Henna (or Mehndi) is an ancient form of body art that uses the leaves of the henna plant (lawsonia inermis) to stain the skin. Henna has been used for thousands of years in North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Henna has traditionally been applied for many reasons, some cultural, some religious, as well as just for the beauty of it!
A paste is made from the dried and ground leaves of the henna plant, lemon juice or water, essential oils, sugar and/or molasses. This paste is applied to the skin and left for several hours. The resulting stain is brownish red, whose color and depth depends on the area where applied and length of time the paste is left on. As the skin naturally renews itself, the stain fades and disappears. This process can take between one and three weeks.
Henna never stains black. Black Henna is made by adding chemicals that can often result in painful (and sometimes scarring) reactions. I use only natural, safe henna! All pictures where the henna appears black were taken with the paste still on.