Henna is used as a decorative art to adorn feet and hands. It is also used to colour hair and nails. Henna comes from the dried leaves of the henna plant. The dried leaves are ground to powder and mixed with eucalyptus oil, tea, coffee and lime (or some combination of these) to produce a paste that is applied to hands, feet, nails and hair. The art of painting designs on hands and feet is called mehndi (sometimes spelt as mendhi). There are several things you can do to enhance the rich colour of henna.
Choose an already mixed paste, or mix your own henna from powdered sachets to colour your hair. When mixing your own henna, you need to add water and pectin according to the manufacturer's instructions. Lighter shades of hair will gain red highlights, while darker shades will have an auburn shine. Always select the freshest henna for the best results.
Add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to enhance a rich gold or copper colour and combat oily hair. Mix 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with the henna paste you'll use to colour your hair.
Add 1 tbsp cognac and 1 tbsp olive oil to your henna paste if you wish to create a deep red hair colour. To add golden highlights, substitute a Ceylon or Black China tea that has steeped for 20 to 30 minutes for the liquid in your powdered-henna paste.
Ensure that the skin is clean and moist prior to applying henna tattoos. Sunblock, lotions and sweat may prevent the henna from setting correctly.
Increase body temperature to darken henna markings. Take a hot bath before doing your henna, or exercise after the henna has been applied.
Enhance the colour of henna tattoos and staining by keeping the henna paste wet. It is best to buy an already mixed henna paste in a cone. If the mixture doesn't contain eucalyptus oil, apply some to your hands prior to the henna application. This will keep it wet for longer. Keep applied henna moist by dabbing gently with lemon juice and cotton swabs. This will prevent it from drying out and falling off.
Avoid using metal utensils or metal bowls when mixing henna. The metal may react negatively with the chemicals in the henna.