Henna is used as a decorative art to adorn feet and hands. It is also used to color hair and nails. Henna comes from the dried leaves of the henna plant. The dried leaves are ground to powder and mixed with eucalyptus oil, tea, coffee and lime (or some combination of these) to produce a paste that is applied to hands, feet, nails and hair. The art of painting designs on hands and feet is called mehndi (sometimes spelled as mendhi). There are several things you can do to enhance the rich color of henna.
Enhance Henna Hair Coloring
Choose an already mixed paste, or mix your own henna from powdered sachets to color your hair. When mixing your own henna, you need to add water and pectin according to the manufacturer's instructions. Lighter shades of hair will gain red highlights, while darker shades will have an auburn shine. Always select the freshest henna for the best results.
Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to enhance a rich gold or copper color and combat oily hair. Mix 3 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with the henna paste you'll use to color your hair.
Add 1 tbsp. cognac and 1 tbsp. olive oil to your henna paste if you wish to create a deep red hair color. To add golden highlights, substitute a Ceylon or Black China tea that has steeped for 20 to 30 minutes for the liquid in your powdered-henna paste.
Enhance Henna Tattoos
Ensure that the skin is clean and moist prior to applying henna tattoos. Sunblock, lotions and sweat may prevent the henna from setting correctly.
Increase body temperature to darken henna markings. Take a hot bath before doing your henna, or exercise after the henna has been applied.
Enhance the color of henna tattoos and staining by keeping the henna paste wet. It is best to buy an already mixed henna paste in a cone. If the mixture doesn't contain eucalyptus oil, apply some to your hands prior to the henna application. This will keep it wet for longer. Keep applied henna moist by dabbing gently with lemon juice and cotton swabs. This will prevent it from drying out and falling off.
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Nicole Fotheringham has been a writer since 1997. She was born in South Africa and began as a reporter for the "Natal Mercury" and "Cape Argus" newspapers. Fotheringham has a master's degree in English literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.