Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some common questions. If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to ask me!
what is henna?
Henna is a plant. The leaves are ground into powder, which I mix at home with lemon juice and/or water and some essential oils and sugar to make a paste. The naturally occurring lawsone in the henna naturally stains the skin (or hair or nails) by bonding with keratin. Henna is NEVER black (see below for details).
how long does it take?
Application: The short answer is "anywhere from one minute to two hours." How long it takes to apply depends on what you want. The larger/more complicated the design, the longer it takes.
Drying time: It takes about 15-20 minutes to dry, or a bit more for especially thick applications.
Stain progression: Stains from natural henna develop fully over 24-48 hours. When you first remove the paste, it will be bright orange. It will deepen to a dark brown or a deep burgundy over the next two to four days. (See below for complete aftercare instructions.)
How long does it last?
By following the three simple steps below, your henna stain can last up to three weeks.
- Leave the paste on as long as possible--at least four hours, but overnight is better!
- Remove it by scraping, not washing.
- Avoid water as much as possible--put a natural oil over your stain before bathing, and use gloves when cleaning.
what sorts of designs do you offer?
I can work with you to come up with a design, base my work on something you already have in mind, or bring my design book to provide ideas. Designs range from fairly traditional indo-arabic (floral/paisley) to more modern (feathers, dream catchers).
how much does it cost?
Pricing can be per design (like at festivals) or by the hour (better for parties or large designs). Contact me for details!
how do i know it's safe?
Few people are allergic to natural henna. Reactions are usually caused by cheap chemical substitutes, such as commercial cones or what you may have heard referred to as 'black henna.' Natural henna paste needs to be stored frozen to maintain its dye content. Commercial cones are not stored frozen, so manufacturers add preservatives such as kerosene, turpentine, or gasoline to the paste to preserve the stain.
how can i tell if it's natural henna or the chemical stuff?
- Ask the artist for a list of ingredients. Someone using natural henna should be able to tell you every ingredient. "Don't worry, it's all natural" is not good enough, and sometimes indicates the artist isn't sure what's in it, or worse, doesn't want you to know.
- Smell the paste. Natural henna smells good, like plants and essential oils. Chemical cones smell like chemicals.
- Look at the paste. If it is very red, gel-like, or thick and matte black, it is not henna. Natural henna paste will be dark olive green to dark brown when applied to the skin.
- Ask what color the stain will be. If the answer is anything other than something along the lines of, "it will start off bright orange and darken to a reddish-brown/burgundy color over 24-48 hours," it's probably not natural henna.
- Ask how long you would have to leave it on. Because chemical cones can cause chemical burns, it is recommended that the paste be removed within an hour. Natural henna should be left on for a minimum of four hours.
what is 'black henna?'
There is no such thing as black henna. Natural henna is NEVER black. You may have seen (maybe at the beach) people applying or wearing designs that look like thick, black ink. This is not actually henna, but PPD, a very toxic chemical derived from coal tar. It causes damage to the liver and kidneys and can cause a chemical burn on the skin, with permanent scarring. These adverse reactions happen when the body becomes sensitized to the toxins in the PPD. Once sensitized, repeated exposure to PPD (including in hair dyes) can be fatal. Let me repeat: real henna is NEVER black, and does not cause these reactions.
what is 'white henna?'
Henna is not white, either. White henna-style designs are made either with body paint or body adhesive and mica or glitter. These usually last 3-10 days, depending on where they are on the body, as the designs sit on top of the skin and can rub off, rather than staining the skin like henna.
what is jagua?
Jagua is a citrus-related fruit that grows in Brazil. Its juice stains the skin blue. Lately, many henna artists have been experimenting with mixing their henna paste using jagua juice (unpasteurized) or jagua gel (pasteurized) instead of or in addition to lemon juice or water. This mix results in a darker brown stain than the typical maroon you get from henna, or even a dark navy or black stain, depending on the ratio of jagua in the paste.
This is NOT the same thing as the toxic PPD mentioned above. Jagua is all-natural, although people (especially those with citrus sensitivities or berry allergies) can develop itchy reactions to jagua on occasion. These reactions are histamine reactions, as with other general allergies.
Please see the list above for how to tell if an artist's paste is safe or toxic--the same guidelines apply for paste mixed with jagua as for natural henna, as do the warning signs to spot a toxic paste.
Ready to book your appointment or party? Contact me today. I look forward to seeing you soon!