Henna Tattoos — Everything You Need to Know

Some people love tattoos but are afraid of pain and needles. Others aren’t certain whether they want to carry their tattoo forever. Henna Tattoos are a temporary way for people to enjoy beautiful body art without suffering pain or committing themselves to bear the chosen tattoos forever.

Henna artists use a special dye called Henna ink. Henna powder is created from the Henna plant (Henna leaves) and later mixed with lemon juice to form the so-called Henna paste, which is later used as a natural dye to achieve the intricate designs of these tattoos. 

The rising popularity of Henna Tattoos keeps growing. And there are some things you should know before getting one. 

Henna Tattoos — A Safe and Temporary Body Art

Henna Tattoos date back more than 5000 years and can last up to about two weeks after you stain the skin. Eastern, namely Indian cultures often use Henna Tattoos in weddings, namely decorating the bride on her wedding day with these special symbols and marks to stain the skin temporarily with patterns of luck or cultural signs that follow the Indian culture and ideals. 

Henna Tattoos are an ancient art form that continues today. The Henna designs that we can nowadays see, mainly stem from Indian culture, mythology, and sacred geometry. They continue to be used to enhance the bride’s beauty on her wedding night, in festivals, celebrations, and ceremonies. 

Of course, there are other techniques like the black Henna Tattoo which can be dangerous and irritate the skin. On the other hand, the Henna design can be applied for different purposes. 

How to get a Henna Tattoo?

Henna artists use sticks and brushes in order to properly apply the Henna Tattoo on your skin. But before that, the paste needs to be made from Henna powder and lemon juice or tea. Lemon is typically used to make the Henna Tattoo moist.

It takes around 20 minutes for the ink to dry. While the tattoo is drying, it needs to be covered. The usual period in which the skin stays wrapped is around 1 or 2 hours, but you can leave it dry overnight, which would further enhance the vibrance of the Henna Tattoo.

As soon as you remove the cover from the Henna Tattoo, it will start to slowly get darker and darker and acquire an orange-brown, or pale color, depending on the ink. Essential oils can increase the lifespan of a Henna Tattoo. Once the tattoo has dried up, using an essential oil on it to moisturize increases how long it would take for the tattoo to fade.

In an nutshell, here are our top 3 picks for the Henna Tattoo kits

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How long do Henna Tattoos last on average?

There are a few factors that determine how long your tattoo will live. If you properly protect your Henna Tattoo from chemicals and avoid water while bathing, the tattoo can last up to four weeks. Otherwise, the usual lifespan of a Henna Tattoo is two or two and a half weeks.

The most sensible instructions are as follow:

  • Avoid rubbing the tattoo.
  • Keep the tattoo surface area moisturized.
  • Avoid water and liquids being spilled on it (When you shower, make sure you covered it).
  • Don’t use chemicals like soap, saltwater, chlorine, or even hand sanitizer on the tattoo.

The Shapes of the Henna Tattoo

Geometric Shapes

Geometric shape of Henna Tattoo

The geometric shapes that are used, lately gained popularity worldwide, mainly in tourist areas. Henna usually comes with an intricate design, formed by sacred geometry and culture. Circles, triangles, pendulums, and stars represent the Hindu deities and other elements of Indian religion. 

Geometric shapes like triangles are a way to show devotion to Shiva and Shakti and express it in the form of Henna ink. Diamond shapes are the ones that many artists prefer. They are found in many Henna designs and usually mean the path toward enlightenment. 

Celestial Objects

Celestial Shape of Henna Tattoos

Celestial objects, like the sun, the stars, or the moon represents love towards family members, a lover, or a dear friend, and are a very recurring theme in Henna. A good Henna artist would usually implement these in the form of bridal mehndi, which is the form of staining the hands and feet for a wedding ceremony.

Lotus and Flowers

Lotus and Flowers Shapes Henna Tattoos

Lotus and flowers in Henna Tattoos usually mean fertility, beauty, and connectedness in the Universe. It can often be seen in white Henna Tattoos. The thousand petal lotus is also something that you can commonly witness due to Indian cultural appropriation. Many brides also include that in their bridal mehndi.

Eyes

Eyes Shapes Henna Tattoos

The eyes in Henna Tattoos are a symbol that means protection and scare away evil wishes or maleficent thoughts. The Om symbol is a very famous spiritual mantra that signifies universal energies. It can be seen in various locations on the body. Mostly, these are the back or arms of the tattooed person. 

Vines

Vines Shape Henna Tattoos

Vines represent longevity and fruitful life. They can most commonly be seen on the arms, hands, and fingers of women. Butterflies or dragonflies represent the idea of rebirth, transformation, or rekindling the spirit. They are often used for bridal ceremonies if the bride is already pregnant. 

What is a White Henna Tattoo?

White Henna Tattoo Designs

The White Henna Tattoo is safe, as it does not contain any chemicals that irritate your skin. Instead, skin-safe paint is used for the process. It doesn’t really contain any Henna paste or a part of the Henna plant. The name remains the same because the patterns used for the tattoo are very similar. The paste used for the white Henna Tattoo is made from a mixture of body paint and surgical-grade adhesive, combined with a liquid.

How are Black Henna Tattoos made?

Black Henna Tattoos are made from the same Henna plant, however, mixed with coal tar, which adds the artificial very dark coloring to the Henna Tattoo. This type of artificial colorant is usually used in hair dye but should be avoided in Henna kits. Yes, it gives a great black look, but the possibility of allergic reactions isn’t worth it in the end. The same PPD substance is completely banned from cosmetic products in the US. Moreover, contact with PPD can increase the chances of a client getting contact dermatitis (a type of eczema).

