The Henna Plant...
The botanical name of the henna plant is Lawsonia inermis. A member of the Loosestrife family, henna originally comes from Egypt, a country that is still one of the main suppliers of the plant (along with India, Pakistan, Morocco, and the Sudan).
In addition to its cooling properties, several other medicinal properties are attributed to henna. It is used as a coagulant for open wounds; and a poultice made with henna leaves works to soothe burns and certain types of eczema.
Its inherent soothing qualities are also part of the reason why mehndi is traditionally performed on the palms of the hands. Since the palm contains numerous nerve endings, when henna is applied to the area it helps to relax the system.
Caring for your Henna...
Letting the henna dry.
It will take approximately half an hour before the henna paste is dry enough that you do not have to worry about smudging it. Keep all clothing, hair, etc. away from your henna design for at least half an hour.
- Leave the henna on as long as possible! The longer you leave the henna on, the darker the color will be and the longer it will last. Leave it on a minimum of 2 hours; overnight is best. Do either or both of these while the henna paste is still on for best results:
- Dab a little bit of lemon juice mixed with sugar onto semi dried henna paste with you’re cotton ball. Be sure not to over saturate the henna...you just want to keep it moist. Over saturation will lead to the dye dripping which you don't want it.
you want to leave the henna on as long as possible. But you will eventually have to take it off. When taking off the henna, brush it off with your hand - again, only do this after it has been on as long as possible. Do not wash the henna off! I recommend brushing the henna off with your free hand picking off the last bits that are left then use a little olive oil on a cotton ball to gently remove any remaining henna and lemon sugar mixture from the skin. I personally find this to be a very pleasant way for henna removal.
Watch the color develop.
- The color of your design will at first be a shade of orange (ranging from very light orange highlighter color to pumpkin orange). It will get darker over the course of the next 48 hours, turning anywhere from orange-brown to maroon or chocolate brown. Your design will be at its darkest after 1 or 2 days.
- Take care to maintain your henna as long as possible. Avoid chlorine, salt water, dish soap, bleach, other cleaning materials, and any other harsh chemicals. You can bathe and shower as usual.
- To get rid of the henna more quickly on purpose, exfoliate using a loofah or pumice stone.