The Spectacular Henna Tattoo World
Today we’ll be talking all about henna tattoos. From safety concerns, to where to buy them, to how to make the dye and apply it…really, we’re going to cover all bases today. I hope you’re ready for a spectacular tour of the Henna Tattoo world!
Are Henna Tattoos Safe?
One of the first things that comes to mind when you watch henna tattoos in action for the first time is whether it is safe or not. Henna has been practiced for thousands of years, but so have many harmful practices. What makes us sure that henna is a safe form of art? Well, first of all, none of the ingredients inside of henna are toxic. The dyes follow a simple recipe and those who wear henna tattoos suffer no ill effects down the line. You could even claim that henna—though a bit smelly—is much safer than many common office writing materials. This only applies to natural henna, of course.
That begs the question—is black henna safe? Black henna is a mix of real henna and modern chemicals. This new invention isn’t regulated and doesn’t have the track record of its natural companion. It contains something called para-phenylenediaime, which we’ll call PPD for short, that many people are sensitive to. Both artists and recipients are at risk from using this. It is essentially the same as using coal tar dye on your skin and letting it sit there. Avoid it at all costs!
More About Black Henna Dye
You can easily tell apart black henna dye from real henna dye. Real henna dye will leave a brown or red mark, instead of a black one. PPD paste is pure black like printer ink, while henna is slightly brown in colors. On that note, if it stains anything other than red, orange, or brown, it contains some kind of dye that you need to know about. Ask your artist about what it will look like and how long it will take. If it takes more than an hour to stain, it is not real henna.
Other than the black henna situation, henna tattoos are completely safe! At fairs, parks, and festivals, real henna is the only thing you will see. Black henna only appears in home kits that you buy at Walmart or similar stores. If you are interested in making henna yourself, don’t worry about that—we’ll go into detail on how to do henna at home in safety!
Where to Buy Henna?
Related Article: Henna Tattoo Kits
How much are henna tattoos? Cheap, especially compared to actual tattoos! These temporary tattoos fade quickly and allow for lots of experimentation. The only ‘exotic’ ingredient you will need is fresh henna powder or henna paste. There are kits already out there that you can buy from Walmart, Target, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Amazon. If you want to make your own paste instead of using a store-bought brand to ensure quality, we’ve gathered a little shopping list for you!
How to Make Henna
What is henna? What is henna powder? Henna is a plant that grows in and around the Middle East, especially in hot climates. This shrub makes lovely and fragrant flowers that can go into perfume, while its leaves can be ground up to create a safe and natural skin dye. Making homemade henna without henna powder is simply impossible. You can make other dyes, but the powdered henna leaves are what make henna henna.
First are the ingredients that you can find anywhere—lemon juice, sugar, a plastic or glass mixing bowl and spoon, plastic wrap, ziplock bags, decorating tip, rubbing alcohol, olive oil, soap, gloves, tape, and scissors. If you get small, empty paint bottles with a tiny tip (which you will use to apply a thin line of henna paste), you can skip the ziplock bags and decorating tip. Next, you’ll need some essential oils. The oil can be from any plant and is used both for fragrance and texture of the dye. Sandal wood oil and tea tree oil are popular choices. If you skip this step, your henna will smell like an old bathroom, but still be usable.
Finding Henna Powder
The only odd ingredient is the henna powder. You can get this at Indian Markets, Asian Markets, and Amazon. Other than Amazon, I don’t believe any large chains sell the product. To begin, place ¼ cup of henna powder into your bowl. Add ¼ cup of lemon juice into it and begin stirring. Ensure that there are no clumps. And ½ teaspoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of your oils. It should start looking very dark green and shiny now. Cover it and let it rest for 24 hours at room temperature. The ending texture will be a thick paste. Apply the newly finished paste however you like—the ziplock method and decorating tip or the dedicated bottle method. The thinner your applicator, the more detailed your designs can be!
Henna can be used to dye hair in much the same way. Henna hair dye is very different than the chemical concoctions you can find on the grocery store shelves, though. It can produce wildly different results even with the same brand, and it is almost ineffective on dark hair. If you want henna hair dye for African American hair or black hair, bleach your hair first before applying, or you will see little results. When used properly, henna hair dye gives a bright red color and sheen! Its scent is much preferable to chemical dyes and lingers for a while.
How to Do Henna
Related Article: Magical Mendhi
Now that you have henna dye, you can start looking at what to do with it! Wondering how to apply henna tattoos? It’s easy. Use your applicator to draw whatever design you would like on your arm. Leave the paste there for 2 hours if you would like a dark brown line, and then avoid swimming with it or wetting it for 24 hours. If you are having trouble, try looking for free henna stencils to print. Cut out a stencil from a plastic sheet and tape it to your skin where you would like it applied. There are lots of easy henna designs out there, and there are even henna patterns for kids!
