Henna Body Painting
an excerpt from “Mehndi, the Art of Henna Body Painting” Believe it or not, the practice of Mehndi started out as an answer to the need for air-conditioning in the desert. The Henna plant, whose botanical name is Lawsonia Inermis and which comes from the Loosestrife family, has several medicinal properties, chief among them its ability to cool down the human body. When the desert people of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Gujarat became aware of Hennas cooling properties, they dipped their hands and feet in a mud or paste made with the crushed leaves of the plant. Even when the mud was scraped off, they noticed, as long as the color remained visible, their body temperatures stayed low. Eventually some women grew tired of bright red palms and found that one large central dot in the palm of the hand had the same effect, while being more pleasing to the eye. Other, smaller dots were placed around the center dot, which gradually gave way to the idea of creating outright artistic designs. To that end, a thin instrument made of silver or ivory (in India) or wood (in Morocco), then most commonly used for applying kohl to the eyes, became the instrument of choice for Henna applications, and it is still in use in desert villages today. Only in the last decade or so have the popular Indian cone (see Page 44 in Mehndi, the Art of Henna Body Painting) and Moroccan syringe, both of which are able to deposit the thinnest filaments of Henna onto the skin, come into play as modern counterparts of the simple stick…” FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE EARTH HENNA body painting kit1. How long does it last on the skin? Designs last from one to three weeks on the skin, depending on your body temperature, skin type, body chemistry, lifestyle and where the henna is applied. The average person gets a stain that lasts 10 days to two weeks.2. How long does the paste last? The paste lasts four weeks in the bottle once mixed, if it is kept in the refrigerator. The henna powder stays fresh up to two years if it is kept away from light and moisture.3. Can you do your eyebrows with it? You can apply it to your eyebrows, but you will end up with red eyebrows! The color of the stain you get with natural henna is a bright reddish brown.4. Can you dye your lips with it? No. Lip skin does not absorb henna at all.5. Can you apply it on a pregnant woman’s belly? Yes. It is completely safe.6. Can you dye your hair with it? Yes. The henna we use is the same as henna powder which is used to dye hair. However, if you plan to dye your hair with it, simply mix it with water. The solution that comes in our kit is especially blended for use on skin.7. How do you take the design off? You can’t just “take it off.” The stain fades gradually as your skin exfoliates. The time varies according to each individual. If you do want it to fade more quickly, you can rub it with soap and water. However, there is no quick fix.8. Has it ever not faded away? No. Henna is a temporary skin dye. It always fades away.9. What’s in the solution? Ingredients are listed on our packaging: Water Sorbitol – Corn Glycerin – vegetable Black walnut extract – tree Benzyl Alcohol – flower oil, balsams Citric acid – fruit Eucalyptus oil – tree Disodium EDTA – processed salt Lactic Acid – sugar cane 10. What color will it be? The color of the stain you get using any natural henna paste, including the EARTH HENNA paste, is reddish brown. Variations in color depend on your skin tone and skin type.11. Can you add anything to it to make it darker? Not that we know of. Some people add indigo, some people add water boiled with cloves. We hear about all kinds of homemade recipes, but nothing we can vouch for.12. What about black henna? Black henna does not exist. The color obtained with the natural henna plant is reddish brown. Black tattoos obtained using so-called “black henna” is the natural henna powder, to which dyes, inks or chemicals– all of them potentially dangerous to the skin–have been added. We often hear stories about people getting permanent scarring; people needing to be rushed to the hospital for cortisone injections; rashes, itching and other horror stories. We strongly recommend you stay away from so-called “black henna” mixtures.13. What’s the eucalyptus oil for? The purpose of the eucalyptus oil is for transferring the stencils to the skin. Additionally, some people start by swabbing the skin with eucalyptus oil before applying the henna paste. But, eucalyptus oil is somewhat pricey and any vegetable oil will achieve the same purpose, which is to further prepare the skin for absorption. However, applying any type of oil before application is not required for achieving a beautiful stain.14. How do you transfer the stencils? First apply a liberal amount of eucalyptus oil to the skin. Cut off the required design from the stencil sheet. Place the stencil, dark side down, onto the skin and hold it there for a minute or so. Peel off stencil. You should see a transfer of the stencil design on your skin. You are ready to begin tracing over the lines using your applicator bottle filled with henna paste.15. Are the stencils re-usable? Yes. Four or five times each.16. Can you mix half of the powder and solution and leave the other half for later use, or do you have to use it all at once? We strongly recommend you mix it all up at once. Getting the right consistency is very tricky and we have gone to great lengths to provide the exact amount of powder for the exact amount of solution. Most people who try using half end up with a paste that is either too thick or too runny.17. How long does the paste take to dry? The henna paste dries in 10 to 15 minutes.18. How long do I have to leave the paste on? A minimum of six hours. The longer you leave it on the better.19. How do I take the paste off? Simply pick it off with your nails or rub it off with your fingers or a towel.
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