Henna paste has to stay on the skin for a while to make a stain.  The hennotannic acid molecule, Lawsone, goes into your skin and stains it just the way tea from a wet tea bag goes into a tablecloth and makes a stain.  The longer the henna is on your skin, the better the stain.  Henna paste often cracks and falls off the skin before it gets a chance to stain.

To keep henna on your skin, add some sugar to the the henna.  This makes it stick better, and makes the henna paste smoother and silkier to work with. 

Some henna artists use honey rather than sugar.  Others dissolve a piece of sugar candy into the lemon juice.  Jaggery is an Indian sugar, similar to a solid lump of brown sugar.  Dissolve jaggery or sugar candy  into lemon juice.  All of these things work to make a paste silkier, smoother, crack less, and stick to the skin better:

Remember: every henna is different, and every day is different  On humid days you may need less sugar, and on dry days, you may need more! Try things out yourself and write the results down in a notebook!

Want to know more about Henna and Sugars?  Go Here!

How do Henna Page Artists add Sweet Stuff?

Erika: photographed above, "I add 1 teaspoon of sugar per 100g of henna, before I add the lemon juice". 

Alissa: "I add white (table) sugar to my mix, in approximately a 5-to-1 ratio with the dry henna powder mixed. In dry climates, adding sugar helps to keep the henna moist and naturally encourages adhesiveness."

Willowhawk "I like to add unrefined sugars to my powder when mixing it.  Turbinado or raw sugar, brown sugar and jaggery (Indian cone sugar) are my two favorites to choose from.  Why unrefined sugars?  Well they seem to be a bit more sticky when I mix it up, although it very well may be my imagination.  When I am out of any of those I do use plain refined white sugar and it works just as well.
When using raw or brown sugar I add 1-2 tbsp to the powder.  If it's jaggery I grate about 1/4 cup (it is fluffy after I grate it, and I don't pack it down) and add that.  With jaggery I tend to mix the paste a bit more to make sure it's been fully incorporated in the mixture."

Zimra: "I use pomegranate syrup (pomegranate juice with sugar) or pomegranate molasses in my henna mix. I use around a scant tablespoon per 100 grams henna. The syrup/molasses blends easily with the henna, and makes the henna adhere to the skin quite well. I occasionally add tamarind (either from pods, or from a block of processed tamarind fruit) to my “witches brew;” or I add tamarind syrup to the henna mix. Tamarind is very acidic and gooey! The first really red stain I got came from henna with tamarind paste, so I feel kind of nostalgic. Proportions: I use about ½ a tamarind pod in one cup of water for the brew, and a scant tablespoonful of tamarind syrup per 100 grams henna."

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

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