Mehndi is a traditional form of skin decoration for women in India and Nepal. It is now common across much of the Asian world and in expat communities of Asian people around the world. Mehndi is often applied for wedding ceremonies. It is a temporary form of tattoo made by painting the skin with henna, a plant-based dye. Normally, henna takes 12 hours to darken, but there are steps an individual can take to deepen the tone in a shorter period of time.
Take a bath or shower immediately before applying the henna. Avoid using any oils or lotions. This will prevent the henna adhering to the oil rather than the skin. Clean skin allows for the best and most accurate application of the henna.
Apply a lemon juice solution over the just-applied henna. The lemon juice acts as a seal to protect the design while it dries and stains the skin. The acid in the lemon also oxidises the staining compounds in the henna, helping to make it darker. Mix equal parts fresh lemon juice and water and lightly dab over of the mehndi with a cotton ball use spritz the area with a spray bottle.
Wrap the mehndi in gauze and then cling film. This promotes heat and generates humidity, which help to darken the henna.
Stay in a warm place while the mehndi dries. Sit in the sunshine outside, by a heater or in a warm kitchen.
Avoid washing the lemon solution off with water. Use a butter knife or similar blunt blade to scrape off the henna.
Apply eucalyptus oil to the dried mehndi, after you have scraped off the excess with a butter knife. Eucalyptus oil warms the skin, and a higher body temperature helps to darken the henna.
Rub the mehndi with coconut oil or cocoa butter to help it darken. Such oils will also help to preserve the darkness of your mehndi for longer.
If making your own henna, mix a few tea leaves into the paste to get a darker colour.
Do not wash the mehndi for 24 hours after it has dried. Avoid using soaps, as they can affect the staining process.