Henna or Hina (Lawsonia inermis, syn. L. alba) is a flowering plant native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, and northern Australasia in semi-arid zones. Henna is a tall shrub or small tree, 2–6 m high. Henna is commercially cultivated in western India, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and Sudan
The dried Henna leaves are ground into a powder which produces a red-orange dye that is used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather, silk and wool. Henna has been used for centuries in eastern cultures to dye hands and feet. Henna is also used as a natural Hair dye and hair conditioner. It gives hair a beautiful reddish-auburn tint. For application instructions see below. It is also very popular as a temporary tattoo. The henna tattoo is a deep maroon in color that fades away over time.
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How is Henna applied? Method for mixing Henna Powder.
1. Boil 2 black tea bags in bottled / distilled water for about 15 minutes. Then add 2 teaspoons of instant coffee. (do not use tap water as it contains chlorine).
2. Strain some fresh lemon juice (approx. ½ teaspoon of lemon juice for 1 tablespoon of henna. 1 tablespoon of henna is enough for tattooing one hand)
3. Mix the tea & coffee water and lemon juice to the Henna powder till you get a toothpaste like consistency.
4. Add a few drops of mustard oil/ eucalyptus oil/ lavender oil.
5. Keep this mixture covered in a non-staining bowl (or a bowl you don’t mind getting stained) for at least 4 hours.
6. Prepare a sticky solution of fresh lemon juice and sugar for later use.
7. You can apply the Henna paste either with a toothpick, brush or plastic cone (You can make a cone by folding a firm plastic sheet into a cone and cutting a thin hole at its end). Pour the paste into the cone and tie the broader end with a rubber band. Hold the cone in your right hand and gently squeeze the paste on the palm and start making patterns. Keep the palm horizontal and let the patterned-paste rest on it till dry.
8. For the best results, paste must remain moist and on the skin for at least two hours. The longer you leave it on, the darker the tattoo. Overnight is best.
9. When the paste starts getting dry, lightly dab on with a cotton ball the solution of lemon juice and sugar. Repeat this process, allowing design to dry between blotting until it has a glazed coating of lemon sugar. (10-15 times) You can leave it on after this process has been completed as long as you desire (at least two hours, and up to 12). When you are ready to remove the paste, scrape it off. Apply a vegetable based oil (such as olive) to the finished design. It will appear orange in color at first--over the next 48 hours it will darken considerably and reach its peak color. Avoid washing with soap for the first day, do not apply sunscreen to your Mehndi.
Application as a Hair Dye
Henna is a natural hair dye and will give the hair a reddish-auburn tint. The henna powder should be dissolved in warm water to form a paste. Add 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice to add shine to the hair. Let the paste sit for an hour and then apply to the hair. Leave it in for at least an hour and then wash it off. Do not shampoo it.
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