Re: New Henna User

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Posted by Lauren on June 3, 2002 at 21:12:55:

In reply to: New Henna User posted by Sharon on June 3, 2002 at 19:23:27:

: I had a henna design done for me at an art festival, and now I am
: really interested in trying it myself.

Bwahahaha! We hooked another one! Seriously, it's a lot of fun and
you've come to the right place for advice :)

What supplies would a first
: timer need?

All you really need is good quality henna, an acid like lemon juice,
and something to apply the henna with. Many people and many cultures
add other stuff but these are the bare-bones essentials. I highly
recommend not wasting your time and money buying boxed henna from a
store or premade paste as they don't work predictably well. Get your
henna from an artist who gives you the same professional quality
stuff they use.

I am not sure whether I should use the cone (or carrot)
: applicator or the sqeeze bottle applicator.

The only advantage of a squeeze bottle is that it's easier to learn
to use. A carrot bag is much easier on the hand and you can get some
effects that are more difficult with a static tip. You can get the
best of both worlds by using a carrot bag with an icing or pastry tip
inside. I think the size I use is a 001.

And what differences are
: there between using tea and lemon juice as compared to the
: oils?

Lemon juice is an acid. Acids are necessary to get the dye to
release in powdered henna. You can use anything from lemon, lime, or
grapefruit juice to red wine to pickle juice and get about the same
There are various ingredients that traditionally help the henna stain
darker or redder that are found in many tea blends. Primary among
these are cloves. I don't know if anyone has done scientific tests
with cloves but in my experience it doesn't change anything. Many
other ingredients are there for scent only, like rose leaves. For
weddings, I use a tea blend of rose and hibiscus petals, cloves,
black tea, and coffee.
Essential oils have been proven in scientific tests to change the
staining properties of henna. Non-oiled paste must be applied,
sealed, wrapped, and left on several hours to give a stain on hands
and feet of 4-6 weeks duration and a few days to a week anywhere
else. Adding oil to the same paste will make it stain anywhere on
the body, and all you have to do is apply and let it dry and fall
off, especially if the weather is warm. The downside of using oil is
the stain lasts only 2-3 weeks in best cases, but while traditional-
paste stains fade through a week or two of orange-sherbet color,
oiled paste goes from excellent to pretty decent straight to nothing
with very little orange phase.

Can anyone recommend a good starter kit?

Many people on this list (including myself) sell kits. In many
cases, it may be cheaper to get all your ingredients together in a
kit instead of buying them separately. However, since all you really
need is powder and an applicator, consider carefully the ingredients
of a kit before buying. Many commercial kits tend to have very
little actual henna in them. I wouldn't bother with less than 50
grams. Some kits are more "atmospheric" than strictly functional,
including incense, music, or other nonessentials which can add to the
overall experience but also add to the price. Since there is such a
variety of free designs available on the Internet, I feel that paying
extra for a design book is kind of silly. You can also get good
instructions for applying for free.
Best of luck, and please post more if you have any more questions!


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