If you’re a tattoo enthusiast or at least want to have a tattoo, you’ve probably heard of henna tattoo. This is the painless, safe, and easy way to get a tattoo. But of course, it’s temporary and fades away in a matter of days. Some people who doesn’t want the full responsibility with a permanent tattoo often just goes for a henna design.
But this is rather more common and popular for women. This is especially since the history of henna tattoos has always included women – especially ones that are going to get married.
Of course, if you’re a first-timer, you’ll need to know anything you can about henna. That includes its history, how it goes on the skin, how long it lasts and some designs that can inspire you.
What is a Henna Tattoo?
- 1 What is a Henna Tattoo?
- 2 Brief History of Henna Tattoo
- 3 Henna and its Contemporary Use
- 4 The “How Long” of Henna Tattoos
- 5 Is Henna Safe?
- 6 Can you do Henna at Home?
- 7 Popular Henna Tattoo Designs
Henna is a plant that can be found in Northern Africa, Western and Southern Asia, and Northern Australasia. The paste used in a henna tattoo is made out from leaves of the plant. The leaves are dried up, crushed and then mixed with hot water and some essential oil. The blend then creates this deep olive-colored paste but when applied to the skin, it will dry and produce a reddish brown color. This is because of the plant’s natural dye.
That said, a henna tattoo is a temporary body art. Artists use a paste made out of henna to create stunning designs. While most designs revolve around traditional henna tattoos from India, some artists also create other designs. These are somewhat similar to designs you’ll see from permanent tattoos. However, these are more bold and are less detailed.
Still, it gives some people and even the kids a sense of having a tattoo – but without the pain and commitment.
Brief History of Henna Tattoo
Henna has been around for centuries. It was used to adorn the hands and feet primarily that of women. These are used for sacred and important ceremonies in South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa. Usually, you’ll see this during religious holidays and weddings. Most Westerners would probably be more familiar with the henna tattoo adorning the hands of Indian and Pakistani brides.
While it’s mostly used during these religious holidays, know that a henna tattoo is not at all religious. The concept is actually more on cosmetics – it’s used as accessories to make the brides look more beautiful for their wedding day.
However, the designs are filled with motifs that are thought to ward off the evil eye. In Morocco, women apply henna as a way to appease the Djinn. It’s their good luck charm and way to avoid illnesses.
In Indian and Pakistani culture, the family of the bride (usually the women only) would create designs on the bride’s feet and hands the night before the celebration. They’d do it over music and food. In the modern world, it’s more or less the bridal shower.
The term mehndi or mehandi is used for these henna designs. Nonetheless, it’s also the term used for the application of henna on the skin.
Henna and its Contemporary Use
Today, you’ll see henna tattoos as part of the mainstream tattoo industry. You’ll see henna artists on music festivals and whenever there’s a big happening. They put henna tattoos on young girls, sometimes with sparkles includes. They’re pretty much alongside the level of face paints.
Nonetheless, these are more or less popular during big musical events. Perhaps you’ve attended the Coachella and seen hundreds of girls with henna tattoos on their bodies. Even celebrities have it.
Apart from making the whole look better, henna tattoos are also often used during photo sessions. Many pregnant women get henna tattoos on their tummies during maternity photo shoots. It’s a simple way of adding emphasis to their bulging bumps and making the photos look extra good. Yet some believe the power of henna designs. There are still some who are asking for motifs that are said to bring good luck and protection.
Nowadays, even chemotherapy patients adorn their heads with wonderful henna tattoo designs. For some, the designs are actually linked to healing.
The “How Long” of Henna Tattoos
How long does it take to apply a henna tattoo? How long does it last? Those are the two important “how long” questions regarding henna tattoos.
For the first question, it will depend on the design that you choose. It can take a few minutes for a simpler design. But it can also take an hour or so if you work on a bigger design with more complicated patterns. It can also depend on the skills of the artist. Some artists have a portfolio of designs you can choose from. Choosing from there means that the artist have done the designs a dozen of times or so which means they’re already skilled on it. This would take them less time.
However, if you choose a design that you personally made and the artist has just seen for the first time, it’ll take longer.
There’s also a minimum time for you to keep the paste on so that the natural dye stays even if you wash it off. Artists say you need at least four hours for it to dry. Keeping it overnight is also great but it can stain your clothes and sheets. The paste can dry from 5 to 10 minutes but you’ll want to keep it on until it has completely dried and flaked off on its own.
So, how long does a henna tattoo last? It usually lasts around one to three weeks. This is based on your skin type and how often you exfoliate. If you want to keep it bolder for a longer time, avoid washing the area more often and using less soap. You can also apply a light coat of olive oil, beeswax, or henna balm before bathing or swimming.
