Tattoo is a creative body art that expresses your individuality, but if you’re not still ready to make a lifetime commitment and deal with the pain of tattooing, henna tattoos are a great alternative. Whether you’re looking for traditional bridal patterns or cool henna tattoo designs, keep on reading for the tattoo inspirations that will add some statement to your style.
What is henna?
If you’re a fan of do-it-yourself projects, then you’re very familiar of henna. It is simply a small flowering shrub that can be used as a perfume, dye, and even medicine to treat some skin conditions. Its flower, twigs, and leaves undergo into a drying process first, turning them into a fine powder to create a paste when mixed with hot water.
Do you know that the flowering plant can grow up to 15 feet tall? In fact, some people even call it a henna tree or Egyptian privet. According to the history, the henna plant has been used as a dye since the Bronze Age, but nowadays, it is widely used in India as a tattoo body art.
The Henna plant can be mostly found in South Asian and North African countries, where people use it for coloring their clothes, hair and even decorating the skin that’s mostly known as “henna tattooing”.
Where did the art of henna come from?
The exact origin of henna tattooing isn’t clear, but do you know that the art of henna has been practiced for over 5000 years? Some say that henna tattooing originated in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East because of the Mehndi tradition. But according to the books, even the ancient Egyptian mummies wore henna designs. And would you believe that even Cleopatra used henna to decorate her body?
It is said that henna was used for cosmetic purposes in the Roman Empire and Convivencia-period Iberia too. Henna is also a great way to accessorize, especially if one can’t afford to buy expensive jewelry. Also, it’s a great way to look trendy and hip. In fact, many celebrities and fashion icons like Madonna and Gwen Stefani used henna tattoos.
Why henna is called tattoo?
On contrary to traditional tattoos that are permanent, henna tattoos are temporary. But why they are called as tattoos anyway? In our present time, tattoos are the form of body art where you use a permanent ink to decorate your body. Back in the day, there was no permanent ink and needles, but only henna as a dye to use for body decoration.
Also, the term “henna tattoo” simply implies using the dye that henna plant produces. Apart from using henna to dye skin temporarily, it can also be used to color fabrics, nails, and even hair. In the late 90s, henna tattooing made a comeback since fashion icons and celebrities wore them—and it became a beauty trend.
A great thing, henna tattoos are temporary, so it would be easy to get new designs more often compared to a permanent tattoo that will require you a lifetime commitment. Also, henna tattooing is painless and safe, so you can literally do it yourself.
How to use henna as a tattoo?
Don’t worry as the henna plant doesn’t dye everything it touches. If you wish to make a henna dye fresh from the plant, then you may dry its leaves first and ground them up. Depending on your preference, you can mix the grounded leaves with water, essential oil, or lemon juice to create a paste.
The reddish, orange stain on your skin is the reaction of the henna dye with your skin, particularly keratin. According to the experts, the henna plant contains “lawsone” binds to the keratin or protein in our skin. That’s the reason why henna dye stains are darkest when used on your palms and bottom of your feet since the skin is thickest there.
Henna is natural but there are chemically altered henna dyes that will create a darker and more permanent look, as well as bright vibrant colors. The natural henna dye only lasts no longer than five weeks, and the colors are ranging from reddish orange to brown, not black. The dried powder of the henna plant has a very earthy smell and in green color.
If you’re reaching for black henna, purple henna, blue henna, and even glittery henna, then the product you’re having is already mixed with chemicals. If you’re committed to try it out, simply make a paste out of the powder and other ingredients—water, essential oil, lemon juice—and place it in a funnel to design your body, or use a brush if you’re artistic enough.
To properly dye the skin, you should leave the design untouched for several hours before washing it off. Most of the time the henna paste looks dark green, but it will eventually flake off, revealing a reddish orange stain. As a hack, some women even spray lemon or sugar juice to dampen the paste after it dries so it will enhance the stain on your skin. Do you know that the acidity of the lemon will enhance the henna dye while the sugar will help it stick? Simply let the paste dry once again until it flakes off.
