Henna is the Arabic name for a plant also known as “Lawsonia Inermis.” Henna is grown in some of the hottest and driest places in the world. The leaves from the bush produce a red dye. The leaves are either ground fresh and mixed with a mild acidic liquid and used immediately or they are collected, dried, and ground into a fine powder. The powder is then mixed into a paste that produces a red dye. All henna comes from the same kind of plant, and there are no variations except where the plant is grown and the conditions it is grown in. Henna paste does not produce any color except a reddish brown. There are rare cases of it producing a green color, but I have only seen it on thicker skin and generally only when fading out.
“Black henna” is generally a hair dye that contains PPD, and likely has no real henna in it at all. PPD, also known as para-phenylenediamine, is extremely dangerous and can cause permanent scarring and can make you sensitive to quite a few cosmetic products (and synthetic hair-dye) for the rest of your life. The sensitivity that you get from having a reaction to PPD is lifelong and life-threatening. Even if you’ve had a “black henna” tattoo before, that does not mean you’re safe, PPD will build up in your system, making each subsequent application even more dangerous.
If you notice burning, itching, or discomfort after getting a “Black Henna” tattoo notify your doctor IMMEDIATELY, and make sure they know it was para-phenyenediamine.
Improper treatment of the reaction can cause more complications.
If the paste stains your torso skin black, or leaves a dark stain in less than thirty minutes it has PPD in it, and little to no henna.
If you ask the artist and they tell you that the paste is mixed with peroxide, or if peroxide is wiped over the design to bring out the color, it has PPD in it, and little to no henna.
There is also Jagua, a South American citrus fruit, also known as Genipa Americana. This produces a blue black stain on the skin. Since it’s too easy to mistake for PPD, I generally recommend that people stay away from it.
Just like “Black Henna” there’s no such thing as “White Henna.” Henna only comes in the reddish-brown color. “White henna” is usually either body paint or special glues with mica or other pigments applied over it. It’s a temporary and elegant way to adorn your skin. Since it’s just a body paint, it doesn’t stain your skin.
I do offer both body paint and glue with either glitter or mica on top. However, I don’t always have those supplies with me, so if you’re booking an appointment please be sure to let me know that you’re looking for that instead of natural henna.
Jagua, otherwise known as Genipa Americana, is a gel that’s applied and used like henna. I do not offer it for a few reasons. Please be wary of places offering Jagua because it’s too easy to alter to have harmful chemicals in it.
Since it is a citrus fruit, if you have any kind of allergies, especially to things like strawberries, please be cautious when allowing someone to apply it to you.
After the gel peels off, the design will be barely there and over the next few days it will darken (like henna) however unlike henna, jagua turns blueish grey.
Do NOT have fresh jagua gel applied over a jagua stain. Doing this usually causes the skin to break out in painful blisters that can cause scarring.
If you want something colorful, then henna is not for you. Henna only comes in the reddish brown color. If someone tells you that they have another color of henna, then you are likely looking at a dye that could possibly contain PPD or other chemicals. Hair colors are not for application on skin and applying them to the skin is extremely dangerous. Henna does not produce stains that are pink, blue, black, or purple.
I do not and never will use “Black Henna” or anything containing PPD or other harmful synthetic dyes. I will never use anything with harmful chemicals.
I use natural henna. The brand I primarily use is Jamila.
My henna paste consists of henna powder, lemon juice, sugar and/or molasses, lavender oil, cardamom oil, and clove oil. If you have an allergy to any of those items, let me know in advance and I can mix up paste that you can use. You can find henna powder in some of the local asian groceries, but unless you know where they get it and how it’s stored, it is likely something you’ll not want to use on your skin.
If you’re interested in working with henna yourself, please contact me and I can put you in contact with many reputable retailers who have starter kits so you can try things out.
Henna stains last on average 7 to 10 days. Depending on aftercare and location where it was applied, it can start to fade in as few as 3 days. In special cases and with extreme care henna can last longer, up to 21 days! The amount of after care, the speed which your skin sheds at, and your body chemistry are all factors in both color of stain and how long it lasts. I cannot guarantee a dark or long lasting stain, but I can give you the information to get the best stain you can get.
After prepping your skin and making sure that it is clean and ready to have the paste applied, I use a cone to carefully squeeze the paste into the design. The process is similar to decorating a cake with icing, but at the same time it is very different. Occasionally, to fill in a larger space or for texture to the stain I will use other methods to apply the henna, but that is rare.
The process uses no needles. Nothing is injected or applied under the skin.
Not often for henna, but I do have some available for use. If you want to peruse my stencils, let me know. The stencils I have are one time use and have a mild adhesive on them. If you have allergies to any kind of adhesive then a stencil is likely not for you.
I do use stencils when doing glitter designs.
Not at all! Many people say that getting henna done is as relaxing as someone playing in their hair. Some people find getting henna applied to be very ticklish.
Yes, I’d be happy to work with your design, but I can’t guarantee a perfect copy. Since all my work is freehand, there is likely going to be variations. Muscle and bone structure as well as skin texture and body hair will all play a part in how the designs end up on your skin as opposed to paper. If the design is copyrighted, I can do something based on it, but I won’t do a perfect copy. If you don’t have your own design, I would be happy to do something just for you!
No, I’m sorry, but I will only work with henna that I’ve mixed and that I know is safe. There are too many chemicals that can cause severe and permanent damage, as well as too many things that could cause an allergic reaction.
Henna can safely be applied just about anywhere as long as the skin isn’t broken. For the best stains, you would apply henna to the places with the thickest skin, like the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. The next best place would be the tops of the hands and tops of the feet. From there, moving toward shoulder and hips, the skin thins. The thinnest skin is in the torso, neck and face. The stain will not be as dark there nor will it last as long as it might on the hands and feet because of the natural oils of the skin and the amount of rubbing from clothes.
Henna can not be applied to mucous membranes, such as eyes or mouths. I will also not apply it to genitalia.
Henna is one of the oldest and most gentle cosmetics that we know of. It is safe for use on pregnant women, children, and animals. However, if you have a Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, kidney problems, or are pregnant it is advisable to speak with your doctor before receiving a henna design. If you would like me to supply information to your doctor so they can make an informed decision, I will be happy to assist you in any way.
Contact me and I can put you in touch with reputable businesses that carry quality henna. There are two basic types of kits, one where you mix the paste yourself and one where the paste is premixed for you.
While henna is indeed edible, as are all the ingredients that I use in it, I would not recommend consumption.
Art by Desi
Phone: (843) 307-3956