What is henna? Henna is a flowering plant native to the tropical and subtropical parts of Africa and southern Asia which produces a red-orange dye known as hennotannic acid or lawsone. Lawsone can react to the keratin protein in the skin and hair, creating a stain, so people have been using it as dye for more than 5000 years. Henna is used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, leather and wool.

Henna body paintings and henna tattoos are made by applying a lawsone paste made by mixing the powder henna with a mildly acidic liquid like lemon juice on the outer layer of the skin and leaving it there for 6 to 12 hours.

How Henna Tattoos Are Made

The henna paste will to crack and fall after drying so try and dab a bit of sugar and lemon mix over the dried paste. The longer the henna paste will stay on the better your tattoo will color. After removal the design made with the henna paste the stain will be orange but it should darken after a few days until it becomes reddish brown.

Henna Body Painting and Body Art

Warming or steaming the henna paste while it is still applied on the skin makes the stain darken. Henna body paintings and henna tattoos can last from a few days to over a month. The henna tattoo will start to fade gradually due to skin shedding. Using natural henna has not triggered any negative side effects but premixed henna pastes can contain chemical ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.

Some pastes can contain carmine, silver nitrate and disperse orange dye which can also cause allergic reactions

Tips! Use only natural henna. Don’t confuse black henna with natural henna, because black henna is made from a plant called Indigofera tinctoria and in combination with henna it was used to dye hair black. Black henna will not dye your skin black.