Wednesday, April 08, 2015

White Henna Tattoo - Is not Henna Tattoo - It is Gilding.

I had a phone call today from someone asking me if I did "white" henna tattoo. I appreciate that many people do not understand what henna tattoo is, and so they can be misled.

Henna tattoo is made from the crushed leaves of the henna plant - you can refer to the Wikipedia notes on henna for a deeper understanding. True henna tattoo will always be a shade of reddish brown, red, brown, perhaps a pale orange if the powder is very old.
By definition, you cannot have "white henna." However you can have "gilding." Gilding is a process that uses a henna cone, usually a hair gel of some kind, and a glitter powder. The gilding can be any number of colors - white, blue, green, basically any color of body glitter can be used to make the paste. Again, here is a link to buy the ingredients you need to make a white tattoo.

The gel paste may be applied using a cone - which is a similar method to henna tattoo - however it is not henna tattoo, it is white gilding and will last as long as you do not wash the gilding off. Perhaps people are using a fixative to keep that gilding on a bit longer, or mixing some new ingredient into the paste to make it last longer.

It is traditional to gild a finished henna tattoo so that the bride can have her authentic henna tattoo embellished to match her outfits. There are photos of gilded henna  in a variety of colors, including white on my website. Just click the link above to see examples.

As a gilded design is a short lived design in general, and as there has not been much demand for gilding, I no longer offer it on a regular basis. If you would like white guiding, in a traditional henna pattern, I am happy to oblige.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fresh henna paste is ready - an introduction to the process of making a good paste.

Henna paste that gives the deepest, longest lasting color, takes me 48 hours to prepare. It is possible to get a good paste in 24 hours, but the best paste, in my humble opinion, is given time and temperature for the henna leaves to release their dye.

On Wednesday morning I began the process by melting two "cubes" of prepared henna tea (I learned to mix a tea over 10 years ago, and have been adjusting it ever since,) adding some lemon juice, and after letting that cool, I added three henna powders to the liquid.

It is important for me to select a good texture for the paste on the first day. I find it better to make a bit thicker paste on the first day, that way I can adjust it with essential oils and other liquids to make it the consistency that I prefer to work with on day two.

After mixing the tea, lemon, powder and a touch of cajeput oil on day one, I put this in a stainless steel bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, but that wrap in a plastic bag, and put that on the porch to cure in the sun.

The warm summer sun on the porch helps the henna to release the dye. On the morning of the second day, I check to see if the dye has been released. This can be determined by just looking at the paste in the bowl. The past will be darker and you may see a reddish liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

On the second day I add a combination of essential oils ( called "terping") to help the paste continue to release the darkest dye, as well, to make the paste into a workable texture. I have learned over the years that a more liquid paste is easier to apply, stays wet on the skin longer, and gives a darker color.

I now use about 8 oils in the blend, although not all the oils each time. Sometimes I mix the batch with fewer. Oils that I have use are:

  • clove
  • cajeput
  • basil
  • neroli
  • naioli
  • cardamom
  • tea tree
  • geranium
  • lavender
You can visit other sites to see lists of other oils. I am satisfied with the nice reds I am able to get on the back of the hand using this method. 

If you have a look at the video below, you will see a nice, fluid paste that goes on well. I like to use this viscosity myself. I hope you find this post helpful. 

You may see colors of the results of this recipe on my FaceBook page.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Henna Paste - Yes, there are secrets to great color!

This is a fine example (un-retouched) of a good henna stain. As is always true, the best color is achieved on the palms of the hands.

The palm is the most porous and fleshy part of the tattooable body. However, the kind of color that you see in this photo occurs when the finest quality paste is used.

Recently, shoppers buying boxes of henna at Midnight Sun have asked about the process.  They wonder what to do with this box of powder.

To be helpful, I have published a basic henna paste recipe on my site. It is not the recipe I am using this year, as I have perfected the basics to get a paste that I like very much. It is easy to apply, takes to the skin very well, and gives a good read color even on the back of the hands.

Important things to know about making a great paste are:

  • It takes two days preparation to get the very best paste. The first day you mix the henna with lemon juice. I use lemon juice and a special tea composed of spices, herbs, flowers and other ingredients to help the henna stay to the skin and of course to give the darkest color possible. The second day you add the essential oils. 
  • You get the best henna paste in the spring or summer time. Why? Because you can put the henna in the sun. Henna is a heat activated dye. Heat is required to get the powder to release the day. (As well, heat helps the paste cure in the skin.)  I put my paste in a metal bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, put that in a sealed bag, and set it on the porch. The bowl is covered to prevent the paste from drying out. 
  • It is important to make the paste thin enough so that it is easy to work with. A more liquid paste handles well, and it penetrates the skin better. 
  • I use a plastic cone to apply the henna. The squeeze bottle becomes difficult to work with overtime. You may cut off the tip of the cone to create the smallest opening that is possible for a good henna flow. If a line is too thin, you can go back over it. If a line is too think, there is not much to do about that as a good paste will begin to stain instantly.
  • It is wise to invest in a good collection of essential oils. I have at least 6 that I use on any given paste. They include: cajeput, lavender, geranium, basil, cardamom, clove, neroli, tea tree, and... one or two more. You can visit different site to see what kinds of oils other artists use.
  • I prefer henna powder from Henna Sooq at this time. I have used others, and there are many fine providers, but I am having excellent results with a combination of three powders from that company. 

In short, I have been working to make the a good henna paste for over 10 years. I have learned a good deal in the process. I encourage you to enjoy the journey. I do not recommend using premixed henna cones from a local store. If you want to buy henna cones already made to use, then visit a site that sells you fresh/frozen henna and ships it via Priority Mail. 

Hoping you found this post helpful. 


Monday, June 09, 2014

Fine line bridal quality henna paste on & off! See the finished color.

It is always a pleasure to provide the special service of fine line henna tattoo. Usually a client will find something in one of the intricate pattern books on hand. I have a good collection of traditional henna tattoo patterns from India, and often something there will spark the beginnings of a pattern.

In general, the purpose of henna tattoo is to make the woman's had appear even more lovely, and so pattern book designs are adjusted to fit. Here are photos of fine line henna with the paste on and then off the skin.

For this recipe I used three kinds of henna powder from Henna Sooq, home made tea with lots of herbs, spices and flowers as well as a good mix of essential oils to help the henna release the best color. If you watch this blog, you will see that the finished color on many photos is really quite red. I hope to provide this quality of color for the rest of the season. 

Prices are by the design if you are ordering one hand only and by the hours for traditional bridal henna. Namaste.