Back to dark color henna! There are so many factors that contribute to the color you ultimately get from your henna, we're going to address most of them.
The Henna Product Itself
Mixing your own henna from powder is capable of giving you the the darkest longest lasting color. I suggest Jamila professional body art quality henna and the Beachcombers Favorite recipe. Here is a rundown of the recipe I personally use...
- Mix Jamila henna powder and lemon juice in a glass bowl. I use lemon juice from the bottle, not fresh lemons. I find I get more consistent results that way and I don't have to worry about clogging. I don't mix exact amounts of henna powder and lemon juice, instead I go for a specific consistency. I add lemon juice until the paste resembles thick mashed potatoes. If you need a general reference for how much lemon juice to add start with approximately equal amounts of each. Reserve a tiny bit of powder in case you need it later to thicken your mix.
The acid in the lemon juice helps release the dye in the henna (lawsone).
- I place plastic wrap over the henna paste and press it down so it is actually touch the paste. I place the bowl in a warm (but not too warm) dry place overnight.
- The next morning, I can see that I've had some dye release. If you are looking at the side of the glass bowl you will see a darker brown ring around the top of the henna. If you take a spoon and scrape a layer of the top henna off you will see a nice brown top layer with fresh green henna paste below.
I add regular white table sugar to the henna and mix it in. I use about 1 part sugar to about 4 parts henna. You will find the sugar melts in the henna as you mix it in smoothing out your henna and adding "liquid".
The sugar makes the henna stay wet against the skin longer and stick to the skin better, thus helping you achieve a darker stain.
- I add equal amounts of lavender oil and tea tree oil. Everyone uses a different amount of oil. I use about 25-35 drops of each oil for one box (100 grams) of Jamila henna powder.
Both lavender and tea tree oils have monoterpene alcohols which will help release more of the lawsone dye in your henna resulting in a darker stain. You can get a great combo pack of Jamila henna powder, lavender oil, and tea tree oil here.
- I put the same plastic wrap over the henna and let it sit until either later that day or even the next day. I mix it up again and my henna is ready to use!
- This is a good point for your to strain your henna if you like.
- Put your henna in individual sized cones and then freeze them. Anytime you need fresh henna, you are an hour of thawing away from fresh individual sized cones away!
The Skin Itself
Henna takes best to clean dry skin. Lotions, sunblock or even water will be a barrier between the henna and the skin. The more base (opposite of acidic) your skin is the darker your henna stain.
How Long You Leave the Moist Henna in Contact with the Skin
The longer you leave the wet henna paste in contact with the skin, the darker and longer lasting the color. Ideally I like to see people shoot for 4-6 hours. Overnight is even better!
Use a sealer such as a lemon sugar sealer. This will help you develop a nice crust on top of the henna while keeping the underside (that's in contact with your skin) of the henna moist.
How Warm You are With the Paste on the Skin
The warmer your skin the darker your henna stain. I have low blood pressure and I'm always cold. It's much harder for me to get good henna color than it is for most people. Don't crank your air conditioning, and try to keep your body temperature up. Sit in the sun, have a glass of wine or hot tea, wrap up in a blanket if you are like me, lol!
The best thing you can do to keep the henna area warm is to seal and wrap your henna design. Dab on a lemon sugar solution to the henna as soon as it's dry enough to touch. Wrap the design in plenty of toilet paper to absorb sweat and then wrap Saran Wrap around the toilet paper. This can yield crazy-good color!
How You Remove the Henna PasteDon't use water to remove the henna from your skin. Either gently scrape it off with your fingers or a spatula or use a little olive oil or mehndi oil to remove the henna paste. I suggest avoiding water on the henna for the rest of the day if possible.
How Well You Care For the Henna Tattoo
Henna is a permanent stain. It doesn't fade away, your skin cells exfoliate off. Anything you do to avoid exfoliating the skin where your henna is will help your henna last longer. Avoid water, cleaners, and anything else that may exfoliate the skin as much as possible (within good hygiene limits).
For a ton of other useful henna info and hundreds of pictures see our henna help site...
BTW, remember your henna will start off light, but will come up to full color over a couple of days. Be patient!
Hope this helps!