This is a simple recipe for mixing henna. Its simplicity is one of the
reasons we use it. Except for the henna powder, all the tools and materials
needed to mix the recipe and apply the paste can be found in most kitchens,
or at almost any grocery store. Also. because it's simple, it's an easy
recipe to teach and for others to learn and remember.
are new to henna painting, this recipe is a good start, but look around
at what other practicioners are doing too. Keep in mind that no recipe
is a guarantee of immediate success because there are a great many
variables that affect the results you get, so you have to be willing
to inquire and experiment until you find a combination of materials
and techniques that works for you.
a batch of henna paste, you'll need:
powder (one ounce will decorate six people’s hands)...
- A few
ounces of very strong tea or coffee...
lemons or limes...
- A tea
strainer or a fine seive...
- A wooden
or stainless steel spoon...
- A ceramic,
glass or stainless steel bowl to mix the henna...
- A small
bowl for the lemon or lime juice...
rule in mixing henna is that the more acidic the mixture, the darker
the stain. If the paste doesn't give a dark enough stain, add lemon
or lime juice to the paste.
Mixing the henna paste...
the strainer to sift the henna powder into a bowl.
the juice from one lemon or lime into the bowl with the henna powder,
and stir the mixture, adding just enough lemon or lime juice to make the
henna form a paste as thick as cookie dough. Save at least one more lemon
or lime for the next day.
just enough very hot, very strong tea or coffee to make the henna paste
a little softer than tooth paste, then stir the paste until it is very
smooth. Cover the henna paste and leave it over night for the dye to develop.
Decorating with henna...
I don't do any special skin preparation before applying
henna. My experience has been that if the skin is clean and dry, and free
of residues from lotions and oils, and if the henna paste is acidic enough,
the henna paste will color the skin without any other treatment.
and surprisingly useful tool for applying henna is a flat toothpick.
They're easy to come by, cheap, durable, and they are the right size
and give the right amount of control for doing fine and complex patterns.
And, for the tradition-minded among you, a sliver of wood or bone is
commonly used as a henna application tool in some places in the world.
You can use the broad end of the toothpick like a tiny spatula for laying
on the henna paste, and the edges for shaping the lines and removing
any excess. The pointed end works well for applying small amounts of
henna paste in tight spaces.
is also a better tool than a brush if you use unsifted henna powder,
because the unsifted henna can quickly clog up a brush and make it difficult
prefer brushes, we recommend you make your paste with finely sifted
henna powder and use a small, fine brush such as a fine oil painting
or lip liner brush. You might also want to soften the paste with more
lemon juice to make it flow more easily from the bristles.
in the henna will be most effective on the palms of the hands, and the
soles of the feet. The henna will usually show less strongly on other
parts of the body.
perspiration will make the dye darker on the skin. Also, the henna will
dye more strongly if it is kept moist and left on the skin for at least
six hours. Wrapping is a good way to hold the henna in place and keep
it from drying so the dye will make a dark stain on the skin.
How to make a squeeze applicator...
Well-sifted henna can be used to make the lace-like
patterns seen in traditional Pakistani henna decoration. A cone made of
a piece of plastic cut out of a freezer bag is a good tool for applying
fine and intricate decorations. However if you have bought one of our
Henna Kits, you get a few ready-to-use applicator cones and you can simply
put a tablespoon full of the henna paste into the cone and proceed with
a square 5"x5" out of a plastic freezer bag. Have 10 1" to 2" pieces of
tape ready. Put a tablespoon of henna paste on the center of the plastic
square. The henna should be about the consistency of toothpaste.
up one side, then the other to make a cone shape.
the tip of the cone between your thumb and forefinger until the hole at
the tip of the cone is about the diameter of a sewing needle, then wrap
the plastic around the sides of the cone around smoothly and neatly.
the sides and firm the cone tip with tape. Fold down the top and tape
it. Tape every spot that is likely to ooze henna all over your hands when
you squeeze the cone. Also, wrap tape around the tip of the cone to hold
its shape. A tapestry needle is a handy tool for keeping the tip clear
so the henna paste flows smoothly.
the cone as you would a cake decorator to make fine lines by gently squeezing
the henna paste out of the tip.
Wrapping it up...
I've been experimenting with different ways of wrapping henna work for
a couple of years. I first heard about wrapped henna work in articles
about the Tuareg, a desert people who traditionally henna both the bride
and groom before a wedding. To conserve water, they will use leaves, rags,
or even plastic bags to wrap the couple's feet and hands after the henna
is applied. Other people use wrapping with henna as well, especially groups
that live in dry climates. Even in a less arid climate, wrapping can be
helpful. The henna has to stay in place for several hours to leave a dark
stain, and wrapping can keep an intricate design from being spoiled by
want to try wrapping, here's what you'll need:
paper...toilet rolls are easiest to use for spiral wrapping around
an arm or leg.
wrap...the rolls of plastic film used to cover food work best.
tape...get the type that comes in rolls about 2in. (5cm.) wide.
the henna to dry on your skin, but not to flake off! I've been using a
liquid bandage compound called "New Skin" as a fixative to help hold the
henna in place. It also seems to promote the henna's reaction with the
skin and make a darker stain. You can find New Skin in pharmacies in the
first aid section). It's is not absolutely necessary to use New Skin,
but I think it's helpful. Try it and see if it works for you.
wrap your dry henna patterns to your skin with unrolled cotton balls,
toilet paper or paper tape. It is important not to dislodge any of your
wrap the tissue with a layer of plastic wrap, This will make your skin
warmer, and make it perspire a little. Your perspiration will make the
henna slightly damp again, and increase its reaction with your skin.
hold everything in place. wrap the layers of tissue and plastic with packing
tape. Your wrap should be very firm, so the henna is held securely in
place on the skin.
good wrap will make your henna much darker! A careful wrap will keep your
henna exactly in place all night as you sleep, too.