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The Science of Henna
Color & Longevity

Getting good henna color is easy once you understand the "whys" behind the rules. There are many things that will effect the results of your henna. Below are the major factors to consider. Keeping these in mind while doing henna, will help you get the best possible henna stain.

  • The cleanliness of the skin being tattooed.
    Oils, lotions, sun block, and sweat are all barriers that will prevent the henna from staining as darkly as it could.
  • The part of the body being hennaed.
    Thicker skin stains better than thinner skin. Generally, you can assume palms of the hands and soles of the feet stain the best and the further away from these areas you get, the lighter the henna tattoo stain.
  • How long the moist henna is in contact with the skin.
    The longer you leave the henna paste on the skin, the darker and longer lasting your color, because it stains more layers of skin cells. As the skin cells exfoliate away, there are still layers of stained skin below them, and that is why your tattoo will stay much longer if you leave the paste on longer. This is why I suggest a minimum of 4 hours of skin contact with the henna paste.
  • Body temperature is a HUGE factor in releasing henna dye.
    People with higher body temperature typically get better stains. You can add heat by using a wrap on your henna design.
    When you are warm, your skin cells expand because they are trying to release heat. When you are cold, they contract becuase they are trying to hold in heat. This means when you are warm there is more surface area to stain and more room for the dye in the henna molecules to penetrate the skin cells.

    Imagine you have a balloon that has not been blown up yet and you color the outside of the balloon with a marker. The balloon is completely covered with rich color. What happens when you blow that balloon up? Your richly colored balloon is now covered in very pale color. Now that the balloon is blown up and you color it, you have a deep rich color again. That is why we want nice warm "blown up" skin cells to henna!
  • How the dried henna is removed.
    Do NOT use water when removing the dried henna paste. The paste should be scraped off and any stubborn bits can be removed using olive oil. Avoid water for as long as practical.
  • How well you care for the henna tattoo.
    Water should be avoided for as long as possible (24 hours is the goal, but normally not possible). Avoid anything that will exfoliate the skin (chlorinated water, salt water, household cleaners, face wash, smoothing lotions).
  • The henna mix that was used.
    Fresh mixed henna will leave better longer lasting color than pre-mixed henna. Play with your henna recipe to find what works best for you. Keep in mind that you must allow sufficient time for the henna to release it's dye when you mix your own henna.
  • The amount and type of essential oil in your henna.
    Go to the "How to Mix Henna" page and scroll to teh bottom for details about essential oils in henna.
  • It takes time for the color to come up!
    Remember, after the henna paste is removed, the henna is not at its full color. It will continue to cure in your skin releasing dye molecules for 24-72 hours after henna paste removal.

Progression of a Henna Stain

These pictures are of henna on me using ORa henna and the Beachcombers Favorite Henna Recipe. The henna was left on for 2 hours with no sealer or added heat. Leaving the henna on longer and adding a sealer/wrap can yield darker color.

Nothing special was done in between these pictures. This is the natural progression of a henna stain.

Believe me, if I can get this kind of color easily, so can you.

Download & Print "How to Get Extra Dark Color Henna Tattoos "