Henna Body Art: Get a Darker and Longer Lasting Henna Stain

Temporarily staining the skin with henna has been an age-old tradition in many Asian and Persian countries. Made from powdered leaves of the henna plant, it is then made into a paste and applied to the body in designsThough it first originated in India, henna is now used as a temporary skin stain and adornment all over the world. It is used for spiritual and decorative purposes and is often used as an adornment for brides.

Henna, also known a mehndi, is a form of body art. Henna involves intricate designs being used to decorate the hands and feet. The beauty of the henna is the dark hue that it gives. However, there are many factors that affect the results of the henna and how dark it becomes.

person applying henna stain tattoo to their other hand, with a cream roped rug below.

With a few simple steps, you can ensure that your henna absorbs better into the skin to appear darker and last a lot longer. Always ensure that your skin is ready and primed. By doing this, as well as leaving the Henna long enough to dry naturally, it can become much darker.

So, follow these steps for guaranteed quality, long-lasting and dark Henna.

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Choose Good Quality Henna

Start off by choosing good quality henna. The quality of the henna will determine the colour depth and how long it lasts. Poor quality henna can be loaded with chemicals that won’t give you as vibrant results as using fresh henna. However, if you can’t get your hands on fresh henna, ensure that the brand that you are using uses the most natural ingredients. You don’t want to choose a pack that has been poorly processed. Also, make sure you choose henna that is as fresh as possible by checking the date.

The longer Henna is left on the store shelves, the more it is likely to lose its pigment. So the earlier you use it, in its life, the better.

When to apply the Henna

Plan when you should have your henna session accordingly to get the best colour possible. Henna usually gives its darkest shade after a few days of applying the product. So, don’t be disappointed to see orange henna straight after you take it off. This is because the air oxidizes it, making it darker.

Natural henna normally takes around 24 to 48 hours to reach its darkest point. So, make sure you apply your henna well in advance. We recommend wearing the henna two days before an event or occasion so the stain can reach its peak colour by then.

a woman with dark hair and henna stain over the back of her hands, covering her face with them.

Where to apply the Henna

Before you go ahead and decide where to apply the henna, have a good think about it first. Since henna only gives off a temporary stain, it gives you more options of where you might want to display it. But, you may want to choose the area carefully as henna absorbs better on some parts of the body than others.

Henna lasts for a longer time on moist, warm, and thick-skinned parts of the body. Therefore, it works best when applied to the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. The further you stray away from these areas, the lighter the henna will stain. So, while you may want to have a nice henna tattoo on your shoulder or back, the pigment may not turn out the best.

Prepping for Henna

Clean your Skin

Make sure your skin is free of any oils or lotions before applying the henna. If your skin isn’t clean, the residue on it can form a barrier between the skin and henna and minimize absorption. This will stop the henna from penetrating into the skin. So, make sure you clean the area that you are going to apply the henna thoroughly first and dry it properly.

Remove Any Unwanted Hair before Application

Avoid shaving or waxing your skin after applying the henna. Try and do this before application as doing this after can scrape the upper layer of your skin. This can strip off the henna and make it fade much quicker. Doing this can ruin the henna and make it look dull without giving you the desired results.

a single hand, in front of a white sheet curtain, whilst covered in henna stain tattoo.

So, for best results, think about when you want to apply the henna to ensure you do not need to get any hair removal done in the area afterwards.

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Do Not Exfoliate

Since henna stains the layers of the skin, by exfoliating it you are removing skin cells.

If you have exfoliated the skin the night before applying it, then the henna may not have as many layers to be absorbed into. This might result in a henna stain that isn’t as dark as you may want.

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Wear an Old T-Shirt

Try and wear something old and comfortable before applying the henna. Henna will stain anything it comes into contact with, including your clothes. Therefore, wear something that you wouldn’t mind too much if it got stained a little. Also, bear in mind that you will have to wait for hours for the henna to dry. So, make sure you are comfortable in what you are wearing too.

