Two of the women in class are regular henna customers of mine and allowed me to demonstrate an important fact about henna color. Two days before I gave both Stacy and Shanon henna tattoos. Stacy didn't put any lotion on that day so I hennaed her without cleaning the area first. I used witch hazel to clean Stacy's skin since she had lotion.
Stacy's henna was brilliantly dark and lovely. Shanon's was rather lack-luster. The exact same henna, the exact same day, and both designs done on the foot and ankle area.
I constantly tout that henna takes best on clean dry skin. A quick cleaning can't remove all lotion since lotion seeps into the skin cells, but it's better than nothing. Clean open cells allow a better bond with henna. Think of your skin cells as a glass. If part of the glass is filled with lotion (or water or anything else), not as much henna can fit in the glass.
For the best possible henna tattoo stain, you need clean dry skin!
Another thing brought up was how the henna tattoo stain on my hand was so dark. The full answer to that is here http://shophenna.com/new_henna_tips.htm, but though my henna was very dark, it wasn't going to be a long lasting stain. I only left my henna on for less than 2 hours, just long enough to do the design and finish a movie I was watching.
Though I still got nice dark color from my henna it started fading MUCH quicker than normal. By the 4th or 5th day the henna was starting to fade. Granted I was also in the process of installing drywall and mudding and sanding the drywall. This meant plenty of hand scrubbing through out the day. Typically I can expect at least a week of nice deep color from my henna.
Henna stain 7 days old after poor care and not leaving the paste on the skin very long.
The lesson from this? Take good care of your henna for a lasting stain. Leave it on for 4 hours or more and avoid any type of exfoliation.
Consider this your October henna reminder!