With Ramadan almost over, girls everywhere will be planning Eid dresses, jewelry and certainly Henna.
The use of henna is gendered in that it is mostly used by women for body art on festive occasions such as weddings, child birth and in Muslim cultures, on the two ‘Eidain’, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Women, especially post-pubescent women, use it on hands, feet, soles and on nails. As Islam prohibits permanent methods of skin pigmentation such as tattooing, and the use of nail polishes which coat the nails, henna is a religiously acceptable method of pigmentation and beautification. Medicinally, both men and women use it to soothe skin irritation and as hair dye.
There are different types of hennas available and we need to make sure that we have the right one.
Traditional Henna: The henna leaves are crushed and mixed with water and an acidic solution, like lemon juice. It is applied using a fine stick or a pointed, filled cone and left to dry for several hours. The color of the henna varies from light orange to dark brown, and gradually fades over 2-3 weeks, or earlier if washed using bar soap rubbed vigorously in water.
White Henna is a new fashion which originated in the Middle-East and has now spread to different parts of the world. It is popular as a bridal decoration and for darker-skinned people for whom traditional henna does not have a satisfactory effect. It uses the application method of traditional henna, but applies a medically-safe FDA approved adhesive paste to the skin. Different patterns are employed to create intricate designs. The adhesive paste dries in about 10 minutes and is brushed with glitter or studded with rhinestones to give a silvery-white glowing finish to the skin. The ‘white henna’ technique can also include pastes in different colors, increasing the available range of temporary skin-decoration colors.
Black Henna is a risky option not worth taking. This is a chemical concoction which is being commercially marketed as henna because it produces pigmentation faster than pure henna. Its color on the skin is darker, but because of its toxicity, it is dangerous to use. It frequently causes allergic reaction and burns the skin. It is recommended that you do not buy black henna. The safest method is to mix henna from scratch or use traditional henna sold in cones from reputable retailers.