WHAT IS HENNA?
Henna is a flowering shrub that has origins dating back to ancient times, although its exact origin is not clear. Using henna for body art can be traced back to 5000 years ago among various countries of the world. It grows in the tropical climates of Africa, northern Australia, and southern Asia.
It is said to have been used by Cleopatra to adorn her body and by the Ancient Egyptians to paint the nails of mummies before burial. It is also thought that it originated in the deserts of India where people discovered that it had a cooling effect and so used to apply it as a means of keeping their hands and feet cool.
HOW IS IT APPLIED?
The leaves are dried and turned into a fine powder. This powder is then mixed with a liquid, (usually water or lemon juice), that can be used to dye clothing, hair or skin. Essential oils such as Lavender or Eucalyptus is added to create richer, darker stains.
Cones made from cellophane are usually used to execute designs, but in certain parts of the world, such as Morocco, a blunt syringe is filled with paste instead or a bottle applicator. The result is a temporary orange stain that differs in strength of colour dependent upon the length of time it is left on.
Moroccan Application Using a Syringe
Today, different cultures and regions of the world use henna tattoos in their own unique ways. For many cultures, henna is painted on the bride to symbolise joy and beauty, and for others, it can symbolise spirituality and the keeping away of the evil eye.
Depending on where you get henna tattoos, they will look different. Indian tattoos feature fine lines and floral patterns, and often fuller in execution. Moroccan henna incorporates triangular or geometric design and African henna patterns are usually bolder.
WHITE HENNA / BLACK HENNA- KEEP IT 100% SAFE!
There is no such thing as black or white henna. White henna is simply body paint that is easily removed. For black tattoos, a chemical called PPD (para-phenylenediamine) is added to the mix which can give you blisters, scars, and lasting chemical sensitivity. When buying ready-made henna, always look at the ingredients (price will always indicate what you are getting!)
Jagua gel is a natural ink made with the extract of the Jagua fruit, an edible fruit that grows in the rain forests of Central and South America.
As opposed to black henna, Jagua gel is 100% natural and safe.
Both henna and Jagua last for up to two weeks, but this is dependent upon whether after-care instructions have been followed, such as scraping off and moisturising with an oil and avoidance of water for a few hours after removal. A person who works in catering or the cleaning industry, for example, with hands always in detergent and water may find that it may not last as long!
Henna is becoming a more integrated form of art that has come a long way from the traditional perception it had confined to weddings and brides. Celebrities now are often opting for a simpler ‘strip’ design, back or wrist tattoos for photo shoots or evenings out. Girlie henna parties and hen nights using temporary tattoos are also becoming trendy! It is also a very good way of testing if a tattoo is your kind of thing or not before you take the plunge!