Some of you may be new to the henna game and aren't really sure what henna even is! I am here to tell you all about safe henna, the dangers of 'fake' henna tattoos, and how you can easily tell the difference.
What is a henna tattoo?
Let's set one thing straight, a henna tattoo and henna are two different things. A henna tattoo is actually a stain on the skin that lasts for a few weeks, that stain is made by henna. Henna is a type of plant, which naturally dyes the hair and skin a deep orange brown color.
Let's break this down:
Henna is a plant. The leaves are ground into a fine powder so that it can be easily mixed with a carrier. This mixture allows it to become a paste that can be laid on top of the skin. Once that paste has dried and cracked off, it leaves a stain on the skin. That stain is what a lot of people call a Henna Tattoo. So since the henna plant itself is all natural, it's completely safe for the skin. What you have to watch out for is the carrier that people mix with the henna!
The 'black henna' trend - NOT SAFE!
Many people mix a hair dye called PPD into their henna mixture to create what they call "black henna". I want you to know that this 'black henna' is not safe, it is very harmful. PPD can cause incredible allergic reactions, so far as to cause ER visits from already asthmatic patients. What is even sneakier about this chemical, is that overtime you can develop an allergic reaction to it. So even if you use this 'black henna' once and see no reaction, it is a safe practice to simply never use this mixture again. Black henna is not real henna, as it is mostly gels, the PPD chemical dye, and very little actual henna powder.
The reactions people have seen from this mixture are horrific, and can cause PERMANENT scaring or blisters. Imagine permanent henna tattoo pattern on your hand, that you wanted just for a few weeks. I met a lady who had gotten a butterfly on her hip as a kid on vacation... she's now 34 and still has that tattoo pattern as a scar.
In the small middle photo here, you can see that the adult got the same 'black henna' tattoo as the child. In the left photo, they have had the tattoos for a while, as mom's is now gone, and the girls has developed open sores. At this point it is typically itchy, but if you itch it you will certainly scar. The second large photo looks like the beginning of the blistering, so taken somewhere after the middle photo and before the left photo.
A great way to spot this unsafe 'black henna' is to look at the cone or tool the artist is using to apply the material. If the cone looks like these below (a prepackaged, shiny cone that looks to be sold in bulk) then it is %100 unsafe.
Another great way to test is by smelling the mixture. Smells like chemicals? It is chemicals. Natural henna always smells delicious, and often time like the essential oil that goes into an all natural mixture.
And lastly, if the cone is not kept in a freezer or freezer bag when not in use, then the mixture has a preservative or other chemicals in it to keep it from going bad. As henna is a plant, it is only natural that it goes bad overtime. When a safe and natural henna cone is not in use, we keep it in our freezer so that it delays the process in which it goes bad. You can only keep an all natural henna cone out of the freezer for less that 20 hours before it will no longer produce a dark stain.
All Natural henna - COMPLETELY SAFE!
When a dedicated and professional artist makes their own henna, we use only all natural ingredients to get the darkest stain possible, without compromising anyones health. Every artist has their own mix they prefer, all largely similar.
My mix includes:
THAT'S IT! And most henna artists, including myself, sell their henna mixture in ready to go cones for those that want to learn, practice, or just enjoy making henna tattoos themselves. You can find my cones here for purchase if you'd like to try for yourself!
Natural henna will go on like a soothing paste, and leave your skin with a cooling maybe tingling feeling while it dries. After it has dried it crusts and falls off the skin, leaving behind a beautiful pumpkin orange color. That orange will slowly turn into a deep dark brown over the next two days and will last up to 2 weeks, depending on placement.
So if you are ever wondering if your henna artist is using safe henna for their tattoos, just ask them! Most artists are proud to use all natural henna and will have immediate respect for you in knowing you practice safe henna (;
Are you thinking about getting henna tattoos to celebrate your big day, but arent sure if its appropriate? I may be biased, but I say DO IT!! Overall your experience will be one to cherish for a lifetime, and though your henna tattoo may only last a few weeks, there is a fragile beauty in temporary art. I'll do my best to explain that along with all the pros and the cons to getting mehndi done for your wedding so you can decide if it's right for your big day.
