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Monday, December 20, 2010

"Baby, It's Cold Outside!" says your henna

Baby it's cold outside!

Henna can be picky about temperature and winter is a different set of challenges than summer.

In summer, we have to be careful that we don't "cook" our henna. We have to keep it out of sunlight and not let it get too warm. When mixing henna powder in the summer dye release is often much quicker (often a just a few hours will yield good dye release). This also means that the henna paste can lose it's dying abilities quickly, so you need to keep your henna cool.

Mixing Henna in the Cold
In the winter (even here in Florida) we have to be more patient with our henna. The same henna that would obtain full dye release in a few hours can take a full day or more in a cooler environment. I find that if my house is less than 70 degrees I need to let my Jamila henna powder mix sit 48 hours or more. I do this in stages. I mix my powder with my liquid (lemon, tea mix, or whatever I am using that day) and let it sit overnight. The next morning I add sugar, essential oils, and any additional liquid if needed. I let that sit again overnight and the next day I put the henna in applicators and cones for freezing. Sometimes I don't freeze the cones until the next day, giving the henna a full 3 days to sit.

Applying Henna in the Cold
I am always cold, so I have to work extra hard to get a good stain in the winter. I get all my supplies together along with a candle, blanket, and cup of hot tea or glass of wine. I do my henna while I am all wrapped up in my blanket and seal it with lemon sugar. When my hands (or feet) get cold, I hold them over the candle.

Here in the store, if it is too cold, I have clients sit beside a space heater to make sure they stay warm while we apply their henna.

Another great way to raise your body temperature for good henna color is to do a traditional henna wrap.  After your henna has set, seal it with lemon sugar.  Try doing 2 or 3 thin coats of sealer.  Once the sealer is completely dry, wrap the henna in bathroom paper.  This will absorb sweat.  Be sure to wrap a couple of layers.  Wrap your mummified henna in plastic wrap.  This will seal in your body heat.  I often follow up with a sock or other piece of clothing over the plastic wrap so the wrap doesn't stick to everything around it.

This winter, keep temperature in mind while mixing and applying your henna. Remember, body temperature is nearly 99 degrees. Even 70 degrees is a significant difference in temperature.

A fellow Floridain henna artist, Michael, gave me this tip to share...

"I have this thing called a "ThermiPaq"... basically it's a sand bag that you use for sore muscles and you can heat in the microwave or put in the freezer. I heated mine up for about 1.5 minutes and put that in the bottom of a cooler. I then covered it with a small towel and then laid my bottles of henna on top. This way, the henna was gently heated overnight even though the house was cold. I did that for 2 nights and the henna started turning a dark green/brownish color. I tried it after that and it works wonderfully."

Stay Warm!

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