How To Do Your Own Henna Tattoo

Perfect for those who can't commit to a permanent tattoo and aren't bothered by a little well-intentioned cultural appropriation.
Publish date:
June 18, 2013
natural, DIY, India, skin, tea, henna, videos, tattoos, henna tattoos, mehndi

Like most mischievous little children, we used to love to draw--on everything. If we were left alone for more than an hour, there would be shapes and patterns made in marker all over our walls, furniture, and each other. Such little Picassos, we were! Unfortunately our artistic talents quit maturing after the age of five, and today we can’t draw for our lives.

Pia was especially handy with a marker, drawing on her hands and arms. No wonder she’s the first and only one of us two to every experiment with tattoos. She got one when she was 18, then another a few years ago on her foot. It looks awesome but I, Runa, am too chicken.

I always wondered how she could be so sure she’d want something on her skin for her whole life. She’s been itching to get another tattoo for quite some time, so to satiate her urge to draw all over herself, she started playing around with henna.

The art of henna, or mehndi, as it is often called, is the use of dyes made from the henna plant to create temporary designs on the skin. Henna tattoos last for a few weeks, and you can create almost any design you want with the stuff. It’s popular during weddings and festivals in India and is usually done on the palms and feet.

You can buy henna powder ready-made these days, but on trips to India, we have seen people do it the old-school way, by grinding henna leaves and adding ingredients like oil and turmeric, smearing it over a stencil or drawing patterns on the skin freehand.

Pia buys henna powder and mixes up her own concoction with tea and whatnot to create a color she likes. Sooo she decided to give you a little demonstration on how you can create your own henna tattoo, too.

A few hours later...

That’s her henna work station, with her proud stuffed moose collection in the background (she made me say that).

Once the henna has dried, which takes a few hours, you wipe away the dried bits of mixture with a damp cloth to reveal your tattoo. As Pia mentioned, the depth of color depends on how long you leave the henna on. If you’re fidgety like her, you aim for a solid five hours but usually only last about three.

The result after a few hours is a pretty pattern that looks like it’s inked in a deep brownish-red, like Pia’s. Within a few days, the lines will sharpen and your tattoo will look much clearer.

Have you ever done a henna tattoo? Thinking about doing it now?