Healing Henna ~ All-Natural Body Art
Henna allnatural temporary body art, is a blessing, a wish of good luck, and a simple act of self love. Henna marks the occasion and has been apart of rituals, celebrations and rites of passage in an abundance of cultures throughout the remembered history of mankind. Henna is an important part of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and many other cultural traditions and has been shared from one person to another for centuries. Henna used for temporary body art and beautification has transcended cultural and physical boundaries throughout history and has a magical way of becoming apart of any celebration, ritual and daily life.
What is Henna?
Henna is a shrubbery.... Yes, it is a shrubbery! The henna plant is also known as Lawsonia Inermis. The leaves of the henna plant are dried and ground into a powder. The powder is mixed into a paste, and when applied to the skin it will stain the skin and leave a temporary tattoo. The henna tattoo will fade as your skin exfoliates. Henna can also permanently stain or dye other materials like animal skins on a drum, fabric and wood. Henna is also a wonderful natural dye, treatment and conditioner for hair.
Ingredients used to mix the henna powder into a paste may include water, black tea, lemon juice, sugar and essential oils. The henna paste soaks into the top few layers of skin, leaving a stain or tattoo. The henna tattoo will be a bright orange color within the first few hours, then will develop into a darker reddish/brown color over the next 24-48 hours. An all-natural henna tattoo will last 1-4 weeks, depending on where it is applied and how well you follow the henna aftercare instructions.
Henna is never black! In fact, Black Henna is dangerous and contains chemicals known as PPD from black hair dye that can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Please visit The Henna Page for more info about the dangers of black henna. And always make sure your henna artist is using fresh all-natural henna!
Where does Henna come from?
Henna comes from planet earth ~ the dry, desert climates found in Southwest Asia through the Middle Eastern and North Africa give the henna plant the perfect atmosphere it needs when produced for dying skin. The henna plant is indigenous to these areas, which makes sense when you consider the medicinal quality that henna posesses. Henna can do more than dye the skin. Henna will drop your body temperature and cool you down. Henna is perfect to do on a hot day. Plants with medicinal qualities such as this, tend to grow where they are most needed, which is why henna would be native to th dry, desert climates of Asia and Africa.
Henna used on hair and skin for body adornment and beautification are ancient practices. Earliest evidence of the use of henna has been found in the tombs of Queen Hatsheput and Ramsees II from approx. 3400 B.C. Both ancient egyptian mummified royalty were found with henna dyed hair, finger tips and toes. There is other evidence that henna was a staple crop traded during the Bronze Age throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa. As people moved about the globe, they brought the henna plant and henna traditions with them. Henna is apart of many different cultures and traditions throughout India, Pakistan, Middle Eastern and North African countries. Today, henna is used by many people throughout the world.
Henna Stain After 24 Hours
Henna will stain darkest on your palms and fingertips and fade as it reaches higher up your arm. Henna tattoos will last 1-4 weeks, depending on placement and how well you take care of it.
How Henna Works
The natural dye within the henna leaves and powder is released over time through a process known as oxidation. The dye begins to release when you apply moisture and heat. Over time, usually a period of 24-48 hours, the dye content in the henna paste will peak, where it will stain the darkest, and then slowly deteriorate over time.
Henna stains your skin. The top layers of skin absorb the henna dye. As your skin exfoliates, the henna stain will fade. The henna dye is also transparent, meaning it sits on top of your skin like a lens, adding color to your beautifully natural skin color. Every person's skin will reflect a slightly different shade. But the henna stain color will always range from a bright pumpkin orange color to a dark reddish/brown.
Henna stain results depend on the your skin type and where you place the design. Dry skin areas like hands and feet stain the darkest. Oily skin areas can be more difficult to achieve a dark stain. Henna stain results can also be effected by your body temperature. If you are cold, your pores contract, not allowing the henna to be absorbed into the skin, and will not result in a very dark color. It is best to keep warm after you receive henna, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area!
Read tips on How to Prepare for your Henna Appointment and Henna Aftercare
How is Henna Healing?
Henna for a pregnant mother preparing to give birth to her first child. Intentions: releasing fear, ease in birth, balance and protection
Allnatural henna body art is a special addition to any ritual, ceremony or rite of passage, and is a beautiful way to mark or bless an occasion. It can also be a tool to assist you through a healing process. You can choose designs or symbols that represent your intentions, and place the design on areas of the body that you want to focus on or send healing energy to. Connecting with the Tree of Life symbol on your ankle with the intention of grounding more fully into your life purpose, or adorning your arm with paisleys and butterflies to strengthen positive transformations in your life, are beautiful, temporary and all-natural ways to invite healing into your life.
The natural process of receiving henna encourages you to be quiet and still and to meditate with your intentions. Your henna tattoo will then last 1-4 weeks, as a gentle reminder of your intentions.
Healing Henna Altar ~ Bridget's Cross, addorning my henna drum, watches over my water crystal infusion. This particular formula was for a Heart Healing ~ Relationship loss & grief ~ Clearing Ties & Negative Energy including larimar, amethyst, citrine, rose quartz, garnet, hematite and jade.
