Monday, May 25, 2009

I Suppose I've Been Thinking About it For so Long...

... that I didn't realize I hadn't posted anything for almost the whole month! So tonight I've decided that I need to do my long awaited Henna post!

I've been making a lot of henna lately to practice and get my recipe right, because my sister has asked me to do some henna for the ladies at her baby shower this coming weekend. I am really excited, and it should be loads of fun. So here are pics of the trial runs lately. And in case you are interested or popped over from the henna forum, here's the recipe I used:

2 T. strong tea, herbal mix
2 T. lemon juice (I use bottled, but fresh is supposed to be better)
1 T. sugar (I left this out a couple of times, and it just doesn't stay on my skin as well without it)

Mix these ingredients together, warm a little (not hot, just warmer than room temp.), and set aside.

Measure about 3 T. Rajasthani Monsoon Henna (you can buy it here, or get some other good body art quality henna and tweak the recipe) into a ceramic bowl (it can be plastic if you don't mind staining it, but don't use metal, it's too reactive to the acid).

Mix in the liquid and stir really well. You want it mega smooth. I actually use my stick blender for this part! Purists will tell you this is awful, but it gets it really smooth and I don't have to strain it.

The texture should be the thickness of gel toothpaste (but not as shiny!). I used a total of about 3 1/2 T. henna to get a good texture for my climate. To avoid adding lumps after already stirring well, sift the henna evenly over the top of the mixture if you add more. To test the texture, put a small drop on the back of your hand. You want to see a soft peak, that will curve down, but not quite sink all the way down, and if it spreads out past your original dot, it's too thin. Now that that explanation is clear as mud (seriously call me if you have a question, or better yet just come over and we'll do it together), add some essential oils.

I added 7 drops of lavender. I usually add lavender (5 drops) and eucalyptus (5 drops) and I think it stains better, but since my templates (guests at the shower) are an unknown quantity, I don't want to risk any stronger terps than lavender.

Mix it in well and cover it with plastic wrap like you would pudding, with the plastic touching the surface of the henna. Put a tissue, with some coins of something for weight on top of the plastic. In about 6 hours (at room temp., 72-75ish degrees) pick up the tissue and you should see an orange spot where the coins were sitting. This is good! It means you have achieved dye release from the henna and it is ready for application. If there is absolutely no orange at all, leave it and check again in a couple of hours, and check the temp in your house.

Spoon the henna into a pastry bag or applicator bottle or (if you are really good) a mylar cone (I haven't mastered that yet; I just progressed to a pastry bag with a tiny tip). Store it in the back of the fridge until you are ready to use it. Mine stays usable (still gets a good stain) for almost a week if kept in the fridge every second it's not in use. The henna "demises" faster the warmer it gets. It doesn't rot or anything gross, it just won't stain your skin anymore. If you don't use it all (I can do my 5 kids, my husband's hand, 1 of my hands and both feet, and a couple of friends' hands or feet, and still have some left over with this quantity) you can freeze it or use it for your hair.

All of the techniques and scientific explanations can be found at the henna page (, and many other places on the 'net, but the henna page is the best.

Whew! SO here are some pics. Any that look really dark are probably pics with the henna still on, and the lighter ones are probably just b/c I waited too long to take pics, and the design was already fading. BTW, when it's good henna and freshly made, the designs last at least 2 weeks and up to about 4 before they are gone totally, depending on the body part you apply it to.

So, what do you think?

Monday, May 4, 2009

This One is for Sister Martin

Now scroll up and down really fast! (or as fast as your connection and computer will allow)