How much do Henna Tattoos cost?

Compared to permanent ink tattoos, Henna Tattoos are relatively cheap. Of course, they can cost you all the way from $20 to $1500, depending on the size, occasion, and difficulty of the requested pattern. An experienced artist might also want to charge more than a novice. Indian bridal Henna Tattoos, known as mehndi can also be more expensive, as they can cover more parts of the body, not only the hands and arms, and are more complicated to make. 

On the other hand, smaller symbols or geometrical shapes can cost you only $20 and would still look as beautiful, even sometimes more beautiful than permanent tattoos. The price for white Henna designs is slightly more expensive, but would still cost roughly the same, depending on the size and design. The place of your body that you want to get tattooed also might change the price. Hands and feet usually cost the same, while the back of your body can be more expensive. Although hand tattoos can be the most difficult to make, the artists in South Asia have specialized in that. It is an ancient art that is finally getting the worldwide recognition it deserves. 

Which are the most common body places for a Henna Tattoo?

Unarguably, usually the most common place to spot a Henna Tattoo is on the hands or arms of a woman. The tradition of wedding mehndi in India continues for centuries ago. And nowadays, a good artist would recommend similar figures to tourists, regardless of them being brides, or not.

The Wrist

The wrist is often interpreted as an intimate place, thus symbols are usually placed there. Symbols like celestial objects, the sun, flowers, or sometimes animals. 

Covered areas

Covered areas like the back, the back of the neck, and sometimes thighs are also a place where a Henna Tattoo can be drawn. These are more intimate and would hold a greater meaning to the bearer.

Fingers

When the fingers are stained with Henna Tattoo ink, they can look strikingly beautiful. 

Arms

The entire arm is often used to form a sleeve tattoo with Henna elements. Many people do a Henna sleeve to test out the look of the sleeve before committing to a permanent tattoo of the same size. 

Conclusion

Henna Tattoos have been around for centuries. They have been used in celebrations, weddings, and in everyday life. With them spreading across the world in touristic areas, even outside of India, you need to do your research before actually getting one done. The main reason for that is that Black Henna Tattoos can be dangerous to the skin. Aside from them, everything else is safe. Before you get your first Henna, make sure to check what the symbols mean. Happy tattooing! 

FAQs

Where can you find the Henna Plant?

The Henna plant, also known as Lawsonia inermis, can be found in Asia, northern Australia, and North Africa. It is also called the Egyptian privet, and its leaves have a reddish-brown dye. The paste is usually made from the tree’s leaves. So, make sure you get a lot of them if you want to make the paste yourself. While grinding the leaves, you want to use a smooth and flat rock to continuously add the juice of lemon or tea drops to moisturize the paste.


Are Henna Tattoos used only in India?

Archeologists have found that Henna Tattoos were also used in Ancient Egypt, and the Middle East, from where the word traditionally originates. Khanna in Arabic was the initial word, that later on transitioned into south Asia and became Henna. Usually, in India, the word mehndi is used more often, which comes from the Sanskrit language. 

Ancient Egyptians used Henna not only in the form of a tattoo but also to dye their nails. It is believed that later on, the Henna transitioned from a dye for nails to become the art of tattoos which it is today. Around 1400 B.C. the queen of Sheba decorated her hands when she greeted King Solomon.


Can you cover a scar with a Henna Tattoo?

Henna’s natural color doesn’t stain the skin like a permanent tattoo would and is more of a surface-level paint. That means it is safe to use over scars. On the other hand, it might be a bit inconsistent, having in mind the scar’s different pigmented skin. Sometimes, Henna Tattoos over scars last shorter than over the normal skin. What is a great advantage, however, is that Henna Tattoos are completely painless and even if your scar is somewhat fresh, and has recently healed, you won’t feel anything unpleasant like you would if you were putting on a permanent tattoo.


How to differentiate Real Henna from Black Henna?

Real Henna Tattoos from the Henna plant are free of chemicals and have a distinct orange color. They are never black. If you are into Indian art and are seeking traditional Henna, and you are offered the black alternative, be wary and know that it might cause harm to your skin. A traditional Henna artist would most commonly use the natural Henna paste with an orange-brown tint. These safe pastes don’t contain other ingredients that might contaminate dead skin or cause cell irritation. 


Is a Black Henna Tattoo safe?

Despite its beauty and intense color, the Black Henna Tattoo causes skin irritation in many women and men alike. On a general note, steer clear of Black Henna Tattoos. According to the UK’s FDA, this type of body art can cause an allergic reaction mainly due to a chemical the black Henna contains, namely paraphenylenediamine (PPD). Typically this chemical is used in hair dyes all across Europe, however, it might have an adverse reaction on the skin when used in the form of temporary tattoos. 

Robert Green

Robert Green, the brain and brawn behind TattooLous is a tattoo enthusiast and a raging bullbat. After getting 20 tattoos made and even working as a professional tattoo artist for almost 5 years at a stretch, Robert chose to contribute towards the tattooing community in a different yet rewarding manner. Robert believes that the tattoo-making industry is rife with possibilities and, therefore, strives towards educating budding tattoo artists about the choice of kits, machines, aftercare products, and more. Moreover, each of Robert’s drafts is even relevant to the professional tattoo experts who are seeking additional insights into exclusive products and accessories.

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