Henna is a plant that has been used to temporarily dye the skin for centuries. Most people associate henna with India, but there have also been historical mentions of the plant and its dye in Ancient Rome and across Ancient Northern Africa.
My Henna artwork derives from India, as I have spent much time practicing the Mehndi style of body decoration used in Indian festivals and weddings. Mehndi consists of beautiful florals, abstracted animals, and bold patterns.
I use pre-ground henna leaves that come in a ‘henna kit’ to tattoo myself and others. These kits can be found at just about any craft store, and are very affordable.
Depending on the quality of the henna (which does vary from kit to kit) the fairness and type of the skin, and the length of time the henna is allowed to sit on the skin, henna tattoos may last from a few days to a month. Henna stains the top layers of the skin, and the only way to remove the patterns is to exfoliate naturally. Henna stains darkest on the palms of the hands, and on the feet. After the Henna has darkened overnight, the patterns on the skin will range in color from a light red-orange, to a deep coffee color.
Only a very small percentage of people have a negative reaction to pure henna. Only infants and those with Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency should avoid henna. Otherwise, 100% pure henna is completely safe. Because children with Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency especially, will have a negative reaction to the henna, it is not advised to apply henna to a child under 6 unless you are 100% that they do not have G6PD deficiency.
Black henna is not pure, and is almost never safe. Do not use Black Henna!!!