A few days before Eid or any special occasion, henna is one of the first things to come out! I have been making my own henna paste for years and about 8 years ago i studied a henna course, as i wanted to learn everything i could about it!
Every time i have been to Bangladesh, we have always used fresh henna taken straight from the tree. The stain is unbelievable and it is impressive that you don't need to add any other ingredients except water. They would always use tooth picks to do the henna design or roll up old newspaper into cones.
I am not a henna snob by any means, however over the last nine years i have tried and tested many henna recipes and have found one that works very well, leaving the most beautiful coffee coloured stains on the palms. I am always wary of using pre-made henna cones, as there are no ingredients and you just don't know whether you will have a reaction or not. When i have worked on clients in previous years, i have always used my home made henna paste because that way i know what's in the paste!
Henna takes a lot of practise, but i guess that's with anything right? When i first started out i was trying to henna anyone and everyone but also drawing patterns on paper. I love doing it on special occasions when i have the time, because sometimes an intricate design can take between 1-3 hours! For occasions like Eid, i like doing strip patterns up the palm.
I always do henna at least 48 hours before the event/occasion. Why you ask? Henna takes at least 24 hours to develop on the skin. Some people have complained that as soon as they have removed the henna paste, they have been left with a faint orange stain. However, after 12-24 hours the henna will slowly deepen, this does depend on your body chemistry as well! Henna/mehndi can be applied almost anywhere, however it always stains better on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet because the skin is much more thicker.
I apply a lemon and sugar seal once the henna has started to dry. This helps keep the henna moist and the more sticky the henna paste, the longer it will stick to the skin, which means the stain will be darker.
Once the henna has dried fully, i wrap tissue around my hand (kinda like a mummy!), and then wrap it with cling film. I wrap it with cling film for many reasons; it keeps the henna paste contained, so you won't be staining your bed sheets and the cling film helps the hand heat up which allows the henna stain to penetrate deeper into the skin.
I always do henna in the evening and recommend leaving it overnight. The longer the henna is on the skin, the better the stain will be.
|Top: Immediately after removing paste. Middle: 12 hours after removal. Bottom: 24 hours after removal.|
How to prolong your henna stain:
- When washing up, use gloves!
- Don't swim in chlorinated pools, as the chlorine will fade the henna quicker.
- Moisturise - the more hydrated your skin is, the longer your stain will last.
- When taking off the henna paste, don't wash your hands straight away. Try to rub your hands together and most of the dried henna paste will rub off. Avoid washing your hands for at least a couple of hours after removing the henna.
- Once the henna paste has been removed and your hands are clean, apply an oil like mustard oil, it stinks but helps deepen the stain as it raises the temperature of your palms.
- A developing henna stain likes heat! You may notice if you have had a hot bath or shower, your henna may deepen slightly.
I love using henna for special occasions, as it's such a strong part of my upbringing and culture. I try to attempt different designs, whether it's indian or arab and for me, it's just so much fun! I always find it exciting to see how the henna stain will look!
Do you like using henna for special occasions?
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