Henna, also known as mehndi, tattoos are fun, temporary and painless. Since their introduction into mainstream American culture in the late 1990s by Madonna and Gwen Stefani, henna tattoos have grown in popularity. There are henna kiosks in malls in San Diego, CA and independent henna artists in places as remote as Stanley, ID. It seems as if we are surrounded by henna, but if you want to get one, where do you begin to look?
The first thing to do is to avoid the print yellow pages. Most henna artists are very small businesses and cannot afford to list themselves in print. The best way to find an artist in your area is to go online and search for: henna, your area. You will get a list of websites. Some will be for individual artists, and some will be directories (such as PartyPop). Both are good sources of information and can lead you to local henna artists.
How can you tell if the artist is reputable? The photos in the gallery are usually a good indication of the style, caliber and flexibility of an artist. If you find a henna site that only has photos of intricate bridal designs, then that artist is probably not the one you want for a simple name across your bicep. Conversely, if you are looking for a bridal henna artist, and the site shows only small, trendy designs, then that person is likely to not be your best choice for a 6 hour full Indian bridal party.
Make sure the henna artist uses only natural products in their henna paste. There are many people who add dangerous chemicals to their paste to create a black color that stains quickly and lasts more than 4 weeks. Real henna is made from simple ingredients, stains brown and lasts for 1-2 weeks. Chemicals that may be added to henna to make it stain darker and last longer include: turpentine, gasoline and Para-phenylenediamine or ppd (a common hair dye that is illegal for use on skin). Most artists who use safe henna make a point of saying that on their website and may even have a section devoted to the dangers of black henna.
Reputable henna artists are usually happy to share their ingredient list with you. If the henna is locally made, it is less likely to have noxious chemicals. Many pre-made pastes imported from third world countries, such as the “Rani Cone” contain chemicals that can injure you or increase your risk for cancer. Most henna powder that comes from India, Pakistan, and Morocco is safe to use.
Once you have found an artist’s website that looks promising, either call or email the artist to see if you can book an appointment. Some artists have studios and allow people to come in for just one small design. Many others make only house calls and charge by the hour. Decide what you want and choose accordingly. This is also a good time to verify that the artist uses natural henna.
Once you have found an artist and made an appointment, it’s important to remember that henna dyes the upper layers of the skin. In order for the henna to work well, you should wash your hands before you go and not apply lotion before you get your design.
The most popular ways to apply henna are either by cone or by using a little bottle with a metal tip. The henna paste looks like green or brown frosting and sits on top of the skin. Like frosting, the paste is wet at first. You will need to be very careful not to touch your new design until the paste has dried, or the design will smudge and stain your skin in the shape of the smudge.
The henna paste will fall off the skin in a few hours and leave behind an orange stain. At first, the design may be very light, but it will darken over the next couple of days. Henna darkens to a medium to dark brown within 72 hours. Some people get darker stains faster, and some take a longer time to reach full color. There are a number of factors that affect the development of a pretty henna color: heat, length of time the henna had contact with your skin, and your personal skin chemistry. You should follow the aftercare instructions from your artist.
So now you have a henna tattoo. Your henna design should last between one and two weeks if you take care of it. Enjoy!
If you want to learn more about henna tattoos or get one in San Diego, CA, please visit my website, http://www.cmoondesigns.com.