mehndi info pages
if you are looking for designs, see my sketchbook.
jump to the annotated link list below
what i do
i buy my henna mostly from castle art and imports and the mehandi shop. i have also purchased henna from body art supply and from kenzi at henna, modern mystical adornment. all three have worked very well for me. kenzi had the reddest stain, castle art and the mehandi shop both carry my favorite brand (jamilla, a very finely sifted powder), and body art supply had the brownest stain. all three of these suppliers sold me very fresh and dark staining powder. i use a recipe derived from various ones shared on the discussion forum at the henna page.
beware of black henna
henna's recent increase in popularity has created some modern imitations that are very dangerous. please educate and protect yourself. learn to tell the difference between safe traditional henna and toxic imitations. read the henna page's "black henna" warnings.
read this part--it could save you a rash
i'm not a professional mehndi artist. i'm a mehndi enthusiast who has developed a system that works for me. these directions give a deep brown/burnt sienna mehndi on my pale olive skin. they may or may not do the same for everyone. while this recipe contains 100% natural ingredients made mostly from things you'd find in your kitchen, you may be allergic to it, especially when they are combined in this manner. IMPORTANT: if you tend to have allergies or sensitive skin, do a patch test first. even if you don't think you will be allergic, do a patch test anyhow just to be on the safe side.
* use henna that is fresh, green, and fragrant
* add an acidic liquid to make a paste
* apply the paste to clean, dry, prepped skin
* let the paste sit for 2-8 hours (depending on how dark/long-lasting you want the stain and how patient you are)
* keep the paste moist and in contact with your skin
for one heaping tablespoon of sifted powder
add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil
add enough of the room temperature magic liquid elixir below to make a smooth paste about the consistency of cookie dough.
let the paste sit overnight in a sealed container away from any light/heat sources. the next day, add enough additional liquid (either coffee, tea, or more magic elixir) to get the mixture to a smooth toothpaste consistency. (thanks to Tap Dancing Lizard for this tip.)
magic liquid elixir recipe (this stuff is so good it will make low-grade henna stain well--thanks to DIVA for the idea)
boil 1 cup of lemon or lime juice
add one bag of black tea (lately i've been using my own chai blend instead)
add one scoop of coffee grounds
add one tablespoon of ground cloves
remove from heat, cover, and steep for about an hour
strain through a coffee filter
store in the fridge
rewarm as needed to use in the henna paste.
lemon juice fixative
use a microwave-safe container. mix two tablespoons of sugar with eight tablespoons of lemon juice. pop it in the microwave to get the lemon juice warm. stir until the sugar dissolves. let it cool before using. use this liquid to re-moisten the henna design once it starts to dry. the lemon juice boosts the acidity and the sugar glues the design to your skin.
wash the area you are going to mehndi with soap and water. dry it well. moisten a cotton ball with witch-hazel and go over the area to remove any residue. take some eucalyptus oil and rub it into the skin.
i prefer to use a cone made out of plastic from a ziploc freezer bag because i can get very fine lines from them. i make eight cones from one bag and use butterfly clips to hold the tops shut and tape to keep the tip from leaking when i store the leftovers in the fridge. i use cocktail stirrers and toothpicks for cleanup of the occasional mistake. elizabeth roettger drafted a good cone-rolling diagram. i pretty much follow this procedure--except i put the paste in after i've rolled the cone. i roll several cones at once and keep them around for when i need them. catherine cartwright jones turned me on to the wonders of the carrot bag--which i now use when i need to fill a ton of cones at once (like at a mehndi party).
wrapping it up
your design is done, you've dabbed it with lemon juice a few times, and now it's dry. it is now time to wrap it up and cultivate patience. first, take some toilet paper, paper toweling, or unrolled cotton balls and wrap firmly over the hennaed area. BE SURE THAT THE HENNA PASTE IS DRY--if it isn't dry enough, the design will smoosh. if you live in a hot & humid climate like i do, this is probably all you will need to keep the area warm. i usually stick my hands/feet into socks if i'm going to bed, just to add an extra layer of protection. leave it on for at least two hours--overnight is best. and just so you have some options--there is an alternate method for wrapping which uses a product called nu-skin and cling wrap explained here by catherine of tap dancing lizard. i've tried the nu-skin but not the cling wrap (it's too sweaty here). on the plus side, the nu-skin held the detail extremely well. on the minus side the nu-skin was very difficult to remove. rubbing with sweet almond oil helped remove the residue, but it took patience.
this is the fun part. gently scrape the paste off your skin using oil to help the process along. i use the blunt side of a butter knife and sweet almond oil. don't wash the area with water if you can possibly help it for the next 12 hours. initially the henna stain's color will range from neon orange to dark pumpkin, but will darken over the next few days to a color anywhere from teracotta to deep burnt umber and in some lucky cases (like this photo) nearly black.
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mehndi sketchbook page