Henna For All
I first want to address that HENNA IS FOR EVERYONE! It is an art form that belongs to our creativity and passion. Henna tattoos can be adorned on men and women from across the world. Since henna has been found in many regions and in many lifetimes, as far back as Egypt, you need not worry about any cultural shifts or misrepresentation. Though many areas practice henna tattoos along with religious or sacred circumstances, the henna tattoo is to represent that ceromony, not necessarily a part of the religous aspect. Henna tattoos just enhance the experience! Henna is timeless and comes straight from the earth in many regions, which brings many styles of application.
For wedding henna some people cover themselves in beautiful patterns from fingertips to elbows while others place a dollop on the palm and a flower or cotton on top of the dollop. A more recent trend is using 'white henna' (white body paint) for your bridal henna tattoo, which goes great with a white wedding dress! Sometimes both parties get henna tattoos, other times just one of the betrothed receives a henna blessing. So, rules are meant for breaking, do whatever your heart desires! This is YOUR big day, so I am here to make you happy and helps you celebrate your new union.
Pros VS Cons of Bridal Mehndi
Even though henna is an option for everyone, its not always the path everyone chooses. So below I wrote some honest bridal henna pros and cons so you can decide if wedding mehndi is the right choice for you.
Pros of bridal henna tattoo
Cons of bridal henna tattoo
Bridal Henna Alternatives
Now if you think there is just too much going on at your wedding already, and a henna tattoo is maybe not the choice you want to make for your big day, don't stress! There are other alternatives. For example, choosing henna simply for an engagement shoot or wedding announcements can be a great way to adorn yourself and have pictures to remember it by. Reach out with your concerns or ideas, and we can certainly bring together a menhdi experience that's perfect for you and your situation!
Whatever you choose, I wish youth best of luck on your wedding day and with your future union! Bridal henna can be a big and overwhelming choice so please feel free to ask your questions or make a comment below about your bridal mehdi experience.
Or did it find me? It's hard to say.
I was working an office job, it paid well and a learned a lot but it wasn't a passion of mine. In my free time from work I found myself lacking in inspiration, it was difficult for me to create anything at all. As a child i was consistently with some sort of creation in the works. Drawing, painting, singing, cooking, or something of the sort every single day. I missed being creative and working with my hands, and i realized I didn't even know when it really stopped. Computer and paper work 40+ hours a week was simply torturing my soul in and out of the workplace.
My boss at that time, though, was an amazing man. His name was Oliver, and he migrated from India to the states at just 22 years old, all on his own. At 60 something, he still had an accent so thick that most of my team members had trouble understanding him during large meetings. We had a special connection and quickly became friends. As I would go bother him during slow work hours, I was able to quickly learn his enunciations and way of speaking English. He would glow when asked to talk about his home and the culture in India. He could go on and on about how the weddings and celebrations were just spectacular, all the colorful fabrics and people. His parents were still living in that home town he grew up in, and he would go visit every few years and reminisce.
One of those chats led into mehendi. At the time, even with my interest in the Indian culture, I had no clue what henna was. We talked about the art form, and the people he knew in his town that worked with henna for weddings and other celebrations. I was so enthused and curious about this temporary body art that he vowed to bring me 'henna cones' so that I can enjoy the art of his country. He went to his favorite market that week, maybe 2 days later, and he brought me 3 cones! Not just a simple henna cone, he made sure to grab one of each color. A red henna, a green henna, and a black henna.
Now, of course, I'm cringing at the chemical compounds I was using to doodle with. These cones are dangerous and can give some people very bad reactions. Luckily, I had no reactions and covered every empty space on my skin I could reach. I drew on a few friends and family too. I just absolutely fell in love with henna. The meditative and temporary art pieces one could draw on the skin were endless. Boundless! With 1 of the 3 cones left, I packed up my things, sold my first house, and moved to Miami. Though I admit, not quite in that order haha
In Miami I was able to reinforce my newfound love and grow a solid relationship with mehndi. I worked a restaurant job while I slowly learned more and more about how this material was a plant and the way it worked with the skin. I transitioned to an all natural henna recipe after learning about the dangers of black or chemical henna cones.
