Henna is a plant. The leaf is used to make medicine. Don’t confuse henna with henna root (Alkanna tinctoria), also referred to as alkanna root.
Historically, henna has been used for severe diarrhea caused by a parasite (amoebic dysentery), cancer, enlarged spleen, headache, jaundice, and skin conditions. These days, people take henna for stomach and intestinal ulcers. Henna is sometimes applied directly to the affected area for dandruff, eczema, scabies, fungal infections, and wounds. In manufacturing, henna is used in cosmetics, hair dyes, and hair care products; and as a dye for nails, hands, and clothing. People also use henna on the skin as temporary “tattoos.”
How to Mix Henna Powder
When making henna paste, 100 g of henna powder will easily yield 75-200 henna tattoos depending on the size of the designs. Lemon juice is a great acidic liquid that allows dye molecules to be released from the henna in a slow controlled fashion leading to a stable henna paste that doesn’t demise too quickly. Water or tea will release dye much quicker, potentially leading to a less stable paste.
Adding sugar is optional. Sugar makes the henna stay wet against the skin longer, stick to the skin better, and makes the henna more flexible, helping to achieve a darker stain. This can eliminate the need for a sealer. It also helps give a great consistency.
Lavender & Tea Tree Essential Oils
Both lavender and tea tree oils have monoterpene alcohols which will help release more of the Lawson dye in henna resulting in a darker stain. Adding these oils also adds a lovely scent to the henna and helps preserve the henna paste.
Essential oils are very potent and strong. Use the minimum amount of oil to create a good mix.
Single Step Henna Recipe
100 g quality henna powder
Lemon Juice (1 1/4 -1 1/2 cups or so)
Sugar (none or up to 2 Tablespoons - more in dry climates)
Equal Parts Lavender & Tea Tree Oils (1/3-1oz)
Put henna and sugar into a bowl and mix lemon juice and essential oils into the powder/sugar until a thick mashed potato consistency. Use a glass mixing bowl as it cleans up easily and doesn’t stain or retain scent.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down on top of the henna until it touches.
Set aside to await dye release. Dye release time vary according to the type of henna used and the temperature. The warmer it is, the quicker the dye release. Colder temperatures require longer time.
General Henna: generally 4-24 hours
Check for dye release every 4-6 hours. Place a dot of henna on the heel of the hand and wait 5 minutes then wipe it away. If there is a nice orange stain, dye release is achieved. Once dye release has been verified, add more lemon juice to reach the consistency preferred. Ideally, the henna should ribbon off your spoon forming peaks that very slowly melt or slump. Once your consistency is perfect, strain the henna (optional). Put the henna in individual cones and freeze until they are ready to use.