Everything You Need to Know About Mehndi

Everything You Need to Know About Mehndi

Mehndi, also known as Henna, is a traditional paste that is made into designs for men and women on their skin. While it was traditionally used for both men and women on their palms, it has become far more common for women to wear it, especially during special occasions such as marriage, religious and traditional ceremonies. It is said that Mehndi designs often times are meant to resemble the outer and inner sun, which is derived from the idea of awakening one’s inner light. However, that isn’t necessarily the only design that is used with Mehndi. The most common types of Mehndi are Arabic Mehndi, Pakistani Mehndi, and Indian Mehndi, all of which will vary slightly from one another.


Mehndi, also known as henna tattoo, design on the hands


Mehndi has been around for well over five thousand years and is thought to be a deep seeded symbol of health, sensuality, and luck. The main reason for this is because the plant used to create Mehndi is thought to be associated with positive energy, which is linked to Baraka and Jnoun. It is primarily made of ground henna leaves which have been dried, and the designs-whether they’re simple or intricate-are typically applied to the feet and hands.


Mehndi is applied with the tip of a tiny plastic cone, allowing for complex designs.


While its roots are traced in India and the Arab world, it has traveled across the world to the West in the 1990’s. However, their name was slightly altered to henna tattoos instead of henna or Mehndi. In Western culture, the traditional sense of celebration is lost in many ways, and instead, is used as an accessory. It’s also said that due to the limited number of traditional Mehndi artists, most people now purchase ready-made henna cones which anyone can use. This is the traditional form that the Western world will usually purchase to use rather than grinding up dried henna leaves themselves.


Henna has spread to use in the Western world from India


What to expect when using Henna:

  1. Henna paste should typically be applied via this plastic cone or with a paint brush.

  2. Leave the henna on for 15-20 minutes while the mud dries and begins to crack.

  3. Once the mud begins to crack, apply a mixture of lemon juice and white sugar over the design to re-moisten the henna mud so that the stain will be darker. You will adjust this step as desired.

  4. Wrap the painted area with tissue or plastic with some medical tape. This step helps to lock in the body heat which nurtures a darker color on the skin.

  5. You’ll wear the wrap for 2-5 hours or over-night. (Note: This is not the traditional method, but, it does create a longer lasting design)

  6. After the wrap is removed, wash and remove the remaining mud from your skin.

  7. Note: The color of the henna will be pale orange in color at first, but will darken over the next 24-72 hours.

  8. You can expect your new henna design to last up to three weeks depending on the quality of paste you purchased.


Colorful henna designs of the foot and leg


During the life of your Mehndi design, you’ll want to nourish it with natural oils such as:

  • Olive oil.

  • Sesame seed oil.

  • Coconut oil.

Do not exfoliate the skin around your design as it can cause it to fade prematurely.


A complex henna design going up the arms of a bride


You can find henna supplies at:

  • Your local Indian or Middle Eastern market or grocery stores.

  • Online.

  • Novelty stores.

Remember, you want to make sure you’re purchasing the freshest henna available to you; it will ensure that you’re happy with your designs. Stale hennas won’t work as well.


Henna is traditionally worn on the fingertips and palms, but can be used almost anywhere.


If you don’t want to purchase pre-mixed henna, you can purchase powder that you mix yourself by following these instructions:

  1. Sift your henna. This prevents clumps and makes the paste smoother and easier to use.

  2. Mix your henna and lemon juice.

  3. Stir and combine the dried henna until it forms a smooth paste.

  4. You can mix in your sugar or honey with the mixture to skip the step of adding lemon juice and sugar during the process of creating your Mehndi designs.

  5. Place your paste in an air-tight bottle or container that’s easy to use. I’d suggest using a squeeze bottle with a screw-on top.




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