How to Do a Simple Henna Tattoo

Written by laurie meekis
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A henna tattoo is a traditional technique used to beautify the body. The nice thing about henna tattoos is that this is a temporary medium: The tattoo only lasts 2 or 3 weeks, so unlike a regular tattoo, if you decide you don’t want one after all, it will soon wear off. A henna tattoo is a good way to try a tattoo out before committing to a more permanent procedure. They are painless, and with a steady hand and patience, they are fairly easy to create.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Henna cone
  • Tissue or cotton swabs
  • Damp paper towel
  • Scissors
  • Paper clip

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  1. 1

    Get a small cone of henna from a local Indian store or online (see Resources below). You can create a henna tattoo yourself, but it may be easier to have a partner, with each drawing on the other person. Draw the tattoo in the same way you would use a tube of frosting to draw on a cake.

  2. 2

    Draw a design on the piece of paper if you are not comfortable drawing your henna tattoo completely freehand. That way you have a design to refer to as you draw with the henna.

  3. 3

    Snip the end of the skinny tip of the henna cone off. Only snip off a tiny opening. If you cut too far up the cone, the opening will be too big and you will not be able to draw a detailed and delicate design, because the henna will come out in a bead that is too thick to work with.

  4. 4

    Begin to draw the design by squeezing the cone of henna in your hand. You may want to try it on a piece of paper first to get used to the amount of pressure needed to get a steady flow going. Make the design as simple or as complicated as you like, but make sure it is spaced, otherwise when the henna is removed, all you will have is a brown blob. Keep in mind that the henna takes 8 to 24 hours to set, and will not be able to wash or touch in that time period. You also can’t put clothing over the henna until it is removed. Henna is a dye, and it will ruin clothing at this stage.

  5. 5

    Put a damp paper towel on the finished design to keep the henna moist (but not soaking wet) if you notice it is drying too quickly. As it dries, pieces may flake off if you move around too much. For instance, if the design runs over a finger joint, keep that finger as still as possible do not bend it. Leave the henna in place for 8 to 24 hours. The longer it is on, the better the tattoo will set in your skin and the longer it will last.

  6. 6

    Remove the henna after the allotted time or when you see most of it has flaked off. Then gently wash the area and remove any bits of henna still stuck to your skin. Try not to scrub the area too much when you bathe.

Tips and warnings

  • If you haven’t used the whole tube up, securely close up the cut end with a paper clip and use it again at a later date.

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