Frequently asked questions
What is henna or mendhi? What is in henna paste? Is henna safe? Does henna come in different colours? What kind of designs are available? Can I be hennaed if I'm pregnant? Is henna the same as a tattoo? How is henna applied? How long does it take? How do I take care of my henna? (Aftercare Tips) How long does henna body art last? How do I prepare for my henna session?
WHAT IS HENNA OR MENDHI?
Henna is the Arabic word for the "lawsonia inermis" plant. It is also called "mendhi" in many parts of India but it has also been known under that names of hina, heena, henné, mehndi, menhdi, mehandi and mendi. It is a desert shrub that favours hot dry environments such as in many parts of the Middle East, Southern Asia and Northern Africa. It can grown up to 20-25 feet tall and has sweet scented blossoms. The leaves of the henna plant are harvested several times a year. They are carefully dried and ground into a fine greenish-brown powder; which is then used mixed with other natural ingredients to make henna paste. Henna has been used for thousands of years by many cultures as a cosmetic embellishment during auspicious occasions, such as weddings and other celebrations. Most often it is the skin, hair and nails; but it is often used as a decorations in other crafts such as wood, fabric, leather and even wax candles. It has been and is still in practice by many different cultures such as Muslim, Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Hindu. Henna is not associated with any one culture in particular, and each has it's own traditions regarding the use of henna. Henna is also not associated with any particular religion, but it is often used as part of various religious celebrations. Many consider it to be a blessing that brings good luck, health and wealth to the wearer and in some societies it is believed that henna can ward off the evil eye. Henna also has been associated with medicinal properties in controlling foot health issues (such as rashes, athlete's foot and ringworm), and is a natural sunscreen and skin cooling agent.
WHAT IS IN HENNA PASTE?
There are a variety of personal recipes that henna artists use; however most of them contain several of the following ingredients: henna powder, water, tea, lemon juice, sugar, honey, molasses, and essential oils. It will smell natural and earthy and possibly a bit herbal, depending on the essential oil that was used. Traditionally, lavender is used in henna pastes that will be used on pregnant women or children, because it is one of the mildest of the essential oils.
IS HENNA SAFE?
Henna is one of the oldest recorded cosmetics in human history as it has been used for thousands of years. Real henna is safe to use on people of all ages, including children above the age of 7 and on pregnant women. If you have allergies to certain essential oils, it is a good idea to discuss it with your henna artist as these are often used in henna paste. If your doctor has told you that you have G6PD, or you are allergic to fava beans and aspirin, you should avoid using henna. Young children under the age of 7 and babies have thinner skin that has not yet developed it's full acid-balancing capabilities and should therefore avoid using henna -- in such cases we offer glitter embellishments as an alternative.
DOES HENNA COME IN DIFFERENT COLOURS?
True henna always stains the skin in various shades of oranges, reds and browns; from a light orange to a deep cherry red or dark chocolate stain. Real henna paste must stay on the skin for several hours in order to stain. Dried henna paste is a very dark brown in colour. **(Photos on this site which seem very dark are actually showing dried henna paste.) Real henna is NEVER black! So-called "black henna" actually contains PPD, a toxic chemical which can often cause severe allergic reactions and permanent rashes. Stay safe and stay away from anything called "black henna"! It is often seen being offered in touristy areas, such as beach-side resorts, carnivals and amusement parks. Always ask what is in the henna paste, and if in doubt, do NOT have it applied to you. Black henna is illegal in Canada, please read: Health Canada's Advisory on "Black Henna".
WHAT KIND OF DESIGNS ARE AVAILABLE?
We have a large selection of both traditional and modern henna pattern and design books for our clients to browse through in order to select a design. There is also a special design book of simpler designs for use at group events, in order to allow for quicker flow-through of clients. This ensures that the maximum number of people can enjoy the henna experience. Custom henna designs can also be created just for you, based on your descriptions and freehand sketches, or on your supplied reference materials.
CAN I BE HENNAED IF I'M PREGNANT?
Yes, henna is safe to apply on pregnant women. We use only pure henna paste with lavender for belly henna, as it is the mildest of essential oils. Do be aware that very large bellies may have very thin skin that does not stain as dark as other parts of the body.
IS HENNA THE SAME AS A TATTOO?
No, henna is a painless temporary artform that does NOT pierce the skin the way that tattooing with inks does. Henna is a plant paste that is applied only to the surface of the skin and allowed to dry and stay on the skin for several hours while it stains the skin. Henna body art will only last 1-3 weeks, so that you can experiment with a variety of designs, unlike tatoos which are permanent and can be very painful and costly to remove.
HOW IS HENNA APPLIED? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
Henna is applied on the skin as a paste, either using a small cone or a j-bottle applicator. Clients often find that it is a cooling and calming experience. Small simple designs can take as little as 10-15 minutes, medium ones from 30-45 minutes. Complex designs such as for weddings or those covering a large area can take several hours to apply. After the henna paste has dried, it is sprayed with several light coats of sealant to help keep the dried paste from falling off too quickly. Depending on the area, sometimes a protective layer of clear medical tape is applied to keep it from being rubbed off. The paste is left on for at least 4-6 hours or overnight for best results. It is then scraped or peeled off; under no conditions should the paste be washed off with water as this will cause the stain to be very faded!
HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF MY HENNA? (AFTERCARE TIPS)
When the paste is freshly removed, the henna stain will be a light orange colour and will deepen in colour over the next 2-3 days. If you plan on displaying your henna body art for a specific event (party, prom or wedding); you should have the henna applied at least 3 days ahead of time so that it has time to develop into it's full stain. Henna stains several skin cells deep; as your skin exfoliates the stain will gradually wear and fade away. You should avoid getting water on your unprotected henna stain for the first 24 hours in order to help the henna stain to it's best effect. Avoid harsh cleaning products, abrasives, or chlorinated water (such as in spas, hot tubs and swimming pools). If necessary, protect it with a specialized henna aftercare balm, shea butter or a lotion that does not contain alpha hydroxy acids, or even rubber gloves if you have to be exposed to the above conditions. These simple precautions will help you to keep your henna body art looking it's best and last for the longest possible time.
HOW LONG DOES HENNA BODY ART LAST?
Depending on what part of the body that it is applied on, henna will generally last anywhere from 7 to 21 days, in some cases it can last even longer. Making sure to leave the dried henna paste on for at least 4-6 hours at the minimum; from 6-8 hours or overnight will enable it to stain the skin deeper, meaning that it will last longer. Good aftercare by the client is also essential in keeping it looking good and lasting longer. (See above for aftercare instructions)
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY HENNA SESSION?
Bathe, shower and exfoliate your skin *before* your session and do NOT apply any lotions on the area to be hennaed. Be sure to dress comfortably, with easy access to the area to be hennaed. If you are having your feet done, it might be best to wear something loose such as flip-flops. If you are having the palms of your hands done, be sure to have a ride or lift home instead of driving! Waxing, manicuring and nail polish should be done ahead of time so as to not ruin your henna! For an understated look, go for a classic french manicure, pale or sheer colours. For a more dramatic look, darker nail polish colours such as red, burgundy, bronze or even gold can be stunning!