What is Henna?


The terms ‘mehndi’ and ‘henna’ are used to refer to the same magical substance – the flowering plant, Lawsonia inermis. It is widely grown in North Africa, South East Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. The leaves of the plant produce a natural dye that temporarily stains the skin. Thus, henna is popularly used in many cultures all over the world as a form of temporary body art. The dried leaves of the henna plant are crushed into a powder, and then mixed with either water, lemon juice or strong tea (or a combination of these) and safe essential oils, to produce a paste. This paste is than applied onto the skin (using a cone similar to an icing cone) to eventually leave a beautiful, temporary brown/mahogany/red stain. We have no concrete evidence of the initial use of Henna, however, it is said to have originated in either Egypt or Syria. It has since been used by numerous cultures, including African, Arabic, Indian, and most recently the Western world. Henna is a way to decorate the body and belongs to no particular culture, but can be enjoyed by everyone!

Is it safe to apply Henna?

Naturally made henna paste is 100% safe to apply on the skin. It can be applied to anyone above the age of 3 years and on pregnant women as well! Henna paste is perishable and loses its staining power if not frozen. Please be aware of henna artists using store-bought henna that does not need to be been stored frozen, or black henna, both of which are very dangerous to apply on the skin (they can cause irritation, burning on the skin and dangerous scarring). Any henna that has not been naturally made and which can be stored at room temperature for weeks or months will have harmful chemicals added to it to preserve it, and should not be used on the skin. Black henna does not exist, and so ‘black henna’ paste is usually made with harmful PPD-laden dyes that should never be used on the skin! Sheena’s mehndi/henna paste comprises of safe, natural, organic mehndi powder, water, and essential oils (she uses a combination of lavender, eucalyptus, cajeput and tea tree essential oil, and lavender oil only for pre-natal henna). The only time natural henna should NOT be used is on infants who have been diagnosed with G6PD deficiency (rare in the UK and mainly prevalent in the Middle East). Adults who have been diagnosed with G6PD deficiency can have small amounts of henna done. Please find further information here.

How is Henna applied?

Henna can be applied on the skin or the hair. On the skin, it is normally applied on the hands and feet, where it forms the darkest stain. The henna paste is poured into a cone similar to an icing cone, and used to create beautiful patterns on the skin. This paste is then rubbed off the skin, and it leaves behind a beautiful stain that darkens to a lovely brown/red/mahogany stain that lasts for up to 3 weeks. Please find some instructions below on how to achieve a dark henna stain: