Package of Dulhan mehndi powder.
The left bag has old stale henna,
the right has fresh henna.
There are many different recipes that you may use to prepare your henna. Of paramount importance is that you use fresh well sifted henna. Fresh henna will give you the best and darkest color with the least amount of effort (fresh henna has a light green color, vs. old henna which is more of an olive green). Well sifted henna (i.e., henna powder devoid of small twigs and other foreign objects), will help to keep your applicator from clogging. In order to make the henna powder release the dye a mild acid must be used. Such acids include lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar. Henna will not release hennotannic acid unless it is at a 5.5 ph or higher. If you have very high quality henna, lemon juice is all that you need to make your henna release dye and be beautiful.
"Citrus in Blue Painting"
by Ulla Mayer-Raichle
Here are three of many possible recipes:
1. This is my recipe--
- If needed, sift your henna powder using a fine mesh strainer, or try a nylon stocking stretched over an inverted jar. Sift the powder over a large piece of paper (like a newspaper).
- Squeeze one or two fresh lemons. Make sure to strain the juice well to eliminate bits of pulp, seeds, etc. Save the rest of your juice for making lemon sugar while doing your henna designs.
- In a bowl, add enough lemon juice to the henna powder to make a stiff paste (about the consistency of mashed potatoes).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the henna to sit overnight (preferably in a warm, but not hot, place).
- The next morning add a few drops of essential oil (I usually use tea tree, lavender, and/or clove).
- You want you finished henna paste to be about as soft and stringy as gooey toothpaste (you will probably notice that your henna softened a little on its own over night). Add honey to make your henna thinner. The honey not only smoothes out the henna paste, but it makes it slightly sticky, which helps your paste stay on the skin when doing designs.
2. This recipe is by Catherine Cartwright Jones--
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice and strain it.
- Stir enough juice into your henna powder to make a paste as thick as cookie dough.
- Let that sit, covered, overnight at about 70F. If your kitchen is much warmer than that, don't let it sit so long, or keep it in the fridge.
- (You can use vinegar, tamarind, red wine or other acidic things to the henna powder, and they'll work just fine, but might not smell as nice as citrus. Rainwater, if acidic, works well when your kitchen is over 90F.)
- The next morning, stir in just enough of your morning coffee or tea into the henna paste to thin it out just a little softer than toothpaste, but not quite as thin as stirred yogurt.
- Stir your paste enough to smooth out all the lumps.
3. This recipe is adapted from Loretta Roome's book, "Mehndi: The Timeless Art of Henna Painting." It is a good recipe, and smells great, but takes a lot of preparation.--
- The Brew:
- Add 1/2 cup dark tea leaves to 4 cups of distilled or spring water. Boil until 1/2 of the water is gone.
- Add whole cloves, dried lemon pieces, coffee, and tamarind. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the brew cool over night.
- Without disturbing the sediment, pore the brew into a bowl or large measuring cup.
- Squeeze out the sediment.
- Strain the mixture through a fine tea strainer or coffee filter.
- Add fresh strained lemon juice from one lemon.
- Reheat the brew, but remove from the stove before boiling.
- Extra brew can be kept frozen for future henna batches.
- The Paste
- Gradually add 1/2 cup henna to 2/3-1 cup brew.
- You want the paste to reach a thickness similar to cake frosting. Stirr out all lumps and pockets of powder.
- Seal the henna in a tupperware container or cover it with plastic wrap. Let the henna sit for at least 2 hours, but preferably over night, in a warm place.
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