Before applying henna to the skin, it is best to make sure skin is clean and free of pore clogging lotions and sunscreens.
The henna paste is applied by hand to the body in the desired pattern, using a jacquard bottle with a metal tip, much like puff paint or cake decorating. It does not hurt to get henna applied, and on a hot day, the cooling effect created while the paste evaporates can be very pleasant. I do all my henna freehand, and do not use stencils or transfers, so each design is adjusted to fit your body.
A lemon juice and sugar solution is applied to the dried henna, as a kind of fixative. This helps prevent the paste from flaking off once it dries and to keep it moist so it is absorbed into the skin better. It is best to apply this solution about every 15 minutes for the first hour or so. The dried paste should remain on the skin for at least 3 hours, longer if possible.
When ready, the dried paste is scraped off to reveal the stain left on the skin. If needed, olive oil can be used to soften the dried paste to assist in the removal. The stain will darken over the next 24 hours. Henna body art can last from 1 to 3 weeks, on average, and with proper care, even longer.
Once the paste is removed, the yellow-orange stain will begin to oxidize and become darker over the next 48 hours. Natural henna will always leave a stain in the range of orange/red/brown, however, the shade can vary. Certain parts of the body will stain darker or lighter. Palms of hands and soles of feet stain the darkest, the closer you go to the core of the body the lighter the stain becomes.
The length of time the paste is allowed to stay on the skin also determines how dark and lasting the stain will be.
*Natural henna will never dye your skin purple, pink, or black. Any henna that dyes your skin a color other than reddish-brown has chemicals added that are not clearly healthy or safe. Please use only safe and natural brown henna.*