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Henna has been used since the Bronze Age to dye skin (including body art), hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool. In several parts of the world it is traditionally used in various festivals and celebrations. There is mention of henna as a hair dye in Indian court records around 400 CE, in Rome during the Roman Empire, and in Spain during Convivencia. It was listed in the medical texts of the Ebers Papyrus (16th c BCE Egypt) and by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (14th c CE (Syria and Egypt) as a medicinal herb. In Morocco, wool is dyed and ornamented with henna, as are drumheads and other leather goods.
Use of henna for body art has enjoyed a recent renaissance due to improvements in cultivation, processing, and the emigration of people from traditional henna-using regions.
For skin dyeing, a paste of ground henna (either prepared from a dried powder or from fresh ground leaves) is placed in contact with the skin from a few hours to overnight. Henna stains can last a few days to a month depending on the quality of the paste, individual skin type, and how long the paste is allowed to stay on the skin.
Henna also acts as an anti-fungal and a preservative for leather and cloth. It was listed in the medical texts of the Ebers Papyrus (16th c BCE Egypt) and by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (14th c CE (Syria and Egypt) as a medicinal herb.
Henna flowers have been used to create perfume since ancient times, and henna perfume is experiencing a resurgence. Henna repels some insect pests and mildew.
Henna's coloring properties are due to lawsone, a burgundy organic compound that has an affinity for bonding with protein. Lawsone is primarily concentrated in the leaves, especially in the petioles of the leaf. Lawsone content in leaves is negatively correlated with the number of seeds in the fruits This temporary body art is created using matter from the Henna plant found in parts of Africa, Southern Asia, and Northern Australasia.
The burgundy dye molecule found in Henna loves to bond with protein which is why it works so well for dying skin, hair, fingernails, leather, silk, and even wool.
Henna has been known to be used as a preservative for leather and repellent of mildew and some insects.
The stain can last for quite some time depending on quality of product, personal skin type, and length of contact. Generally speaking, stains can last anywhere from 3 days to a month.
To turn Henna leaves into the usable paste, it first must be ground to a powder, sifted, and mixed with some helpful liquids to get the dye flowing. First you will need something acidic (lemon juice is commonly used), essential oils (Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Cajeput, or Lavender are all fair game), and sometimes even sugar! The sugar can add a nice, stringy consistency which is desired for intricate patterns. The mix will be left to work its magic for 6-12 hours, after which the paste will be ready for skin! The paste is commonly applied with mylar cones, sometimes syringes, or even brushes.
Once applied you will want to keep that paste on for up to 8 hours. In this time, your design will dry and crack so squirt it with some lemon juice and keep it covered. When you scrape off the dried medium you will have a redish-brown design that will continue to darken over the next 72 hours. Certain areas of the body will stain better than others. Hands and feet are the best.
Henna has a commonplace among special occasions in the mediterranean and Middle East. To this day, it is very popular for Brides to be adorned with stunning, intricate designs!
You can find lots of great info and designs here!:
Beware of anything claiming to be "Black Henna". No stain with pure henna will be truly black. products advertised as such may contain harmful chemicals that can damage your skin!