Henna tattoo

What is a Henna Tattoo? Complete Guide to all your Curiosities

Are henna tattoos safe?

Henna: Its History and Cultural Significance

The art of Henna—called mehndi in Hindi and Urdu—has been practiced in Pakistan, India, Africa, and the Middle East for over 5000 years. It was originally used for its natural cooling properties for the people living in hot desert climates. A paste would be made, in which the palms of hands and soles of feet would be soaked. It was also used for medicinal purposes and applied to the skin to treat such ailments as stomach aches, burns, headaches, and open wounds.

When it was discovered the paste left a temporary stain on the skin—the plant contains lawsone, a reddish-orange dye that binds to the keratin present in skin—Henna’s use progressed to decorative, as it was accessible to people of all socioeconomic levels.

Today, Henna is mainly used in celebration of special occasions such as weddings and birthdays in the joyous gathering of people. The Henna paste symbolizes good health and prosperity in marriage, and in some cultures, the darker the henna stain, the deeper the love between two individuals.

Henna designs are not tattoos—a tattoo is permanent as ink pierces the skin, while henna is a temporary dye which sits on the skin’s surface. Henna is also used to safely dye hair, nails, and fabrics like silk, wool, and leather.

What is a Henna Tattoo? Complete Guide to all your Curiosities

What is a Henna Tattoo? Complete Guide to all your Curiosities

Henna Tattoos are having a major beauty moment in the world. Many people are following it and having different patterns on their bodies. But is it safe to use henna if it’s not part of your culture? First of all, when it comes to art, there are no boundaries. So, henna in general can be used anywhere. In fact, it’s already been popular in the European and Eastern civilization. For those of you that don’t know about this ancient tattooing, or want to know some interesting facts about them – This post is designed for you. Here we’ve break down your most basic question regarding henna tattoos and how you safely get one.

What is Henna?

henna plant

We will start from the basic definition of henna itself. Henna is a dye prepared from the plant called Lawsonia Inermis. The term henna is Arabic but its predominant in Indian culture, also known as Mehndi. It is a crucial part of many religious activities including engagements, weddings, Diwali, and more.

Uses of Henna

  • Among youth, Henna Tattoos are very popular
  • Leading companies use henna because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties in many cosmetic products
  • Used for henna hair dye, conditioner, and nourisher
  • Apply for body art
  • It can be used for Henna Freckles as well

Henna also has some medicinal uses, but we’re not here to cover those.

What is a Henna Tattoo?

henna tattoo

To make some sort of a tattoo, the key ingredient is the Ink. In our case, henna is the main ingredient. Derived from the henna plant, the powder is mixed with other ingredients such as water or tea to make a paste-like mixture.

Like an ink tattoo, henna can be applied on almost any part of your body. However, there are certain places that hold significance over others.

For instance, henna tattoos are placed on the palms of your hands, all the way to the shoulders. The design of the henna tattoo also differs, depending on which part of the world you’re using it.

Mehndi, in particular, is popular in the Asian sub-continent. Don’t spook yourself here, it’s the same name as the henna paste. However, mehndi can be often found in the cone type shape – which is relatively easier to make a henna tattoo design.

How long does henna tattoo last?

how long do henna tattoo last

For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, henna tattoos are not permanent. They can last anywhere from 7-14 days. However, longevity depends on a number of different factors.

Like how consistent you’ve made the henna paste, how long you’ve used the design on your hands before you wash it off, etc. Some henna tattoo experts also use essential oils to make the tattoo look darker and longer.

You can also play your role here to regain a fresh look. All you have to do is moisturize the area where you want the tattoo, making sure it’s completely clean. Furthermore, you can remove dead skin cells from any of the exfoliation methods. It is useful to get a vibrant look.

Below are some care instructions that you should follow as well.

  • Let it sit on your body: Once you apply the henna tattoo application, make sure that it sits on your body for at least 30 minutes. The longer you will wait, the better you will get the results.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Don’t use henna cones that are mixed with chemicals. They are mainly used to increase the tattoo lifespan, which can ultimately damage your skin.
  • Avoid Water: If possible, avoid doing dishes, bathing, or washing, especially if you’re using a henna tattoo on your hands.
  • Keep it moisturized: Keep your hand moisturized before and after the application.

