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About Henna Art

Henna Art has exists for more than 5000 years, cultures of henna art spread from India to Africa to the Middle East have embraced the art of henna body decoration-for fashion and beauty, for personal expression, for social and religious occasions, for healing purposes, and more. In recent years global travel and migration, along with increased communication and cultural sharing have brought henna to many parts of the West, mingling traditional practices of Henna art with new interpretations and uses. Since the mid-1990s henna body art has enjoyed a vogue throughout the U.S. and Europe. Popularized by artists, actors, fashion models, and musicians, it has been discovered by thousands of interested individuals from all backgrounds.

Henna is all-natural, safe, temporary, and painless – a unique way to decorate your personality, spirit and body with henna art symbols.

Henna derives from a plant known as Lawsonia Inermis, whose leaves are dried and crushed to make a powder with natural dying properties. The application of henna has four distinct benefits (“the four C’s”), as it cools, conditions cleanses and colors the skin. Henna is also commonly applied to hair — on which it has a similar effect — by millions in Asia and Africa, where it is inexpensive and readily available, and helps cool the scalp in the hot summer months.

The henna plant grows in hot climates and can be found in countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco, Yemen, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and India. It is known by many names, including Henne, Al-Khanna, Jamaica Mignonette, Egyptian Privet, and Smooth Lawsonia. The art of applying henna is referred to as ‘henna’ and ‘mehndi’, depending on which culture or country one comes from.

From the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt to modern-day wedding parties, from Morocco to India, henna has enjoyed a variety of applications and meanings throughout the centuries.

Henna contains hennotannic acid, a dye that bonds with the collagen in skin cells and keratin of fingernails and hair, leaving behind a reddish-brown stain. 

Henna is the oldest documented cosmetic and is soothing and cooling on the skin. It alleviates heat exhaustion and is even a natural sunblock. Henna is native to Asia and the Mediterranean coast of Africa and now thrives in warmer climates all over the world.

 

Believe it or not, the practice of mehndi started out as an answer to the need for air-conditioning in the desert. The henna plant, whose botanical name is Lawsonia inermis and which comes from the Loosestrife family, has several medicinal properties, chief among them its ability to cool down the human body. When the desert people of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Gujarat became aware of henna’s cooling properties, they dipped their hands and feet in a mud or paste made with the crushed leaves of the plant. Even when the mud was scraped off, they noticed that as long as the color remained visible, their body temperatures stayed low.

Eventually, some women grew tired of bright red palms and found that one large central dot in the palm of the hand had the same effect, while being more pleasing to the eye. Other, smaller dots were placed around the center dot, which gradually gave way to the idea of creating outright artistic designs. To that end, a thin instrument made of silver or ivory (in India) or wood (in Morocco), then most commonly used for applying kohl to the eyes, became the instrument of choice for henna applications, and it is still in use in desert villages today. Only in the last 30 years or so have the popular Indian cone and Moroccan syringe, both of which are able to deposit the thinnest filaments of henna onto the skin, come into play as modern counterparts of the simple stick.

 

Today, while most henna artists prefer to use soft squeeze plastic applicator bottles otherwise used for silk screening, some still love using the Indian cone. 

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