This transition was actually fueled by an unlikely source: Craigslist! On Craigslist I met Nazha of NazaHenna and she taught be so incredibly much about henna and the South East Asian culture. She is a first born US native, with parents that migrated from Bangladesh. From her I was able to learn so many small details in henna designs, as she had been doing henna for 8 years already! We bonded over graphic and web design as well, and just really helped each other grow. As her team grew, the amount of gigs and weddings she was able to book also grew, which led to her team learning and working more!
Between this and my everyday henna practice paying off, I was able to go into freelancing full time during my 2nd year in Miami. With weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and even office parties, henna tattoos became my main source of income! How wonderful it feels to do what you love and actually thrive! When slow season approaches around August, I put more work into my graphic and web design expertise while I gear up for the next wedding season. Each season I learn something new, experience a new event or community, and I am absolutely loving the life I am able to lead. I am grateful every day for the blessing of henna and how it has connected me to so much more in this world! I plan to continue this journey and take henna with me around the world, to connect with the locals and learn from each other. January 2020 sets a 10 day trip in Israel and I cannot wait to discover what awaits. Stay tuned for more henna journeys.
If you are ever interested in learning how to do mehndi yourself, please contact me for classes! 1 on 1 and group classes available .
If you've never heard of henna tattoos, or are new to the wonderful henna plant, this is the place to be! Here we will touch on the history of henna, henna tattoos, when and how it is used in modern day, and a basic understanding of how henna works.
Henna has first been recorded as dye for the hair and cloth. People as far back as Egyptian (17th Dynasty, 1574 BCE) died their hair, eyebrows, and beards with henna for a bright red look. The prophet Mohammad is said to have had his beard dyed red with henna and put black kohl under his eyes. Along with this, the henna helps produce a rich red for fabrics and clothing. The popularity of henna is still on the rise with characters like Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy who referred to her red hair as a "henna rinse". Still now, even commercial dyeing companies use henna for their reds or red undertones for hairs and fabrics.
Henna Tattoos Today
Henna today has continued with tradition and has transformed. Today henna can be applied simply as a fashion statement or fun vacation memory to take back home with you. People even test out permanent tattoos by first getting a henna tattoo to see if they like the placement and idea for their tattoo. In addition to these more modern uses for the henna plant, there are many that keep the more original traditions alive. During weddings for many cultures, the bride, her mother, and the bridal party are adorned with henna tattoos This shows that traditional celebration, and also allows for creativity in what people might depict in their wedding henna. Even some grooms and men at the wedding receive a henna tattoo also!
In my opinion, the beautiful art of henna is for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Children, women, men, and all the rest. The great thing about henna is how safe for the skin it is, and makes it so accessible for anyone!
Because of these ingredients, we also have to keep henna tattoo paste refrigerated or frozen to keep it from going bad. Do watch out for any henna cones that are kept on a store shelf. Even if the label says all natural, there is at least a natural preservative included or worse; a dye called PPD. Preservatives and PPD can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to human skin, especially for those with sensitive skin. A great way to tell if your henna paste is good and natural is to smell it! If it smells faintly of chemicals, thats not an organic paste. If the henna smells over the top strongly of an essential oil, it might be natural henna that has gone bad by being in the heat or sun. A good smell for henna is a simple and pleasant smell of essential oil and some leafy or earthy smells mixed together. Very light on the nose and just smells good!
I hope you can now understand some of the magical properties of henna. Henna has brought me and many I know a great amount of healing and good into our lives. I am blessed to share this art and culture with you! If you're looking for more information about henna, come back soon. Posts on henna, jagua, graphic design, social media management, and tricks to running a business will be in the near future!
I am first + foremost, a creative. I love to take an idea and create it into something tangible. To build + organize a design, an idea, or a goal + see it actually materialize by my hands is something hard to describe. I will always cherish + cultivate my ability to do this. Here is a little about what I have learned + maybe peeks at my artistic life journey so far.