WHAT IS HENNA?
Henna is a natural dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis that is also known as hina or the henna tree. Historically, henna was used particularly in the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent as a natural dye to stain skin or dye hair. Henna has been used to adorn young women’s bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations across the entire world.
Whole, unbroken henna leaves do not stain the skin, until the lawsone molecules are released from the henna leaves. However, dried henna leaves will stain the skin when they are mashed into a paste. This is because the lawsone will gradually migrate from the henna paste into the outer layer of the skin and bind to the proteins in it, creating a stain. Henna is also commonly sold in a powder form (learn more).
WHAT ARE HENNA CONES?
Since it is difficult to form intricate patterns from coarsely crushed leaves, the henna is converted into paste which is then packed in a cone-shaped packet for ease of use when creating patterns (like a pen for drawing). This allows a person to create intricate designs and patterns.
TYPES OF HENNA CONES?
There are generally two varieties of henna cones available:
- Natural henna cones.
- Fast colour henna cones.
Natural henna cones
Natural henna cones contain only henna powder, a liquid and an essential oil. The shelf life of these types of henna cones is very short, especially in warm climates. Natural henna cones produce a rich red-brown stain which can darken in the days after it is first applied. This colour is referred to as traditional colour. It takes a little while for the colour to fully mature.
Fast colour / instant henna cones
Fast colour henna cones are essentially dye and contain chemicals. They are referred to as henna cones because they have similar results and resemble traditional henna cones. Those with sensitive skin or those who have an allergy to chemicals should avoid such cones. Fast colour cones allow the full colour to show within minutes rather than having to wait for the colour to mature, as is the case with natural henna cones. Fast colour cones have a variety of colours, the most popular of which is black. There are also brownish colours.
It is, therefore, always recommended to conduct a small skin test to see if you react to the dye.
What are black henna cones?
Black henna cones are not natural henna. They contain chemicals like PPD to create a black stain / colour. Regardless of what any person or company says, there can be no such a thing as natural black henna paste for skin. It is a chemical dye, which should be avoided by those with sensitive skin or allergy to chemical dyes.
HOW TO USE HENNA CONES?
Natural henna cones –
- Cut a very small hole at the pointy end of the cone using scissors. If the cone has a pin, remove the pin.
- Slowly squeeze the cone onto a scrap piece of paper or tissue to test the flow of the paste.
- Hold the cone like a pen and draw the desired pattern on your body.
- Once you have finished applying, let the henna dry. Drying times for natural henna is about
15 minutes at room temperature.
- Once the henna has fully dried, peel off the dried top layer to reveal the colour. However, the longer the paste is left on, the darker the colour will come out.
- The colour of natural henna can take 24 – 48 hours to show its full colour.
How long to keep the henna paste on?
Top Tip: the longer the paste is left on the skin, the darker and longer lasting the stain will be, so leave it on for as long as possible. To prevent it from drying or falling off the skin, dab a sugar/lemon mix over the dried paste or add some form of sugar to the paste. You can cover it using a clear plastic bag. After time the dry paste is simply brushed or scraped away. The paste should be kept on the skin for a minimum of four to six hours for the best colour results.
Fast colour / instant henna cones –
The method of using fast colour henna cones is exactly the same as that of natural henna cones. The only difference is the result and the drying times.
Drying times for instant henna is about 3-5 minutes at room temperature. You can remove the dried layer immediately after it is dried. There is no need to keep it on the hand for a longer period of time. The colour should immediately show.
General Information –
Always store the cones in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Storing the cones in a very warm environment can melt the paste inside resulting in the paste becoming too runny upon application. Due to the heat, the colour of the outer wrapper may also mix into the henna paste resulting in discolouration of the paste from its original colour.