mehndi info pages

if you are looking for designs, see my sketchbook.

jump to the annotated link list below

what i do
i buy my henna mostly from castle art and imports and the mehandi shop. i have also purchased henna from body art supply and from kenzi at henna, modern mystical adornment. all three have worked very well for me. kenzi had the reddest stain, castle art and the mehandi shop both carry my favorite brand (jamilla, a very finely sifted powder), and body art supply had the brownest stain. all three of these suppliers sold me very fresh and dark staining powder. i use a recipe derived from various ones shared on the discussion forum at the henna page.

beware of black henna
henna's recent increase in popularity has created some modern imitations that are very dangerous. please educate and protect yourself. learn to tell the difference between safe traditional henna and toxic imitations. read the henna page's "black henna" warnings.

read this part--it could save you a rash
i'm not a professional mehndi artist. i'm a mehndi enthusiast who has developed a system that works for me. these directions give a deep brown/burnt sienna mehndi on my pale olive skin. they may or may not do the same for everyone. while this recipe contains 100% natural ingredients made mostly from things you'd find in your kitchen, you may be allergic to it, especially when they are combined in this manner. IMPORTANT: if you tend to have allergies or sensitive skin, do a patch test first. even if you don't think you will be allergic, do a patch test anyhow just to be on the safe side.

the basics
* use henna that is fresh, green, and fragrant
* add an acidic liquid to make a paste
* apply the paste to clean, dry, prepped skin
* let the paste sit for 2-8 hours (depending on how dark/long-lasting you want the stain and how patient you are)
* keep the paste moist and in contact with your skin

paste recipe
for one heaping tablespoon of sifted powder
add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil
add enough of the room temperature magic liquid elixir below to make a smooth paste about the consistency of cookie dough.

let the paste sit overnight in a sealed container away from any light/heat sources. the next day, add enough additional liquid (either coffee, tea, or more magic elixir) to get the mixture to a smooth toothpaste consistency. (thanks to Tap Dancing Lizard for this tip.)

magic liquid elixir recipe (this stuff is so good it will make low-grade henna stain well--thanks to DIVA for the idea)
boil 1 cup of lemon or lime juice
add one bag of black tea (lately i've been using my own chai blend instead)
add one scoop of coffee grounds
add one tablespoon of ground cloves
remove from heat, cover, and steep for about an hour
strain through a coffee filter
store in the fridge
rewarm as needed to use in the henna paste.

lemon juice fixative
use a microwave-safe container. mix two tablespoons of sugar with eight tablespoons of lemon juice. pop it in the microwave to get the lemon juice warm. stir until the sugar dissolves. let it cool before using. use this liquid to re-moisten the henna design once it starts to dry. the lemon juice boosts the acidity and the sugar glues the design to your skin.

skin prep
wash the area you are going to mehndi with soap and water. dry it well. moisten a cotton ball with witch-hazel and go over the area to remove any residue. take some eucalyptus oil and rub it into the skin.

stickpickcone i prefer to use a cone made out of plastic from a ziploc freezer bag because i can get very fine lines from them. i make eight cones from one bag and use butterfly clips to hold the tops shut and tape to keep the tip from leaking when i store the leftovers in the fridge. i use cocktail stirrers and toothpicks for cleanup of the occasional mistake. elizabeth roettger drafted a good cone-rolling diagram. i pretty much follow this procedure--except i put the paste in after i've rolled the cone. i roll several cones at once and keep them around for when i need them. catherine cartwright jones turned me on to the wonders of the carrot bag--which i now use when i need to fill a ton of cones at once (like at a mehndi party).

