Henna is not simply gorgeous, but symbolic, too. The art of temporarilly staining the skin (called Mehndi) has roots far and wide that date some 5,000 years back, used in various cultures with various significances. In India - where we tend to associate these breathtaking designs - henna most commonly marks the celebration of love, one of the most important rituals done before a wedding.
Whether with friends or kids, a henna ritual can be used to mark all manner of milestones, is a great way to connect with one another or can simply be beautiful skin decoration.
It is possible to buy henna kits, howeve some have been known to contain chemicals that are unsafe, especially when applied to the skin! Silver nitrate, carmine and pyrogallol should all be avoided. Take the DIY route. It adds an extra special touch to your ritual and ensures your henna is safe for all to use.
What You'll Need
- Black tea (in a tea bag)
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Approximately 1 cup henna powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
What to Do
1. Boil 2 inches of water in a saucepan. Take the pan off the heat and add the black teabag to infuse for several hours.
2. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil and allow to infuse overnight.
3. Heat the mixture to a warm temperature, then slowly add it to a bowl of henna powder and ground cloves, stirring with a wooden spoon. You may not need to use all of the water. You want a thin paste, almost the consistency of yogurt.
4. Add lemon juice, then add more of the water mixture until it resembles the consistency of toothpaste.
5. Transfer the paste to an airtight container, where it can be stored for up to two days.
How to Use
The best way I've found for the less artistically inclined among us is to use an icing bag fitted with the smallest decorating tip you can find. This will ensure for a smooth, precise application. You'll want to make sure that the skin to be painted is clean, and you can rub a little eucalyptus over it, which will extend the life of your art. Now, it's time to get your henna on. Paint on the design that calls to you. Let it dry for half an hour, allowing the paint to start to slough off. A few hours later, you can wash off any remaining dried paste. Now, you have anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to revel in your new exotic vibe. Keep it moisturized and it'll last a little longer.
image: Tela Chhe