Henna and Fingernails
"How to"
How to henna fingernails:

Prepare your usual henna mix.

Clean your nails and push back the cuticles.  Trim your nails if you wish.  If you soak your fingertips in hot water for fifteen minutes, the keratin will soften a little and you'll get a better stain.


You can apply henna in several ways:

  • Make a fine paste line near your top knuckle, and let that dry.  Apply thick henna paste up to that line.  As the paste dries and bare spots open up, fill those in with more henna.  Leave that on for one hour or more.  For darker color and more even stain, scrape the paste back and reapply henna a second time.




This is the stain twelve hours after paste removal.  The stain continues to darken over forty-eight hours.  The stain may be dark as the picture at the top of the page or a deep red color, depending on your skin and the henna you use.

Other techniques from history:
  • Mix the henna very thick, like pie dough, and press the thick paste onto your fingertips and fingernails.  This will drive out the little air pockets between the henna and the skin so you won’t have splotchy fingertips.  Leave the henna on until the paste dries and falls off, then reapply for a darker color.  This technique was commonly used in rural Iraq and other countries in the Middle East until the early twentieth century.
  • Wrap thread or floss around your fingers, about the level of the top knuckle, and apply henna paste over that.  That will give you a very neat line even if your henna is rough and chunky.  When the paste cracks off, reapply for a darker, more even color.  This is the technique commonly used in Turkey and North Africa up until the nineteenth century.

Henna penetrates the part of the nail near the cuticle more easily than the part of the nail near the tip, because this keratin is softer and more recently formed.  If you henna your nails every week, the stain will be darker and more even through the length of the nail.

Fingernails Grow

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*"Henna, the Joyous Body Art" 
the Encyclopedia of Henna
Catherine Cartwright-Jones c 2000 
registered with the US Library of Congress
TXu 952-968