Do-It-Yourself Henna Kit

Henna is a natural way to dye your skin or hair.
Henna is a natural way to dye your skin or hair. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

"Mehndi" -- the art of henna body painting -- dates to 1200 B.C. when the pharaohs used the crushed leaves of the henna plant to color their nails and hair. Long considered an art form in the Middle East, India and Africa, henna tattoos have recently become popular in North America. Henna is used for tattoos and as a natural hair dye. Other uses for henna include coloring horse's hooves, fabric and animal skins. A henna tattoo can last one to three weeks. Hennaed hair will stay until it grows out, although the color will fade with time and should be touched up every four to six weeks. Assembling a do-it-yourself henna kit is easier than you think.

Things You'll Need

  • Henna powder
  • Paper and scissors
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Latex gloves
  • Plastic bag
  • Masking tape

Buy high-grade black henna powder for a tattoo. If you are dying your hair, you can choose different colors, including red, brown and black. Although henna will make your hair darker, you can’t lighten it using this plant-based substance.

Design your own stencils or download some from the Internet. Be creative and decide what sort of tattoo designs you want, it might be dragons, snakes or a mosaic pattern.

Mix a paste with henna and liquid that is about the consistency of yogurt. Some people like to use water, others prefer cold tea and lemon juice.

Wear latex gloves. If you are applying a tattoo or dying your hair and don't wear gloves, the henna will color the skin on your hands. So unless you want reddish hands for up to three weeks, wear latex gloves.

Coat the surrounding area with petroleum jelly to prevent coloring you don’t want. If you are using henna on your hair, for example, it will prevent straining your ears and surrounding areas.

Sit in the bathtub or another easy-to-clean area when working with henna. If you spill or drop the henna compound, clean it up immediately to prevent it from staining the floor or rug.

Cover the tattoo or your head with a plastic bag. Tape the bag to your body and leave it on for as long as possible. As the henna dries, it will cake and fall off, but you can touch it up with additional water or cold tea if you want to keep it on longer.

Run water over the tattoo or your head until the water runs clear. Henna has a thick feeling – rather like mud – when it is on your hair, so be prepared to stand in the shower for a while. Using shampoo will speed up the process.

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