Is Henna Safe?
Henna tattoos, although a very painless way of getting body art, can still carry some risks.
As a child, you might have gotten a henna tattoo during some kind of festivities. If not, you’ve probably seen children with one. That gives you the idea that henna is definitely safe.
But the truth is, it’s not everyone. It can cause some allergic reactions. While the traditional henna paste does not cause or contact allergies, the stuff used by street artists could. It will take hours before their a traditional henna paste can produce some colors that will last a long time. However, a lot of people who get theirs from a street artist doesn’t actually wait for hours.
That’s why the powder that some artists use actually has an additive called para-phenylenediamine (PPD). This helps shortens the setting time with a black dye that sets quickly. Some people are allergic to this content. They may have tried henna before but the reaction usually comes the second time they have it.
If you are allergic to PPD, there will be visible symptoms such as swelling. It can also get itchy until blisters develop that can burst and weep. Scars would then remain after it has all settled.
PPD is widely used such as with hair dyes. If you think you have an allergy to PPD, you’ll want to steer away from henna tattoos. But not all people can be sure. That’s why you may want to try doing an allergy test. Drop a little henna paste or maybe a hair dye with PPD and on your arm. Wait for at least 24 hours before you take it off.
When you feel itchiness and see visible signs of an allergic reaction, you’ll want to avoid henna and these products.
Can you do Henna at Home?
Most who get henna tattoos got it from street artists or maybe some tattoo shops that offer the service. However, it’s possible to get a henna tattoo at home. In fact, you can do this as a summer project with your kids.
If you have access to a henna plant, then it’s best that you do the henna paste by yourself. You may even get a traditional henna paste but if you’re buying online, you’ll want to be sure of your source. Of course, you can also get the henna powder that street artists use. Then again, you’ll want to do some allergy tests to your whole family. You should never take your children’s health at risk.
Nonetheless if they don’t show any sign of allergic reactions, those henna powders are relatively safe to use.
Apart from the paste, you’ll also want to get the container of the henna paste. Containers like these comes with a special nozzle. You’ll use the containers for the henna paste and it would also act as the marker for the henna.
The next thing you’ll need is a henna design. You’ll find lots of inspirations online. But of course, you can settle with simple drawings like flowers and butterflies.
Popular Henna Tattoo Designs
If you want to get a henna tattoo or perhaps do one with your kids and family, here are some henna tattoo designs that can inspire yours:
Intricate patterns with fake rubies
If you take a look at henna designs online, all of them are full of intricate patterns. There are vines of swirls and dots. But you can make it a little more extra by adding some fake rubies or other crystal-like accent to it. You can use rhinestones that are often used for nail art.
However, this kind of design would only work as long as the paste is still present. Unless of course, you find a way to keep the rubies attached to your skin safely. That’s why take your pictures before the paste and rubies fall out.
Most henna tattoo designs have floral patterns. But you can do a simpler and more unique one. Instead of flowers, why not focus on the leaves?
You can create a wreath pattern along your hands. Keep it small and simple. But you can also create an illusion of “movement” by intertwining them and creating shapes instead of lines.
Yin and yang
It’s very easy to create simple symbols and tattoo designs with henna. It’s better if you have different sizes of nozzle or you know how to control how much paste comes out with every squirt.
Nonetheless, a yin and yang design is very possible with henna. You can also make it look like a flower, with petals around it and some extra patterns for your design.
Half mandala chest piece
Traditionally, henna tattoos are only placed on the feet and hands. These days though, you can find them on many different areas of the body – including the chest. An ornate chest piece with a half mandala accent would be a glorious accessory if you’re into wearing off-shoulders and tubes. You can definitely show off elegant strokes of swirls and geometric patterns.
Bold and simplified mehndi design
Most henna enthusiasts these days get their inspiration from traditional mehndi designs. The only different though is today’s designs are more simplified. You can create a simplified and yet bolder designs for your hand. Usually, it goes from the wrist to the middle finger.
Floral foot design
A lot of henna tattoo designs – both traditionally and modern – have floral motifs. They play around various kinds of flowers. Petals are often changed in shape: some are longer like that of a sunflower while others are round-ish. Some are even squared.
There are also vines of leaves and other elements such as swirls, dots, and patterns to adorn the main piece.
Dark black flower
Usually, the flower designs we see are more subtle and with more designs around it. But you can create a simpler and yet bolder flower. You can play on how it looks but the gist is it’s a single flower with not much of a design. You’ll also want a bolder look to it so you can have it as a back piece. Try filling in the petals with the paste so it’ll have solid black parts.