Practiced for five thousand years throughout India, Africa, and the Middle East, Mehndi is the act of painting the body with preparations made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant. Whether it be in the preparation for a special occasion or in celebration of a particular event, it has always been done with the assumption that the act would engender good fortune, happy results, and good feelings.
Doing mehndi yourself is loads of fun, even if you are just a beginner. It is kind the kind of art form that encourages you to let your creativity run wild.
Making the henna paste:
You will need: 1 C water, 2 T black tea, 3 T powdered and sifted henna, 1 tsp. eucalyptus oil
In order to avoid problems during the application process, you must sift the henna powder before making paste. (You can purchase the powder by calling 1-800-224-5600, or contact a local supplier.)
Bring the water to a boil. Add black tea, and let steep overnight. Pour the tea through a strainer. Pour the sifted henna powder into a plastic bowl and add oil to the powder. Do not mix! Add approximately 3 T of the tea to the henna powder, a tablespoon at a time, and stir the ingredients together with a small silver or metal spoon. Using the back of the spoon, press the mixture into the sides of the bowl, working to get the grittiness out of the paste. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set for 12 hours.
Applying the henna:
You will need: Henna paste/applicator, Eucalyptus oil, cotton balls, one small bowl filled with a mixture of lemon juice and sugar. (1 1/2 lemon to 1 tsp. sugar or 2 T concentrated lemon juice to 1 tsp. sugar.) , paper towels, supply of cotton swabs, and flat toothpicks, straight pins.
You can apply to henna paste using a squeeze bottle, a toothpick, a syringes, a pastry bag and any other creative solution you might think of.
- Shave off any hair from the area to be painted.
- Once you have selected a design from a design book, wash area completely.
- Dip your fingertips into eucalyptus oil and gently massage a drop or two into the area to be painted.
- Apply the henna design
- Use cotton swabs and toothpicks to smooth out the lines or fix mistakes.
- Let henna dry for 10 to 15 minutes
- Once it is dry, dip a cotton ball into the bowl with the lemon/sugar mixture and gently dab the design. (This will help provide moistness and stickiness, which will help the henna design adhere to the skin. Heat and moisture are key to the proper penetration of the henna into the skin. So try to stay warm. Hang out in the sun and drink warm tea.
- For best results, the henna paste should be left on the skin for 12 to 20 hours, the longer the better.
- To remove the henna, dampen the paste with a cotton ball dipped in olive oil. This helps loosen the paste so that only the cotton ball rubbed on the skin in a vigorous fashion should be all you need to do to get it off. The oil also helps boost the color. If there is a stubborn residue, use a dull edge of a knife to get it off. The color you see just after you take the henna paste off will deepen almost by 50 percent the following day.
- For the first 4 to 5 hours after removal of the henna paste, avoid wetting the area. If possible, it is best to keep the area away from water for one full day.