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The Henna Page Journal
Henna and People of Color
Catherine Cartwright Jones
Page 5 of 9

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Front cover

The wide array of medium dark skin tones can be complimented with either reddish or darkened henna. The reddish tones over dark skin will have low contrast creating subtle effects. If this is desired, apply a henna paste from a rainy season harvest mixed only with lemon juice, allow it to dry, and seal it to the skin. If the air temperature is cool, warm the hennaed area with steam from a tea kettle, simmering pan of water or garment steamer frequently over several hours. If the temperature is hot, over 90F, that will be sufficient to set the color over several hours. If the air is chilly, wrap the henna to protect the pattern from being brushed away by clothing and bedding, and to deepen the stain.

Patterns for subtle effects

To wrap henna, let the paste dry completely on the skin, and seal it down with New Skin, or another preferred sealer. Apply cotton fluff, available from beauty supply shops or quilting supply shops, or toilet paper, wrapped around thickly enough to absorb perspiration. There must be enough absorbing material to prevent perspiration dripping and smearing the pattern. Wrap over that with cling wrap, and secure it with packing tape. Over several hours or overnight, the wrap will trap heat and moisture, rehydrating the henna paste. This enables greater stain penetration, and gives richer color results. Additional steaming will intensify the color. Pictures of wrapping henna are at: Mehandi:

Make use of thicker areas of skin, such as backs of fingers and across the knuckles. These areas stain easily, so henna patterns will be most distinct there. Skin on the top of the hand is thinner, and the stain there will be more transparent. Further up the arm, the oil content of the skin will resist henna uptake. Toes and tops of feet and legs have similar stain characteristics.

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