What Is A Henna Tattoo?

We all have heard about it but what do people truly know about Henna?

Not a lot I can tell you that much. Here is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about what a Henna tattoo is, where the term originates from, the rich cultural history tied to it full of traditional significance, and how you can get started with yours right away!

henna tattoo

What is Henna?

Henna is a dye, the ingredients for which are extracted from a plant known as Lawsonia inermis, otherwise known as the henna tree. Some of the other names for this plant are the mignonette tree and the Egyptian privet. It happens to be the only species of the plant Lawsonia to be alive.

While the true essence of the word lies in the roots, no pun intended, henna is also referred to as body art. It is temporary and made possible through staining of the skin from the dyes of the aforementioned plant.

When the dye is applied, it takes its time to develop the color on your skin and then stays on for a few days before it starts to fade due to exfoliation of the skin.

Culture and History:

Henna dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, where the daughter of Seqenenre Tao, ruler of the kingdom of Theban region of Egypt, used to dye the edges of her hair red with the dye.

In Europe, henna has been popular among women from the aesthetic movement and the Pre-Raphaelite artists of England from the 1800s. The famous opera singer Adelina Patti is also known for bringing into vogue the use of henna.

Muslim men have been culturally known to dye their hair and beards with henna. It is also considered sunnah, a praiseworthy tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.

From the respect henna has received throughout history to its use in the modern age, henna has a profound and rich history. Today it is commercially packaged and shipped off to many different countries in the form of hair dyes.


The use of Henna as body art:

Before diving into the tattoo side of henna, it is important to understand that it’s not the practice of tattooing the skin since that requires a needle and penetration of the skin for the ink to set. Henna is applied to the skin surface, and it sits on it like a dye. “Henna tattoo” is a marketing term only.

Henna has been used to embellish women’s bodies as a proud part of tradition and holidays. It dates back to the Bronze age. Nowadays, henna has become a huge market where the dye is used for tattoos on the body.

There is a wide variety of styles for the practice and use of henna. As it becomes more and more popular in Western markets, its demand naturally rises as well. The brown dye from henna is used to make creative and inspirational designs that hold tremendous spiritual significance.

You will mostly find henna tattoo creations on ceremonial events like weddings and whatnot. It brings an expression of love and happiness. With that out of the way, let’s get into how you can get started with henna tattoos!


How to make a henna tattoo:

Things you will need:

  • – Henna powder
  • – Essential oils
  • – Sugar
  • – Lemon juice
  • – Bob-metal bowl and spoon
  • – Decorating tip
  • – Rubbing alcohol
  • – Ziploc bag
  • – Plastic wrap
  • – Scissors
  • – Tape
  • – Gloves
  • – Mild soap
  • – Olive oil

Step 1:

You need to measure out ¼ cup of henna powder into a bowl. There are a few things to pay attention to here. If the powder is too brown, it means it is too old to be used since it won’t leave a good stain on your skin. If it is too green, it could indicate that the manufacturer has put a lot of dye in it to make it look fresh, which is also not good.

You can store the leftover powder in the freezer. The cold storage will help it stay fresh for a long period of time so you can make use of it again.

You need to vary the amount of powder you use by the size of the design you are going for. Make sure you sift henna so you get rid of all the lumps that may get stuck in the applicator tip when applying. Removing them will only make your journey easier.

To this powder in the bowl, you need to add 1 and a half teaspoons of sugar and 1 and a half teaspoons of essential oil. After mixing it well, you will find a silky-smooth texture. The oil is important since it helps in breaking and releasing the henna dye molecules.

Pro tip: Use oils that have Terpinols since they do a better job at incorporating with henna.

Step 2:

Now cover your bowl mixture with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 24hrs. This fall in temperature aids in drawing out the essence of the dye and will allow the color to develop as the henna molecules are released over time. Make sure your mixture looks silky smooth. It will start to get thicker over time, but that is perfectly fine.

Once you are set and ready to start after 24hrs of wait, scoop all of the mixtures out into your applicator bag (Ziploc bag) and cut a small corner of the bag for the dye to escape from. Make the bore as small or as big as you want, depending on how fine you want your application to be. Place the tube into the corner with its mouth hanging out of the hole you created. You can tape the sides of the bag shut with the tube so it doesn’t go anywhere. You have created an applicator for your tattoo!

Step 3:

Wash your skin thoroughly with water and soap. Make sure it is dry and ready to go. If it is oily, use more rubbing alcohol until you are sure it is ready. Some of the best places for henna tattoo application on your skin are your palms and your ankles. The warmer body parts will develop a better color.

Now prepare your bag and get ready to apply. With your design in front of you, start applying the dye to your skin. Before you start, use the applicator on blank paper to see how fast the dye comes out, so you are ready to use it. Make your design on the skin and take your time with it. No need to rush, and make sure you are delighted with it.

Now, you just let it dry, and it will develop color on its own. Wrap the design you made with plastic wrap and keep it covered for at least 10hrs. You will see the henna dye begin to crack, which is a good sign.

Once you remove the plastic wrap, apply olive oil to the design on your skin. Remove the excess dye with mild soap and water. Once cleaned, the design will take 12hrs to develop color and will turn darker.

And voila! You have your henna tattoo done!

How long does it last?

Many people who don’t know much about henna tattoos often think that they are permanent, which is not the case at all. They may be temporary, but there is no need to be sad about it since you can make sure they stay for a long time.

One way to improve its longevity is to let it stay on for a long time, so you get a darker stain when you take it off. Dark stains will take more time to fade away. The tattoo placement will also play a vital role since hands and feet, although warm, will fade quicker since they are used a lot.

The dye will rub off since hands and feet are washed a lot as well. Henna tattoos usually start fading after a week and start to disappear in 2 weeks. However, if you place them on the upper arm or your back, they can even last you 2 to 3 weeks.


Henna tattoo is a great body art if done correctly. And you can learn a lot about it from the information we have for you. Dive into the world of henna and start creating!