In India and Pakistan, the art of henna is called mehndi. It has been in practice in Pakistan, Africa, the Middle East, and India for more than 8000 years. According to some documentation, the art of henna is over 9000 years old.
Henna is famous for its cooling properties, so the people of the desert have been using it for centuries because it helps them to cool down their bodies. To get the air conditioning effect, they prepare a henna paste and soak their feet soles and palms.
Initially, the stains faded away but left their patterns on the surface of the skin. These patterns encourage people to use them for decorative purposes. It has been noticed that Egyptians mummies also wore henna designs. Henna was a popular adornment for both rich and poor, especially for those who can’t afford jewelry. They tend to use henna to decorate their bodies. Henna was used as a hair dye, and still, it is in practice.
The Henna Plant
Henna is also called (Hina, the henna tree, and mignonette tree). Such a flowering plant grows 12 to 15 feet high. The word Henna came from the Arabic word Hinna. In the beginning, henna was used as a hair dye. It has been used for centuries to dye hair, skin, fingernails, and fabrics such as wool and silk. Henna was used for cosmetic purposes for a long time in countries like Ancient Egypt, Roman Empire, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia. Henna plants can be easily found in hot climates such as India, Pakistan, and Australia.
The ideal temperature for the growth of the henna plant is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the plant contains more dye. Dry soil is preferred for such a plant instead of damp soil. Leaves vary in size from 2 to 4 cm long. Plant of henna also contains lawsone that is a reddish-orange dye. The purpose of this dye is to bind keratin to the skin and stain the skin without causing skin allergies. Stain color will be different, and it may be from pale orange to black. This color variance depends on the quality of henna and also on the skin. Henna obtained from a fresh and hot climate will produce dark stains.
For Body Decorations
Leaves of the henna plants are dried and crushed to obtain a fine powder. By using different techniques, it is converted into a creamy paste. This creamy paste is then applied to the skin, and it will stain the only top layer of the skin. It will produce an orange or brown color. When it is applied to the skin, it looks green, and green paste will flake off and leave behind an orange stain. This stain will be converted to dark brown after 1 to 3 days. The skin of the palms and feet is rich in keratin, so it achieves darkest brown color. The design generally lasts for almost 1 to 4 weeks. This lasting time depends on the type of henna, skin type, and care.
Preparation and Application of Henna
Henna cones that we buy from the market are made for commercial use by adding some chemicals into a natural paste. While on the other hand, the henna we made at home is safe to use and free from chemicals. Henna powder is mixed with water and leaves the mixture overnight. The mixture is then applied to the skin either on hair or hands or feet and then left untouched for a few hours. When we wash the skin, the result is a beautiful orange-brown stain that fades away in a few days or weeks.
To obtain a beautiful design, generally dark henna shade is desired. For this purpose, some companies are adding chemicals into natural powder to boost the color. Chemicals have been proven to be allergens.
Uses and Benefits of Henna throughout the Years
- It works as a cooling agent in the hot summer. It prevents the effects of headaches and sunstroke. Initially, it was just used to soak hands and feet. But now, people have started to use it on arms, fingers, and different designs are made by using henna paste.
- It is effective when treating different types of skin problems such as athletes’ foot and ringworm etc.
- Good choice for treating cracking nails.
- A significant number of women are using it as an alternative to nail polish. It is a good choice because it will fade away naturally, and you don’t have to use nail polish remover.
- It is also good at treating diseases like jaundice and some other diseases.
- Henna is not only used for dyeing, but it is also good at softening your hair. It strengthens the hair and adds shine to it.
- Henna is an effective remedy for hair loss.
- It treats lots of issues such as dryness, dandruff, premature graying of hair by balancing the pH of the scalp.
- There are lots of high-quality hair dyes available in the market, but you can’t enjoy the benefits that natural products like henna offers.
- Henna is chemical-free, so the chances of skin reactions or allergies are rare.
- You can get maroon shade by adding a spoon of coffee and a cup of black tea.
Henna with commercial packaging is for use as a cosmetic hair dye in many countries. It is popular in many countries like India, Pakistan, Middle East, Canada, and the US. Color that obtains from applying henna depends on different factors, such as the original color of the hair and quality of henna. You can mix henna with other natural hair dyes to obtain the desired color. There are some products available in the markets that are selling these natural hair dyes along with the henna. Henna is not only the hair dye today. It has been used for many purposes. It is now a part of each wedding, and the bride looks incomplete with henna. More importantly, it is not costly, and everyone can easily afford it. It is a good product for hair and skin because it is free from harsh chemicals.