not even think about getting a tattoo.