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Henna Troubleshooting Guide

Deep rich red henna stain on the palm by Jody Beachcombers in Orlando.Get help with henna problems here.

Henna is pretty easy, but as with anything new, there is a learning curve. Most of the time any trouble you have with henna is a pretty easy fix, but it may take some time to learn. Below are the most common issues for new henna artists.



I am not getting a good henna stain.

  • This is generally because the skin was not clean when the henna was applied.
    Lotions, sweat, hair products, and anything else on the skin will be a barrier between the skin cells and henna causing a lighter henna stain. Make sure the skin is completely clean before applying henna. Wash the area with soap and water or clean with rubbing alcohol/witch hazel can help. Keep in mind self tanner will effect your henna stain. Make note, body butters, sunscreens, and other really deep moisturizers can take a couple days to clear the skin cells.
  • The moist henna was not left in the skin long enough.
    To get really good color, henna should be left on for at least four hours. the longer the henna paste is left on the skin, the more layers of skin cells are stained. You want as may layers of cells stains as possible for darker long lasting color.
  • Dark Henna Color LifeThe henna stain has not completely oxidized yet.
    When you first remove the henna paste, the stain starts off light orange. It takes a couple of days for the stain to come up to full color. Don't judge the stain color until 48 hours after paste removal.
  • The henna was removed from the skin with water.
    Do not use water to remove the henna from the skin, and avoid water for as long as possible once you have removed the henna paste. Water will stunt the oxidation process and cause a lighter stain. Using soap will make this even worse. Paste should be gently scrapped off the skin. Any stubborn bits can be removed by soaking the paste in olive oil, and the paste can then be rolled off the skin. If you remove your henna paste and immediately wash dishes, your stain will not oxidize properly.
  • Your body was not warm enough while the henna was on the skin.
    When you are warm, your skin cells expand because they are trying to release heat. When you are cold, they contract because 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.
  • The henna paste has not released dye yet.
    If you mix henna and use it right away, you will NOT get color. Dye release can take some time, especially if it's cold. Though it's possible to over-release or over-cook your henna, it's more likely that the henna paste was not left long enough to release all it's dye. This is assuming you mixed your henna with lemon juice. If you mixed it with water it releases dye much quicker and dye demise also happens much quicker.
  • The henna paste was not stored properly and the dye has demised.
    If henna is not being actively used, it should be frozen. While at room temperature, henna paste continues to release dye. At some point all the dye will be released and the henna will leave very light stain for no stain at all. The warmer it is, the quicker the henna dye will demise.
  • You are hennaing a part of the body that does not stain well.
    Palms of the hands and soles of the feet take henna best and the further away from these areas you go, the lighter your stain. You will never get that super dark stain that the palms are capable of producing on the upper arm or the back. Chest, neck, face, and torsos all can stain poorly. Play around with hennaing different parts of the body to you learn what to expect. You will also find that different parts of the body exfoliate at different rates giving you a shorter or longer lasting stain.
  • You used premixed henna instead of mixing the henna yourself.
    We offer a natural safe henna paste, but it will not give you the really dark stains that you can get by mixing fresh henna yourself. If you are charging people for henna or getting a really dark henna stain, you should mix your own henna from our fresh henna powder and our quality essential oils.
  • Mixing your own henna, but looking for a darker stain?
    Upgrade your henna to oil ratio. Our basic kits come with the minimum amount of oil needed to get good color (10 mL of oil per 100 grams of henna). Upgrade to 30 mL of oil per 100 grams of henna). Our henna combo kits and henna refill kits automatically come with 30 mL of oil per 100 grams of henna.
  • Your body chemistry or hormones can cause light stains.
    Medications, diets, and hormones can all effect how henna will stain your skin. I've seen evidence of isotretinoin and chemo drugs both effect stain color, but this depends on the individual. Hormone changes either by nature or supplements can affect your stain.

Henna paste is cracking and falling off easily.

If the henna fakes off too quickly, you will not get a good long lasting stain. There are a few ways to combat this problem.

  • Add sugar to your henna mix.
    Sugar makes the henna stay wet against the skin longer, stick to the skin better, and makes the henna more flexible thus helping you achieve a darker stain. It also helps give your henna a great consistency. You may find you like more or less sugar with different brands of henna. The more humid your climate, the less sugar you need. Keep in mind, sugar becomes a liquid when mixed into your henna. It will NOT thicken your paste and will thin it substantially.
  • Use a sealer to keep the henna moist and in contact with the skin longer.
    Apply the sealer when the henna is just-dry and before it starts cracking and falling off. Learn about sealers on our How-To page.
  • Steam your henna!
    Be careful with this, but steaming your henna can lead to amazing results because you are both keeping the henna moist AND adding heat. Be sure to keep the henna just-moist and not sopping wet.

My henna stain is fading quickly.

Generally, you can expect good color for 5-10 days, and your stain will be completely gone in 1-3 weeks.

  • This is generally because the skin was not clean when the henna was applied.
    Lotions, sweat, hair products, and anything else on the skin will be a barrier between the skin cells and henna causing a lighter henna stain. Make sure the skin is completely clean before applying henna. Wash the area with soap and water or clean with rubbing alcohol/witch hazel can help. Keep in mind self tanner will effect your henna stain. Make note, body butters, sunscreens, and other really deep moisturizers can take a couple days to clear the skin cells.
  • The moist henna was not left in the skin long enough.
    To get really good color, henna should be left on for at least four hours. the longer the henna paste is left on the skin, the more layers of skin cells are stained. You want as may layers of cells stains as possible for darker long lasting color.
  • The henna design is coming in contact with water or chemicals too often.
    Chlorinated water (pools, spas) will fade henna very quickly (this includes tap water which often has high levels of chlorine). Apply a light layer of olive oil over your henna design before coming into contact with water and if you swim, put spray bandage sealer over your henna first.
  • You may be using an exfoliating soap and/or lotion.
    Most facial soaps are highly exfoliating and many smoothing lotions are as well. Sometimes even your hair products can cause issues with henna.
  • The skin is dry.
    Dry skin helps henna to take and get a nice deep dark stain, but it also fades the henna quicker as dry skin sheds it's cells faster than moist skin. Apply olive oil or non-exfoliating lotion over your henna design daily. The skin typically exfoliates completely every 20-30 days. Your skin may exfoliate quicker than most.

I am having trouble mixing my henna paste to the correct consistency.

Does your henna always seem to be too thick or too thin? It takes some practice to get the consistency you personally like for henna, so don't be afraid to experiment and make a few mistakes.

If you are still asking this question, do not mix large batches of henna. Mix small batches of henna so you can try different consistencies out to find out what is best for you.

The goal is a consistency somewhere between pancake batter and thick yogurt or even brownie batter. The henna should smoothly ribbon off your spatula or spoon and create peaks that slowly "melt" down but not all the way to flat.

Thinning or thickening your henna should be done AFTER all your ingredients are added to your henna. Any essential oils and sugar should already be added to the henna, and any tweaking of the henna should be done right before you strain or use the henna.

If you need to thin your henna, thin it with lemon juice or water. Do not use essential oils or sugar to thin your henna.

If you need to thicken your henna, add more henna powder. Do not add any other solid ingredient to thicken your henna (flour or corn starch will NOT work). Do not add sugar to thicken your henna, as sugar melts in the henna becoming a liquid. Sugar will thin your henna paste.