Henna FAQ

What is henna?

Henna is a plant called Lawsonia inermis. its also known as ‘henna tree’, ‘henna plant’ or ‘Egyptian privet’. Its the only one of its kind. It is native to the regions of northern Africa and southern Asia, and in many regions of the Middle East. The leaves of the henna plant are harvested a couple of times a year in seasons when the dye content of the leaves will be at their highest. The leaves are dried and then ground into a fine powder. Depending on what the powder is destined to be used for and what its quality is, it may be sifted to achieve a very fine powder like flour or baby powder which is used in body art, or it may be left slightly coarser if it is to be used for hair and textile dyes where a fine ground isn’t required.

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Who uses henna?

Henna has a rich history of dying skin, fingernails, hair, animals, leather and natural fabrics (silk and wool) for thousands of years. Nobody knows quite where it started, but henna was used in Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, many areas of the Middle east and in India and Pakistan. it was used by people in may cultures and religions and was not tied to one particular region or set of beliefs. Usually henna was reserved for women and children, but there are many instances where it was used to adorn men’s bodies as well. There have been Egyptian mummies who have been found with hennaed hair and nails. henna was originally used as a natural sunscreen for both people and animals, to help heal hard-working chapped and callused hands and feet, and in many different ways that make use of its medicinal, anti-fungal and cooling properties. In many areas, it was considered impolite and unhygienic to not have hennaed nails or fingertips. Henna was used in these ways long before it was used to create designs and beautiful artwork, and in some areas it continues to be used in these ways to this day.

Now, henna is widely spread and can be accessed by anyone. It’s still used in traditional ways to celebrate weddings and cultural ceremonies, but it has moved to the western world and has become a central part of many western activities and celebrations as well. Henna is flexible and ever-changing, which is part of what makes it beautiful and accessible for all.

There is one exception: henna is not appropriate for people who have G6DP Deficiency (Glucose-6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency).

Does it hurt?

Henna does not hurt. Henna is not a tattoo, it is a stain on the top few layers of your skin. The paste is applied to the top of the skin, whereas a tattoo uses ink and specialized needles and is introduced under the epidermis or first few layers of the skin. tattoos are permanent, henna is not.

alohatoronto2100% henna should not cause you any problems. If you have received a henna that has burned, hurt or otherwise been alarmingly uncomfortable, this was probably not pure henna. “Black henna” is dangerous and can  cause severe allergic reactions. I never use black henna nor do I support or the use of black henna anywhere, on anyone. adulterated henna is unfortunately sometimes easy to find and can be dangerous. Please make sure that your henna artist can personally vouch for what is in his or her paste and that they make it themselves or at the very least know and trust the person who made it.

Is it safe?

Yes, pure henna is safe. in fact, its probably one the safest and oldest cosmetics in the world. Henna is certainly much better for you than many other forms of makeup, many creams or other cosmetics.

If you are allergic to perfumes or citrus, please talk to your artist before getting henna done as many pastes use lemon juice and an essential oil like lavender or tea tree oil. Your artist can create a custom paste just for you to work around your sensitivities.

There is one exception: henna is not appropriate for people who have G6DP Deficiency (Glucose-6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency).

How long does it take to apply?

It depends on the size and the detail of the design. small designs can take just a few minutes, large and complicated designs like whole arms, sleeves, crowns, back pieces or belly blessing can take an hour or more.

how long will it last?

Henna typically lasts between 1-2 weeks. It can last longer than that, and often does. It depends on our own skin type and how fast you exfoliate. Some people just stain better than others, but a good henna and an experienced artist should be able to achieve a stain on anyone.

How does it stain my skin and what colour will I get?

henna stains the top layers of your skin. those top layers are dead skin cells that are waiting to flake off, and as they do exfoliate away your stain will fade. At first, the colour of a fresh stain is bright orange but this will darken in time. henna can be brown, coppery, of even dark cherry red depending on the paste, the crop year, and how well the wearer takes care of their new stain. There are some hennas that when applied under the right conditions and cared for well, can turn black in some places where the paste was thickest. This is not black henna it is jut a very fresh henna applied on a person who takes stains very well.

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I have dark skin, will I still get a stain?

Yes, if you have dark skin you can still achieve a great stain. In fact, your stain may be darker than someone who is fair-skinned, simply because your skin is that much darker to begin with. Think of the regions where henna originated from – most of the people living there who used henna were not fair-skinned. Henna is not a set colour but rather transparent and will work with the colour of your skin and build up a darker colour using your skin colour as a base.

What is in your henna paste?

my henna paste contains 100% pure henna which I get directly from reputable sources. I mix it with Lemon juice and sugar and add a couple drops of lavender essential oil. Lavender oil is known to be one of the safest essential oils to use on your skin.Henna paste should consist of henna, something acidic, a form of sugar and a safe essential oil – that’s all it needs. avoid pastes with long ingredients list or any ingredient you dont trust or find suspicious.

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Do you use black henna?

No, I  never use black henna.

Black henna is illegal in North America but this doesn’t mean you can’t find it. Black henna actually contains no henna at all, but is a hair dye that is very dangerous to you. Black henna (or any adulterated, fake ‘henna’) can leave you with lifelong scars, chemical burns or in a rare few cases, life-threatening conditions.  Please speak with your henna artist to be sure that they are useing only 100% pure henna and make sure that the colour you will be getting is not black, or any other unnatural colour. You need to take it upon yourself to do your own research.

How do I take care of my henna stain?

Once your stain is sealed, you need to wear that paste for as long as you can. Four hours or more is ideal. Many people wear their paste overnight. the longer the paste sits on your skin, the darker the stain will be. when you are ready, scrape the paste off with your fingernails or a butter knife or a spoon. The resulting ‘henna crumbs’ are still potent, so if its nice outside, go do this outside. If you cant get outside, do this over a sink or standing in the bathtub as the ‘crumbs’ will stain our carpet, furniture and clothing. If you have any little bits of past that are really resistant and just want to stay with you for a bit longer, you can leave them there or use a little olive or vegetable oil to massage them off. try to avoid the stain coming into contact with water for 24-48 hours while the colour is darkening, as the water can affect the depth of colour you will get in the end.

the colour of the stain will start out bright orange but will darken over time as it blooms to its full colour. the colour of the stain will be darker on your hands and feet and lighter on areas closer to the core of your body. Some parts of your body stain better than others, so dont expect even colour over a large piece such as a design on the palm that extends down the arm, or a design on the top of your foot that extends up past your ankle.

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To preserve you stain and keep it looking fresh and brilliant for longer, I recommend using one of our henna balms. You can find them in our shop or you can purchase them from me at your appointment. The ingredients in the balms are specially selected to moisturize and protect yous skin which helps you keep your stain looking beautiful for longer.

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