Woman getting henna stain applied to her arms

What to Do After Applying the Henna

Spray with Lemon Water

Henna can dry very quickly when applying to the skin. Keeping the henna moist will allow it to penetrate the skin and keep it from cracking. So, applying lemon water to the henna will seal it while the acidity will make it appear darker.

To make this mixture, boil some sugar in water and allow it to cool so it turns into a syrup-like consistency. Once it is completely cool, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the mix. Then, transfer the solution to a spray bottle and spritz it over the henna once it is completely dry. Do not rub it into the skin as it can scrape off the henna.

Make sure the henna is completely dry first to ensure you don’t ruin the design. However, don’t go overboard when applying the lemon mixture to the henna as it can have the opposite effect.

Excess usage of acid can make the henna discoloured and lighten it.

Smoke the Henna Stain with Garlic Cloves

Temperature plays a huge factor in releasing the henna dye. When you are warm, the skin cells expand. This means that there is more surface area to stain and more room for the henna molecules to penetrate skin cells. Therefore, it is believed that heated garlic cloves can darken the henna.

Place some cloves in a pan of boiling water and turn on the heat. Once it starts to smoke, place your hands out to allow the smoke to contact the henna. Make sure you keep your hands at a safe enough distance from the steam to avoid getting burnt.

As the heat allows the colour to become darker, this will help you achieve a darker stain.

a group of woman's hand, each with henna stain tattoo.

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Let the stain dry naturally

The movement, from using hairdryers etc, can cause smudges and ruin the intricate detail and designs. This can waste all the time you spent in applying it and drying it and won’t give you a natural or desired effect. So letting your henna dry naturally is best.

Wrap Your Hands

Wrapping your hands or the area where you applied the henna can trap heat to make the henna appear darker. But, remember to do this after the henna has completely dried to ensure you don’t spoil or smudge the designs. Also, remember not to wrap the area in plastic or cling film. This won’t allow the skin to breathe and will cause sweating and discomfort which can ruin the henna. Instead, wrap it gently in paper towels or by using nylon clothes. This will also stop the henna from getting on any clothes or furniture.

a single hand covered in henna tattoo.

Leave it on For Longer

Try and leave the henna on for as long as possible to see a richer colour develop. This is because the longer you leave it on, the more skin layers it will penetrate. Therefore, when the top skin layers get exfoliated away, the layers below will still be stained, making it last much longer. Leaving the henna on for 6 to 8 hours is recommended, but wearing it overnight can give better results.

So, invest in more hours for a more beautiful and intense pigment.

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Removing Henna Stain

To know if the henna is ready to remove or not, gently pick off a little bit off the henna and see if it has stained your skin or not. It should be a bright orange colour.

The full colour will take a few days to develop so, once you see that it is bright orange, you can go ahead and remove the henna.

Do not Wash It Off

Most of us may hurry to wash your hands with water when it’s time to remove the henna. Rather than washing off the henna with water, wait until it is completely dry first and then rub your hands together until the henna falls off.

Do not remove it with soap or water as this can hinder colour development and make it fade before time. If there are any stubborn bits that won’t come off, use a blunt butter knife to scrape it off.

a pair of hands, one holding a glass tub of coconut butter, the other dipping into it.



Aftercare is essential to ensure that your henna lasts for as long as possible. After removing the henna, make sure you moisturize your skin properly. Apply some coconut oil or almond oil to the parts of the skin that you have applied the henna. This will keep your skin nice and moisturized and help the henna last longer on the skin.

Avoid Water

Henna stains fade quicker the more water you use on it. Therefore, try and avoid contact with water on the stained parts of your skin for as long as possible, preferably for 12 hours.

If you have to, use gloves when doing the dishes or cleaning to prevent the water from getting on your henna design. Cleaning products also have chemicals that can fasten the process of henna fading, so make sure you wear rubber gloves if you decide to do any cleaning or wash dishes.

So whether you’re attending an event, or simply want to decorate your hands with henna use these tips to get a dark and long-lasting henna stain.



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