The henna plant is one of the oldest cosmetics ever used and is extremely safe. Natural henna, when applied to the skin rarely causes any adverse reactions, if you are concerned you should do a small patch test first. Natural henna is safe even for use on children as it contains no dangerous chemical dyes or harsh additives.
Fresh henna powder smells like fresh cut hay or spinach and is an earthy green or khaki colour. If the powder is bright green in colour a chemical dye has been added. If the powder is brown and has little or no scent, it is likely the product is stale and too old to yield a good colour for mehndi or henna body painting.
Henna powder is light and heat sensitive as it is an organic product with no preservatives added. Store henna powder sealed tightly and protected from light, air, and moisture in the freezer.
Supplies you will need:
Fresh Henna Powder, 20 grams (1/4 cup)
Bottled or Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice, strained
Small Plastic or Glass Bowl
Essential Oils - optional but strongly recommended for dark colour
Plastic Sandwich Bag
Applicator Bottle or Cone
Begin mixing paste the day before you would like to apply the henna. It takes about 24 hours to prepare the henna paste for application.
This recipe is for 20 grams of fresh henna powder and will produce approximately 3 ounces of paste, enough for 75 small patterns. In The Evening
The night before you plan to use the paste, (24 hours prior to use), pour 20 grams of fresh henna powder into a small bowl and add 1/4 cup of strained lemon juice.
Stir the henna and lemon juice until they are completely mixed together and no lumps of dry powder remain. The paste will be thick at this point, similar to mashed potatoes.
When using any type of dye a second ingredient is needed to create the chemical reaction to release the dye molecule. Henna requires an acid to bring out the dye molecule contained within its leaves. Lemon juice is the perfect companion as it is very acidic, readily available, and perfectly safe. It is not recommended to use water to mix your paste. Some recipes call for many ingredients in the mixture such as coffee, tea, tamarind, and spices. None of these extra ingredients will make much of a difference in the staining power of your paste. You'll get a fabulous stain with just lemon juice and high quality essential oils.
Cover the henna paste with a piece of plastic wrap to protect it from air and let it sit in a warm place, overnight or for 12 hours.
In The Morning
Unwrap the henna paste and add 1 teaspoon sugar to help the paste stick to the skin once it is applied.
Add 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of your own oils. Cajeput, tea tree, , or lavender are all good choices. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. The essential oils will help to produce the deepest and darkest stain.
Determining exact amounts of lemon juice required for henna paste is very difficult since the henna plants are grown in many different regions of the world. Depending on the location, weather, and time of year that the leaves are harvested the recipe will need varying amounts of lemon juice. The paste should be smooth and creamy, similar to yogurt. If too much lemon juice is added the paste will be runny and your designs will bleed together. If the paste is too thick it will be difficult to squeeze the paste out of the applicator.
Add lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing completely between each addition, until you reach the desired creamy consistency.
When your paste is the perfect consistency you can let it sit sealed in the bowl or fill your applicators now.
If you want to fill the applicators now, pour paste into a plastic bag and twist closed. Cut a tiny piece off one corner and squeeze the mixture into the applicator bottle or cone. When the bottle is full, put the lid on the bottle and screw on the stainless steel tip. If you are using a rolled cone, fill it half way with henna paste, twist closed and wrap a rubber band around the end to prevent the paste from oozing out.
Let the bowl, bottles, or cones of paste sit in a warm place, around 85° Fahrenheit, for another 12 hours to allow the dye to be drawn out of the henna leaves so it will stain your skin deeply and as strong as possible.
After letting the henna mature for the day it is now ready to be used.