Resist techniques
Resist techniques were used prior to the 20th century in southern Algeria, Western Sahara, Niger, Nigeria, and  Mauritania.  People used sticky sap from plants to make a pattern on the skin, then put thick henna paste over that. Nigerian women put henna paste in a long, large gourd, then immersed their hand and arm the gourd full of henna.  The henna stained the skin where there was no resist.  Resist technique is ideal for dark skinned people, as the thick application of henna paste maximizes stain.  Resist techniques are also ideal for chunky, poorly sifted henna that have great stain but poor texture.

You can use paste or surgical tape to make resists. 

paste resist
Paste resist techinique: "How to"

In present day Mauritania, henna artists make complex, beautiful patterns with surgical tape. This is a popular and lucrative industry for Mauritanian women.  "Le Henne', arte des femmes de Mauritanie" by Aline Tauzin, published by Ibis Press, Editions Unesco, 1998, ISBN 92-3-2-3487-5  is an an excellent book on Mauritanian henna resist technique and traditions.

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