Where do you go to get good henna?  How do you know if the henna's good?

Can you get good henna at the local store?

You can find henna supplies at your local Indian or Middle Eastern grocery store.  However, henna is perishable (its powdered dried plant leaves), and if it's been sitting on the shelf a long time, it may have lost it's dye strength.  It might never have been good in the first place. Sometimes you can find good henna on a store shelf, other times you'll be disappointed! Store shelf hennas are often not only stale, they may be very poorly processed, with adulterants, and may be poorly sifted.  Even if you go to the effort to sift henna you've found at a bargain, it may be impossible to use if  if it's the notorious Karjackistan brown twig henna*.

If you order from The Henna Page Suppliers, you can be more certain of getting fresh body art quality henna!  All of the henna suppliers listed in The Henna Page Suppliers are specialists in henna body art, sell good henna.  There are other henna suppliers on the internet, but those listed on Henna Page have signed a statement assuring their ethics and product quality.  Those who didn't meet the terms of the statement didn't get listed. Shop at Henna Page with confidence!  If you're wondering about a particular henna, ask on the Henna Page Forum!

Is "greener" better?
Many people believe "greener" henna is better henna. This is just a marketing ploy.  In India and some other countries, shovelfulls of green dye and green dyed sand are tossed into henna to give it more "eye appeal". See: Green Dye in Henna for more information.  In the Indian henna industry, this is referred to as "polishing" the henna.  Similarly, in the USA, apples are coated with wax and oils to give them "eye appeal".  Neither the green dye nor the wax have anything to do with the quality of the original product.  Of all the hennaes photographed above, the one in the middle of the bottom row gives the best stain.  You just can't tell by looking at the powder what the stain is going to be like.  If you want to know if your henna is dyed green to make it look good, mix henna with lemon juice and put it between two sheets of glass and leave it there for 15 minutes or so.  If the exporter added green dye, you'll be able to see the bright green dots appear in the henna.  They may be large enough for you to see without a magnifying glass.  If you want to see what henna has green dye and what the green dye is, go to "Henna at 60x"!

How long will henna last?
If you find a henna you love, buy plenty and store it!  If you put your henna in an airtight, light-proof container in your freezer, it'll stay good for years!  If you leave your henna in the light, in an opened box, or in a hot place, it will lose its dye potency!

Which henna should you buy?
Henna  is a large bush that's pruned back several times a year to harvest the henna leaves.  The best crops come after a prolonged drought and high temperatures, when the rains have just begun. Yemeni, Indian, and Pakistani crops that are harvested soon after the beginning of the monsoon rains are usually the best of the year.  Moroccan crops harvested after the early spring rains are usually the best of the year. Dryer climate,  hotter temperatures usually make for higher dye content in the henna!  The Henna Page Suppliers generally know where their henna is from and when it was harvested, and can show you results of the most recent crop.  You're not going to get that in a shop.  Buy from The Henna Page Suppliers!  Different hennas are .... different.  Everyone has a favorite.  Try a few and find out what works for you!

How do you know if the henna's good?
"Good" depends on what you want from your henna. Different hennas are "good" for different purposes.   If an intense stain is your first concern, you'll just have to test the henna, or ask on the Henna Page Forum what people are presently using. Henna harvests vary from one year to the next, and what worked last year might not work this year. You can't tell stain by looking at the powder.  You've got to try it out, or ask someone who has tried some.  Everyone has a few favorites, ask!

If you want more than just good stain, if you want a fine sift, no green dye, and no grit .... have a look through a microscope!  You'll be amazed at what you find out by looking close up at different henna powders!  Want to look at henna close up? Go to "Henna at 60x"!

Sift chunky henna:
Very few henna powders are perfectly sifted.  Does your henna glop, clog, and jam when you try to apply it through a fine tip?  Grit and plant scrap are getting stuck in the tip!  Here's how to sift chunky henna for smooth paste that doesn't argue with you:

All text and images on this page
copyright 2003
all rights reserved
Catherine Cartwright-Jones
The Henna Page

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*OK .. once in a while I have to lighten up and have a sense of humor, otherwise I'll take myself too seriously, and other people will too (which is pernicious and dangerous).  There is no Karjackistan, and there is no brown twig henna, but there are hennas out there that are totally useless, but if I listed them by brand name, I'd be lawsuit central. Understand?  Hint?
Catherine Cartwright-Jones