Although I say you should avoid swimming, it won’t smudge if you end up showering normally or going for a dip in the pool. It only loses its full potential and has a lighter color instead of a dark brown. Other ways to spoil it are to expose it to enough sun to burn the skin, pick the paste off early, sweat too much, scratch or wash the area, or rub the area with a towel. If it is lighter than expected at the end, that’s just a lesson learned! You can always try again to get that perfect design.
Professionals know every trick in the book when it comes to applying henna tattoos. You can remove the dye early to create a gradient of color on the skin instead of one flat color. You can apply tiny details that will darken more and more over time, giving the tattoo a transforming appearance for its first few days! Even mixing up the recipe for the henna dye can give good results, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Related Article: Henna Tattoo Designs
What is henna, beyond just a dye? And why do some people call it Mendhi instead of henna? Well, traditional henna designs and meanings go back for thousands of years. Mendhi is a traditional form of henna art that is used the night before a bride’s wedding throughout India and the world. There are hundreds of henna tattoo symbols and designs that have their own meanings. Henna pattern meanings depends on what kind of training your artist has received. If you are at a theme park or festival, your artist will probably just draw a popular design without any real meaning. If you are asking a professional, they have any number of meanings to work with.
Tattoos on the palm represent an offering and the back of the hand as a symbol of protection or reservation. Before weddings, the bride will have her left and receptive hand tattooed, while the groom will have his right hand tattooed. There are a large amount cultural variations when it comes to what the tattoos mean and who wears them, so just think of this as a common trend and not the end-all-be-all ceremonious stuff! The feet are considered a meeting between the soul and the earth, with your body as a vessel between the areas, so they are often tattooed.
More Henna Meanings
Zigzags represent fertility, while celestial signs like the sun, moon, and stars represent devotion and love. Vines and leaves represent vitality and the mix of two or more lives in a journey, while a flower bud represents the start of a new life. All of these are excellent symbols for a bride-to-be! Designs that are not usually included with wedding Mendhi are squares that represent protection, ripples which represent emotion, an eye that wards off the Evil Eye, fishes that represent generosity and femininity, dragonflies that represent rebirth, and so on. There are so many different symbols that it is well worth researching them or seeking a mentor if you wish to do henna tattoos more often!
Whether or not you intend to use your tattoo as a charm or as a decoration, you’re sure to have fun wearing it. And, thanks to their brevity, you can switch your designs as often as it suits your mood. But how long does henna last, anyways?
How Long do Henna Tattoos Last?
Related Article: How to Remove a Henna Tattoo
These wonderful tattoos will stay on your skin for ten to twenty days. Up to six weeks isn’t uncommon, if great care was taken to keep the tattoo undisturbed and the ink was applied for an extensive time. To be honest, it depends entirely on a person’s skin color, texture, constitution, and health. If someone has unhealthy skin, skin conditions, or leaves their skin exposed to the sun often, then it probably won’t last long. If some is well-hydrated, has a well-balanced diet and keeps themselves fit, they are likely to have it stain deeper and longer. Those with white skin will find it easier to notice the contrast of the ink, while those with dark skin will have their tattoo last longer because of their good amounts of sun-defeating melanin. It’s a win-win for everyone!
If henna tattoos just aren’t doing it for you, and you find you need at least some color, there are options for you that aren’t permanent! You can read all about custom temporary tattoos, temporary tattoos for adults, and gold tattoos at the rest of InkDoneRight! While it’s easy to associate temporary tattoos with the party trinkets that kids might get at a birthday, there are many temporary tattoos that are aimed at adults exclusively. These fake tattoos are large, look realistic, and come in thousands of varieties. They can even have attributes that real tattoos and henna tattoos can’t. Gold tattoos shimmer as if you were tattooed with real metal, while others may glitter as if you were perfectly painted in an iridescent paint!
All in all, henna tattoos are one of the oldest and safest ways to decorate your body. If you’re looking for adventure before a beach trip or vacation, these are the way to go. They work well as souvenirs and quickly wash away once the fun is done. You can get a cute design or you can go to a pro and get something with personal meaning for you. Whatever the case, remember that you are wearing a symbol of love, dedication, and adventurous spirit!
Be sure to check out the rest of InkDoneRight for more tattoo articles! You can join our email list for monthly updates or follow our Twitter for updates as they happen. As always, thanks for reading!