Henna tattoos are perfect for any event, from weddings to girls get-together. They are natural, they are beautiful, and they are temporary. Because one batch of henna goes a long way, henna tattoos are a great activity for parties and are especially fun for kids at a sleep over.What is henna? Henna is a plant typically grown across Asia. For centuries the ground leaves of henna have been used to produce a vibrant red-orange stain on the hair and skin, as the leaves naturally contain the dye molecule Lawsone.Materials for the Henna Paste:
Henna powder, 1/4 cup
Tea, strongly brewed, 2-3 tablespoons
Eucalyptus Oil, 3-5 drops
Materials for Applying the Tattoo:
Materials to Remove the Paste:
Cotton ballsStep 1: Check your henna for any sticks or large bits of plant matter. If your henna seems coarse, sift it carefully first. Mix the henna with very darkly brewed tea and the juice of 1/2 lemon, and a few drops of essential oil. Start by adding very small amounts of tea to the henna powder. The perfect consistency by comparing it to toothpaste: the goal is for the henna to be finer in texture than the toothpaste, and a slight bit more runny than toothpaste. Once you have the perfect blend, put it in the squeeze bottle and let it sit for at least one hour.
Step 2: Scrub the hand that is going to get the tattoo to remove any oils from the skin before you start. The cleaner the better. Pat it dry, and then start tattooing.
Step 3: Work from the center out. It’s so easy to smudge the henna, so if you move outward with the drawing, you are less likely to drag your own hand through the work you have already laid down.Step 4: As you draw, you will inevitably make mistakes. If the paste isn’t mixed perfectly, the squeeze bottle will sometimes burps out a blop. If this is a problem, remix the paste. Use the straight pin to clear any clogs from the tip.
Step 5: As soon as the henna is applied to the skin, it will begin to dry. The paste will crack as it dries, and when it starts to crack, that is when you can cover the tattoo with a mixture of lemon and sugar. Squeeze a wedge of lemon and mix it with a bit of sugar. When the henna has dried enough to be stable, re-moisten it by dabbing it with a cotton ball soaked in the lemon/sugar mixture. This has a twofold effect: the acid in the lemon helps the skin continue to take in the stain, and the sugar creates a sticky coating that helps hold the henna on the skin.Step 6: Leave the Henna on for as long as possible. Try to keep it on for 12 hours. Once the paste dries and has it’s sticky sugar coating, it will actually be very stable. As long as you keep your hand dry, it will stay on. If you can, sleep with the henna paste on your hand over night. Wrap your hand in toilet paper to keep it from smudging off on your sheets.
Step 7: The method you use to remove the henna will greatly determine how dark the design gets and how long it lasts. To give it the best chance, not use water to remove the paste! Instead use olive oil, or vegetable oil, or even essential oil. Soak a cotton ball in oil, and then rub the paste off gently. After you remove the henna, be aware that the design will continue to darken over the next 10-12 hours. In the early stages of your tattoo, water is the enemy. For at least the first day, stay away from it! That means don’t do dishes and don’t wash your hair while the design sets that day. Also in the beginning, avoid tasks that will be abrasive on your hands like gardening and wearing gloves. With all luck, the tattoo should last 1-2 weeks.Photo Credit: Getty