wrapping it up
your design is done, you've dabbed it with lemon juice a few times, and now it's dry. it is now time to wrap it up and cultivate patience. first, take some toilet paper, paper toweling, or unrolled cotton balls and wrap firmly over the hennaed area. BE SURE THAT THE HENNA PASTE IS DRY--if it isn't dry enough, the design will smoosh. if you live in a hot & humid climate like i do, this is probably all you will need to keep the area warm. i usually stick my hands/feet into socks if i'm going to bed, just to add an extra layer of protection. leave it on for at least two hours--overnight is best. and just so you have some options--there is an alternate method for wrapping which uses a product called nu-skin and cling wrap explained here by catherine of tap dancing lizard. i've tried the nu-skin but not the cling wrap (it's too sweaty here). on the plus side, the nu-skin held the detail extremely well. on the minus side the nu-skin was very difficult to remove. rubbing with sweet almond oil helped remove the residue, but it took patience.

happy me with very dark henna stain this is the fun part. gently scrape the paste off your skin using oil to help the process along. i use the blunt side of a butter knife and sweet almond oil. don't wash the area with water if you can possibly help it for the next 12 hours. initially the henna stain's color will range from neon orange to dark pumpkin, but will darken over the next few days to a color anywhere from teracotta to deep burnt umber and in some lucky cases (like this photo) nearly black.

annotated links
(am i missing your favorite mehndi site? mail me!)

  • jane's sketchbook page. that's my sketchbook. i have lineart diagrams of patterns i've found in various spots on the web and a few other places. plus a few photos of my mehndi work.

    (here's the best IMHO)
  • the henna page is perhaps the best henna site for information, pictures, history, and discussion.
  • skinshock does some really great body painting. they also have a mehndi gallery.
  • henna, modern mystical adornment has some information on moroccan henna and a gallery.

    (here's the rest in alphabetical order)

  • Ananke Henna Body Art and Creative Necessities has a gallery here.
  • the art and history of henna as bodyart has an faq and a bunch of links.
  • the art of mehendi by usha and ekta shah has a page of magazine articles in which they were featured and gallery with photographs of their work.
  • the body arts company--make and sell the henna pouch. they have a lesson on henna which has some photos scattered throughout.
  • body art supply is one place where i've purchased henna. they have great products you can order over the web. they have a henna FAQ, a henna history, detailed descriptions of every product they carry, and a photo gallery.
  • has a short entry on henna.
  • castle art & import is the other place i buy my henna for mehndi. the prices are great and the henna quality is amazing. they also sell bindis, stencils, and pattern books.
  • cresent moon henna has a page of design ideas and a mehndi gallery.
  • gilded lilies mehndi body art has a very nice gallery.
  • gingers house of mehndi has aftercare tips, an FAQ, and a mehndi art gallery.
  • helwa henna does henna in stockton, ca and has a history of henna, henna tips, and a gallery of hennaed hands and feet on its pages.
  • henna by heather has a gallery and links page.
  • flavia mcqueen of henna caravan has a lovely site with delightful photos.
  • henna tattoos dallas does mehandi, face painting and temporary tattoos. they have a nice gallery on their site.
  • how to grow your own henna for the green thumbs among us. (this excludes me!)
  • inannas palace has a gaia mehndi photo gallery.
  • jenna henna is a kansas city-based outfit whose neatest page is on the different ways each region prepares henna. they also have a gallery of their work.
  • mehndi art by april has recipes, pictures, and history of henna.
  • mehndi designs webpage has hand designs available as well as brief instructions on how to mix and apply the henna paste.
  • mehndi mud's main goal is to sell you their pre-mixed paste (there's nothing wrong with that!) and they do have a nice photo tour and thumbnail gallery. they also have a message board and chat room.
  • natural expressions sells mehandi supplies, and has a gallery.
  • new moon henna is based in fort worth, texas. they have the beginnings of a nice mehndi gallery.
  • qamar franji eastern arts has a henna arts section on their website. they also sell henna and have several gallery pages with very nice designs.
  • red veil mehndi is no longer in business, but their photo gallery is still up.
  • urban primitive HAD some of the most beautiful photographs of mehndi i'd ever seen--they seem to have removed the mehndi section from their site when they redesigned. anyhow, here's a link to where the index of mehndi photos used to be, in case they reappear. even if they don't have photos of mehndi up anymore, their tattoo art is PHENOMENAL! so check them out anyhow.

    mehndi sketchbook page
    email me