When and where you could wear henna tattoo?
You can absolutely wear henna tattoo anytime and anywhere, but if you wish to show your appreciation to cultures and traditions, then think of Mehndi. It’s actually the art of applying henna dye to the hands and feet during celebrations and holidays. If you’re inspired with the Indian culture, you might think of henna designs that showcase floral patterns. On the other hand, African henna tattoos are typically bolder and more geometric.
Do you know that henna is used in Hindu weddings to decorate the body, hands, or feet of the bride to symbolize joy and beauty? In fact, the most intricate henna tattoos are reserved for the bride to set her apart from everyone else. Most of the time, the tattoo design includes the nature elements, depictions of Hindu gods, and even symbolic designs.
Some brides even get their henna tattoos before the Mehndi night so that they can have the darker stain on their wedding day. A Mehndi night is actually a ceremony held before the wedding where henna tattoos are decorated to the bride’s body, hands, and feet. There’s even a tradition where the groom’s name must be written at the bride’s hand, or else the wedding night can’t begin.
The Mehndi tradition roots from centuries old beliefs and practices that have been passed down through the ages. Some brides prefer to make the tradition traditional by placing the henna tattoos on their hands and feet, while some women prefer them on the belly, forehead, and even shoulders. In fact, having henna tattoo is considered as a divine experience as you’ll have “Barakah” or blessings, along with luck and joy when applied to your body.
Why choose henna over permanent tattoos?
If you’re afraid of the pain of tattooing, then henna is a pain-free way to decorate your body creatively. Henna tattoos do not hurt since the dye is only applied to the top of the skin with an applicator, not with needles. Do you know that the process is even calming because of the cooling effect of the paste? Yes, the henna paste is soothing. Just think of the lemon-sugar solution, along with aromatic oils.
You can change the design of your tattoos every time since henna stains usually fade in four weeks. The key is to opt for high-quality henna powder—it must be fresh, pure, natural and finely grounded. Typically, a henna powder from a henna plant that was grown in hot and dry climates will give the darkest stain.
If you just want to get some tattoo art on festivals, holidays, and celebrations, then why commit to a permanent tattoo? Like we have said earlier, a Hindu bride will get an elaborate henna tattoo on her body, and it’s one of the things you can hardly make a lifetime commitment.
Also, there’s glitter henna that can only last for 8 hours, making it the perfect accessory for a girl’s night out. Forget your most sparkly earrings, necklaces, and bracelets and go for some metallic henna instead. If you’re going to do it yourself, you must do some practice first, and always opt for a henna cone of the right size so you’ll make your artwork effortless.
How long does a henna tattoo last?
Henna tattoos are temporary, but they last no longer than four weeks. Depending on the quality of paste, the way you apply the tattoo, daily activities, skin type, and tattoo design, the henna stain will last somewhere between one and five weeks.
If you want to make your henna tattoo last longer, then simply don’t use soap on the area your henna tattoo is applied. Some women prefer to use chemically altered henna as it lasts longer than the natural one, but make sure you’re not sensitive to the other ingredients added to the powder.
Most of the time, it’s safer to use natural henna powder from dried leaves that were mixed with hot water or essential oils. Some women uses eucalyptus and clove oil, but if you’re allergic to them, use other essential oils.
Some Amazing Facts about Henna That You Should Know
Henna tattoo is perfect for summer—it works as a natural sunblock.
Do you know that henna can increase the production of melanin in your body? In fact, the history states that ancient Egyptians would make salves and ointments containing henna to protect their skin from the sun—sunblock isn’t popular back then. However, that doesn’t mean you can replace your sunblock and instead use henna. It’s just amazing that ancient people used natural ingredients to protect their skin from the sun.
Henna tattoos can work as a sunblock, and you can actually wear a sunscreen on top of it. If you want to make your body art more creative, think of getting some henna tattoos before going sunbathing. This way, the tattoo design will stay as your natural skin color while the rest of your body will get tanned. The trick lies to the tan lines—just imagine your tattoo design will be visible after the henna dye faded.
