Henna Tattoos or Nonpermanent Body Art
Henna tattoos have recently grown popular in the U.S. because they offer the wearer the appearance of a tattoo, but don’t have to deal with the permanent nature of actually getting inked. This non-permanent body art is perfect for those seeking a “test drive” of body art before getting permanently marked. They are great for spur of the moment decisions to get body art.
The Henna or Hina is a flowering plant. It is native to subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Austalasia. Henna is a small tree that is 6 to 15 feet tall. The leaves contain lawsone, which is the key ingredient in a henna tattoo.
Henna tattoos and body art is done by applying a henna paste to the skin. The ingredient lawsone in the henna paste saturates the top layer of skin and produces a reddish/brown stain that lasts for up to a month, depending on the person. Henna body art has been done for centuries by some cultures and is still very popular in India and other areas around the world. Henna body art has also become very popular in beach resort areas as a way to make money from people on vacations and tourist looking for a cool souvenir to show off when they get home.
Henna leaves do not stain the skin on their own. Henna does not stain the skin until lawsone molecules are released out of the leaf itself. Henna leaves will in fact stain your skin if they are mixed and grinded up with an acidic base liquid of some type. This concoction will color the skin in a short time, but is difficult to make elaborate designs with coarse, crushed henna leaves alone. Dried, ground and then sifted henna leaves are made into a thick paste that is used to make elaborate artwork anywhere on the body a person chooses. Commercial henna powders are made by drying out the henna leaf and grinding them into a fine powder. The henna powder is sifted several times to remove any debris. The henna powder is then mixed with lemon juice in addition to a strong tea blend, coffee or other numerous types of acidic liquids.
Essential oils with high levels of terps or monoterpene alcohols like tea tree oil or eucalyptus even lavender, will improve the consistency of the staying power of the henna paste. The henna concoction must set for up to 12 hours before application so that the cellulose in the leaf is dissolved making the ingredient lawsone more concentrated and able to stain the skin. The henna is then mixed into a thick toothpaste consistency and then it is applied to the skin with tools of different types and also techniques depending on shading, and thicker and thinner paste techniques or the most modern is the cellophane cone technique much like a cake decorating tool. Many cones may be used in one design application depending on thick or thin lines and dots.
Once the henna paste is placed onto the skin the lawsone in the paste slowly pull from the henna into the top layer of skin. Although the lawsone in the henna paste will color the skin in just a few minutes, the longer you leave it on, the better the color will take to the skin. Henna will give the skin as much color as the skin can absorb in about eight or so hours. Henna paste will then crack and fall off as it dries on the skin during the next eight hours after application. The henna is then potted by placing a lemon and sugar mixture over the drying paste. Some may add the sugar to the paste initially. The adding of the sugar can also add to the color of the finished art and ultimately increasing the brightness of the shading.
When the paste has completely dried and fallen off or has been removed by a scraping technique, the color will be an orange/red. The color darkens over the next few days to a reddish color that lasts for some time. The soles of the feet and palms of the hands have the thickest layers of skin and will draw more lawsone than any other part of the body, these areas will also take the color deeper and last longer than other areas of the body. Hands and feet will most likely have the deepest color and are some of the most popular areas for henna body art. You can warm or even use steam on the design after application and your art will darken faster than without. Applying steam while the paste is on the skin or after the paste has been removed aids in the staining process immensely. Pool water, alkaline and some soap can affect the setting process of the henna once it has saturated the skin. After the henna stain reaches its darkest color it appears to fade. The henna is not actually fading however the skin exfoliates the less colored cells to the top until all stained skin cells are gone.
Henna tattoos can look amazing, but they won’t last forever. If you are ready to step up to some body art that can be very colorful and last a lifetime, why not check out the huge gallery of tattoos over at Chopper Tattoo. Who knows, you may find one you just love. And if you do, all you need to do is print it out, and then take it to you local tattoo artist and get it inked to your skin.
Otzi, the Iceman found in the Alps, had 58 tattoos. They were dots and lines along his lower spine, behind the left knee and on his right ankle.