The art of Henna (Mehndi) has been practiced for over 5000 years in India, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East. Today, people all over the world have adopted this beautiful ancient form of body art. Henna (Lawsoniainermis) is a flowering plant that grows 12- 15 feet high. The leaves of the henna plant are dried, crushed into fine powder, and made into a creamy paste using water and eucalyptus oil. This paste is then applied to the skin, or can even be used as hair dye. The paste sits on the skin and eventually becomes dry (this takes about 20 minutes) and flakes off, leaving behind a light orange stain which will then darken to a brown reddish color over the next 24 – 48 hours. These designs last about 1 – 2 weeks depending on the care and skin type.
Interesting Henna Facts:
- It is an accustomed tradition used for religious celebrations and weddings. Henna traditionally is applied to the bride not only as a decorative body art, but it is thought to help the bride relax and cool her nerves in preparation for her big day.
- In ancient Egyptian times mummies wore henna designs. It is even documented that Cleopatra herself used henna to dye her hair, color her nails and even applied as eyeliner.
- In ancient times henna was used to treat headaches, stomach pains, burns (including sun burns), open wounds, and as a fever reducer.
- Henna has natural cooling properties; for centuries people would apply the paste on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet to be used as a cooling agent.