What is henna?
Henna body art is a thousands year old tradition. Evidence of its use as a cosmetic has been discovered on the hair and nails of ancient Egyptian mummies. For an incredibly thorough account of henna's rich and ancient history, please visit my friend and colleague's website by clicking the link below.
Henna (Lawsonia Inermis) is a woody shrub that thrives in hot and arid climates. The henna plant produces extremely fragrant and delicate flowers, which have been used in perfumes since ancient times. The leaves of the henna plant are harvested, dried, and then ground into a fine powder. This lovely silken green powder is made into a paste using safe and natural ingredients.
The paste is applied to the skin using a fine tipped applicator, and produces the familiar burgundy stains that have adorned the hands and feet of women for thousands of years. People of Africa, India, and the Middle East have traditions infused with the act of applying henna during auspicious, and celebratory times.
Preparing the Henna
Natural henna moves at its own pace, refusing to be hurried. Heartfire's hand made paste requires several hours of resting and stirring, during which time the dye becomes available for staining our skin. It is then strained of the larger fibers, making it silky smooth, and transferred to hand-rolled cone applicators. A design is applied free-hand with grace and a practiced hand. Once the henna paste has been applied, we wait for about 4-6 hours before the paste is removed. When the paste is first removed, it can take three days for the initial light orange stain to mature and darken. Patience, and the absence of water during this time, will allow the stain to mature to a beautiful dark brown/burgundy color.
Heartfire Henna paste is made from organic henna powder, black tea, and natural essential oils. Natural paste requires patience, and rewards us with the same sensuous red stain warn by the ancients.
Black Henna is not Natural Henna...
**Black henna is not natural henna. Sometimes people will add the chemical para-phenylenediamine (black hair dye) to their henna paste in order to achieve a jet black stain in just a few minutes. Never put black henna on your skin! The reaction to this dangerous chemical is systemic. It can leave your body with long term chemical sensitivities, liver and kidney damage, and permanent scarring on the skin.**
Ask your artist what's in their paste, and stay away from inky black paste that smells unpleasant.