Mehendi designs are varied and unique, and each culture that uses them has their own traditions and history behind the practice. They’ve become popular as a form of self-expression and body art in the West, but unless you were raised in the rich cultural atmosphere that created the art of Mehendi, the how-to is probably a mystery.
You can either make the paste yourself, or purchase pre-filled Mehendi cones. If you use home made, you can use a zip-lock bag with a decorator tip fitted into the one corner. The make it last on the skin requires further preparation. There are a number of design templates available for download; this is how to apply the paste.
PREPARING THE SKIN
You should cleanse the area to be decorated with rubbing alcohol to remove excess oils that can keep the dye from penetrating or adhering properly. Make sure to use plastic or rubber gloves (like surgical gloves or the kind you use for dying your hair) when applying the henna paste, and protect any surfaces or clothing in your work area.
APPLYING THE HENNA PASTE
The thinner the skin in the area where you’re placing the design, the darker the stain. The most common placements are hands, wrists, feet and backs. Place the tip of the cone directly on the skin and apply pressure until the dye emerges; once you get a sense of how fast or slow the dye will come out, you can proceed with more confidence.
Once the design is finished, let it dry completely. Some people cover the area with plastic wrap for up to 10 hours, and others allow it to air-dry until the excess paste flakes off. A properly applied new mehendi designs will last for up to a month.
To remove the design, you can either wait for it to fade naturally as your skin exfoliates, or you can use one of the following methods:
1. Soak in a hot bath, and then use an exfoliating body sponge or scrub.
2. Using a whitening toothpaste that contains peroxide and/or baking soda will remove some of the residual stain.
3. Apply an Aplha or Beta hydroxy-based skin cream that accelerates the exfoliation process.
4. Chlorine helps fade the dye, so if you swim frequently, your design will fade quicker; just make sure to never use straight bleach or chlorine directly on your skin or you will get a chemical burn.
Thanks to the Internet, websites like Craftsvilla provide a wealth of information about the history and proper use of cultural symbolism and spiritual practices. It’s important to know the meaning behind traditions like Mehendi, It’s a sign of respect for the culture and history of the people, and you’ll avoid looking foolish or offensive.