Henna has medicinal properties that will benefit your skin.
Since henna is an herb, we’re expecting it to be more functional than a tattoo. The history states that henna was used topically to cure headaches, fungal infections, stomach pains, sunburns, wounds, and even athlete’s foot.
Thanks to “lawsone” henna’s ingredient that’s responsible for coloring the skin—as fungal infection can be cured. If you want to make the treatment more traditional than just using over the counter drugs, then simply apply a mix of henna and tea tree oil to your infected skin. A great thing, tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, but keep in mind that it can make the henna stain last longer.
Henna tattoos can be a great way to calm and relax your skin in the warmer months.
Do you know that henna has the ability to reduce the body heat? How amazing is that? There’s no perfect time to get henna tattoos than summer—it will not only look creative on your body, but it’s also functional to keep you cool. Henna cools the skin the same way Eucalyptus and Peppermint do.
Some women noticed that even after the henna paste dried and flaked off, the body temperature remains low. Would you think the visibility of henna tattoo will affect its cooling properties? We think so. Do you know that experts even revealed that women in India would cover their body in henna paste just to keep them cool? Yes, the art of henna is more than just being cultural, traditional, or religious—it has medicinal and calming purposes too.
Henna can cure your scalp and hair problems.
Henna is a great way to decorate your body in a more fun, painless, and effortless way, but it has antibacterial properties too that can address all of your hair and scalp problems. Do you reach for clarifying shampoo just to get rid of your dandruff? Why not think of the henna way? It actually does wonders to your scalp. Just think of mixing it with potent oils to do its magic.
Apart from it, henna can actually speed up your hair growth. Do you suffer from falling hair and brittle strands? Since henna can make your scalp clean, it’s only natural that it has a good impact on hair growth. Hair experts even say that henna can help to nourish your scalp—only if you’re ready for a traditional approach to take care of your hair.
However, henna only makes your hair looks thicker aesthetically. It’s simply because its dye coats your hair strands, and over time there would be a buildup of dye in your strands that will also make your hair look shiny and healthy.
Henna used in tattooing is more pigmented than chemicals for hair coloring.
No wonder, even brides rely on the power of henna during their Mehndi night and weddings. Since henna tattoos live up to expectations, why not use it as the alternative to the chemicals you are using when coloring your hair? Remember, the key lies to the percentage of “lawson” in the henna powder, and there’s much more “lawson” in the henna used in tattooing than in hair coloring.
However, if you wish to color your hair black, you need to play some tricks. Keep in mind that the natural henna color only comes in reddish orange, so you have to apply another layer of purple or indigo to make the final look black. If you can, mix another herb that will give a dark brown color, so you’ll dye your hair black without using chemicals.
You can make the henna tattoos permanent if you’ll apply it to a broken skin.
It might not be a healthy practice, but it’s like the same process of the traditional tattooing that uses needles to apply the ink. According to the tattoo experts, applying the henna dye on your cuts, scratches, or damaged skin will make the color trapped under the top layer of your skin—and it will stay forever just like a real tattoo.
As a word of caution, do not apply henna on those areas if you just want them to be temporary, though a healthy broken skin will make the dye last longer the usual since the top layer of your skin will shed in time. If you like to make your tattoos permanent without the pain, you shouldn’t use henna on your cuts either—the paste is not that safe, and you wouldn’t want to get some infection.
Water, lemon juice, and essential oils can drastically change the color intensity of henna.
Do you know that acidic liquids, especially lemon juice, will intensify the color of your henna tattoo? If you wish to experiment on altering the color of the natural henna, think of highly pigmented natural ingredients like turmeric, coffee, or even red wine that can do the tricks for you. Some essential oils like tea tree oil will make the henna tattoos darker, while others make the stain lighter.
Henna tattoos are beautiful and creative, so get yours now and flaunt that artistic body art in a more fun and stylish way.