How to make a henna tattoo?

First, you have to prepare the henna for tattoos. This involves mixing the powder with any solvent like water or lemon juice in a bowl to make a thick paste. Now, all you have to do is fill this paste inside a cone and cut a very small opening at the tip. Behold, your henna pen is ready!

Using the henna cone is just like drawing with an ink pen or a tattoo machine.

  • Hold the cone in your right hand
  • Face the cone tip towards the target skin area
  • Remove the stopper from the end and press the cone from behind
  • Now you can move the henna pen to draw designs you like

How to learn Henna Tattooing?

Henna tattoo

Practice, practice, and practice all the way! Anyone can learn to make unique and intricate henna tattoo styles by simply practicing. You can also watch how-to videos, read magazines, or ask experts to speed up your learning.

Once you have the knowledge, all you need is a “helping hand.” Grab your friends and try different patterns on their hands, starting from the easiest ones. It would be even better if you could make your own henna cones.

How to Remove a Henna Tattoo?

Henna tattoos usually last more than a week. If for any reason, you want to remove it within days, you can always use some home remedies such as:

  • Applying lemon or lime juice
  • Soaking in salt water
  • Exfoliate using natural ingredients
  • Or using essential oils/carrier oils

Keep in mind that all these techniques only speed up the fading process. So, don’t expect the pattern to go away instantly using any method.

Common Henna Placements

Females love to adorn every part of their skin with henna. Commonly, it is drawn on hands, feet, and arms. Keep in mind that these are just “common” placements. It doesn’t mean the tattoos can’t go anywhere else.

Like other tattoos, henna can go where the skin is. You can apply them on your wrists, legs, neck, or even back. The only difference it has from the conventional tattoo is that you have to wait till the paste dries to wear clothes or work.

Are Henna Tattoos Symbolic?

It may sound bewitching, but henna tattoos do have meanings. As it is traditional in East Asia, ladies there apply “mehndi” on special occasions as a sign of happiness and celebration. It is also common for brides to apply arm-length henna to convey prosperity.

Different henna patterns and symbols also have ethnic and religious meanings. For instance, the “Om” symbol is native among Hindus and Buddhists. It is a symbol of universal spirituality and also connects to a religious deity.

You can always draw your lucky flower or anything in your henna tattoo to add more meaning.

Brown vs Black Henna Tattoo

Henna tattoo

There are two types of henna tattoos that you can get from the market; Black henna tattoo and brown henna tattoo. Most people don’t know the difference, hence get unsatisfactory results.

  • Brown Henna: A brown henna is driven from the natural henna plant.
  • Black Henna: A black henna is also driven from the same henna plant, the only difference is that it contains more chemicals. The foremost is paraphenylenediamine (PPD).

This chemical is used to increase the duration of the henna tattoo or to make a more reliable, dark design. However, with chemicals, there are consequences as well. PPD can cause allergies and can sometimes lead to skin burns.

Since it is hard to know what kind of henna you’re using on your hands, always make sure that you buy 100% pure henna. Most of the beauty experts make henna cones from fresh natural brown henna.

How much does Henna Tattoo cost?

You will be surprised to know that Henna Tattoos cost significantly lower than their counterpart, permanent tattoos. Because it’s a completely natural product, you can even make your own DIY tattoo project at home.

For this, you have to buy a pure henna powder , and fill it in henna stencils or cones. Even if you go to a professional henna artist, you will still get a lot of discounts.


So, there you have it, a complete discussion of What henna tattoo is and how you can make one at your home. It is a fun way to get a temporary design, if you like something off the charts. The key thing to consider here is that you buy the natural product, the rest is the waiting game.

Also, henna tattoo can be more fun if you get a hold on some interesting henna tattoo designs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are henna tattoos safe?

Henna is a completely natural compound. Pure henna powder is safe for all and has no adverse effects. Beware of black henna as it contains harmful chemicals.

What is the difference between mehndi and henna?

Nothing at all! Henna and mehndi are just different terminologies used for the same product. The word “Mehndi” is common in East Asia and Arabic countries.

Are there any health benefits of henna?

Yes! Henna was used to calm skin conditions for many years. Even now, it has immense benefits for hair and skin. Most prominently, it relieves skin irritations like sunburns and offers a cooling effect.


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