The intentions are in the mix ~ For special private appointments, healing henna sessions or sacred ceremonies, Robyn Jean will create formulas of essential ingredients to use in the henna paste that will help you to ground more fully and absolutely with the intentions you would like to set. The henna paste is made with all-natural organic henna powder and other organic ingredients including: sugar, black tea, lemon juice and custom blends of essential oils. Water infused with crystal energy healing is made for special healing henna sessions. This crystal infused water is used in the tea and blended into the henna paste. Custom remedies may include garnet, rose quartz, larimar, amethyst, citrine, blood stone, celenite, and hematite among others. Essential oils may include cajeput, ravensara, palmrosa, clove, cardamom, cypress, lavender, rose geranium, frankincense, palo santo or jasmine.
Robyn Jean is a Reiki II initiate and studies herbal medicine, essential oils and aromatherapy to accompany her henna practice. She has been apart of many private appointments and gatherings that are intended as healing rituals. Some of the ceremonies have included healing women's confidence and body image, adorning the heads of women who are battling cancer, creating designs for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one or suffering from a relationship loss or divorce. Robyn Jean offers henna as a spiritual healing modality and blessing through positive intentions, and does not seek to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Through positive intentions, true love, compassion, and trusting in the process healing is literally in your hands and at your fingertips ~
Henna History and Traditions
Henna is a sacred and fun form of temporary body art. Most famously known in the San Francisco Bay Area as one of many ceremonies in the traditional Indian wedding. A traditional Indian wedding may include up to 16 rituals, one of which is the Night of Henna, or Sangeet. Mehndi, as henna body art is known in Indian culture, is applied elaborately to the hands, arms, feet and legs of the bride. Other wedding guests and members of the bride and groom's family may receive henna the night before or night of the wedding.
Many other cultures can lay claim to henna as being apart of important traditions and celebrations. Henna body art is not only apart of an Indian wedding, but it is apart of Turkish and North African wedding customs as well. Henna is done in North African Jewish as well as Islamic cultures to mark the occasion of the circumcision of a baby boy. There are also strong Jewish and Arabic henna traditions throughout Yemen and the Middle East. Henna is always looked forward to at Ramadan and Eid al-Adha, both important Muslim holy days. Diwali, Festival of Lights is India's new year celebration and their biggest holiday of the year. Henna blessings flow abundantly at these important events.
Note the similarities in style and differences in composition between the Arabic and Khaleeji Persian Gulf henna in the photo above.
Each culture has developed a beautiful and unique style. Lacey, full coverage patterns, majestic peacocks and Hindu Deities mark Indian style henna designs. Arabic and Khaleeji henan styles from the Persian Gulf and Middle East, have lovely organic paisley floral elements, depicting whimsical trails of wild life and abundance. Both if these styles are similar, but their compositions are unique. Arabic designs are generally centered on the hand or foot, while the Khaleeji henna designs trail around the edges of the hands and feet, leaving open space in the middle. North African styles of Morocco and Mauritania are quite unique and magical, with straight, geometric shapes, honoring the sun, growth, alchemy and never depict an element with a soul. Again here we see these two close geographical areas sharing similar patterns and elements, yet their compositions are different. Mauritanian style bends with more rounded elements while the Moroccan remains straightforward. Visit the Henna Styles Photo Gallery for comparisons ~
Henna is an ancient form of body adornment and beautifucation. Earliest known evidence of its use has been found in the tombs of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Ramses II and Queen Hatshepsut, from 3400 BC, were both revealed to have henna in the hair and on their fingertips as apart of the mummification process and ritual.
Henna has migrated from ancient times to the present day. Henna has transcended cultural and geographical boundaries. The traditions and uses of henna have blended and evolved with every people that have adopted it and passed it along. Today in the United States you will find henna body art is not only apart of all of these traditions, celebrations and subcultures, but at festivals, on boardwalks, at baby showers, adorning a pregnant belly, graduation parties, bar/bat mitzvahs. Henna is used as an excellent way to test out a tattoo idea, to help you through a time of healing, or simply to just have fun.
Henna is here for you to explore and adorn yourselves with and pass the tradition along. Henna supports you, who you are in this moment and it brings out the natural beauty already within you. It does not seek to change or alter you permanently, it simply supports the most beautiful you that you already are. You will find people, both men and women, adorning themselves with henna all over the world. Henna can be incorporated into any important ceremony or occurrence in your life. Henna is red and brown, it is the color of blood, the color of the earth, and the color of life. Henna body art is a blessing, a wish of good luck, it marks the occasion and it makes a wonderful gift for friends and family.
Henna References & Resources
Robyn Jean has been offering henna body art professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007. She has studied the henna plant, it's many artforms and safe practices for applying temporary body art at henna conferences and from amazing online resources. For more indepth information about henna and the history of henna, please visit The Henna Page, host of The Henna Encyclopedia, as well as Henna by Sienna and visit the Henna Workshops page for links to recommended henna conferences across the United States.