Hi guys! Today I’m going to talk to you about henna. As many of you know henna is a natural form of body art but what many people don’t know is that henna has so much more to offer. It has been used throughout history by the likes of Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and Mumtaz Mahal (who the Taj Mahal was built after) – and if it’s good enough for them, it’s deffo good enough for me.
A little henna history
To give you a quick intro to henna; the art of henna has been practised for over 5000 years in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. It was used in Ancient Egypt to give the mummies a little mani/pedi before they were put into coffins. It was also used to colour their hair – divas much?? It’s said that Cleopatra and Nefertiti used to decorate themselves in henna patterns. But it wasn’t only used by royalty – the poor liked to use it to adorn themselves with in place of expensive jewellery.
Where does henna come from?
So henna comes from a flowering plant also known as Lawsonia AKA Hina AKA Henna Tree AKA Mignonttee Tree AKA Egyptian Privet (ok I’m done being extra now). It can grow 12-15ft high. The word henna comes from the Arabic word ‘Al-Hinna’.
To turn henna from plant into the henna we all know for body art, the plant is dried and crushed into a very fine powder. It’s then made into a paste using a wide variety of different techniques that I’m not going to get into right now – soz babes. Although the paste appears a dark green/brown, when applied it stains orange/red. Henna contains lawson which is a orange/red dye that binds to the keratin (which is a protein) found in our skin and this leaves a stain. As our palms and the soles of our feed contain the most keratin, these parts usually stain the darkest. Personally I think that this is pretty cool.
It is typically found in hot climates such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Morocco, Eritrea, and even Australia. The best henna comes from hot and dry climates and usually stains the darkest.
The many uses of henna:
- It acts as sunblock and heals sunburns.
- Henna has healing properties; used in Ancient times, applied topically to skin in order to heal burns, open wounds, stomach ache, and headaches.
- It was also used to reduce fevers, help athletes foot, and prevent hair loss.
- I don’t know if this is still the case but henna has been used to decorate drum skin and dying leather.
- For Muslim and Hindu weddings, decorating the brides hands and feet in henna is a must!
- Henna has been used by the people of the dessert for its cooling properties. They would stain the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet in henna. As long as the stain lasted, they would be getting an AC effect through their body.
Where I got my Henna done:
If you’re based in London and looking for someone to do your henna for you, my good friend Nazmin who I’ve known for years is really talented. Nazmin runs the Be Beautiful Parlour in based in Finsbury Park in North London – they specialise in hair, beauty, and nails. I will link all their social media below.
She did my henna for me recently and I loved how it turned out – I hadn’t had it done in so long prior to this, I forgot how cool it is and now I want to learn how to do it myself so I can have cool patterns on my hands all the time. I just got mine done because I felt like it, but Nazmin does do bridal henna as well. Nazmin uses 100% organic henna purchased from @autumnhenna on Instagram. I really like to smell of henna and this brand of henna smelled absolutely divine!
The makeup artists at the Be Beautiful Parlour are very flexible; they are mobile (so they can come to you), or you can visit them at the salon or at Nazmin’s house. A lot of their clients have allergies or skin conditions, so they are used to using makeup brought to them by their customers. If you’re into natural/organic makeup, you know the struggle of finding a appropriate makeup artist in the UK. Nazmin is happy to use natural/organic makeup to create beautiful makeup looks for you if you don’t want to compromise ingredients to look hot!
Facebook: Be Beautiful Parlour
Overall henna is so many uses – it’s used for self expression, celebration of a special occasion, beauty, cosmetic treatments, and it has medicinal uses. Also one more thing it was used for which I think is pretty cool – the Persians used henna to dye the hooves and mane of their horse. On my recent trip to Rome i found out that during the Roman period henna even reached as far as Italy where women used it to cover grey hair.