Henna is a magic tree :) Some might call it a shrub. It grows in hot, dry climates in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The henna process begins when the leaves are picked from the tree, dried and ground up and traded as a powder. I buy the freshest, all-natural henna powder available and mix into a paste, using lemon juice and essential oils. For 12 hours - 24 hours, depending on the henna crop it chills out in the tropical warmth of our St. John home while the lawsome (dye molecule in henna leaves) is released from the powder. Then, I pour it into a cone and and it is ready for henna'ing!
Once you choose a design and where on the body you would like it, it is time to relax as the paste is carefully hand painted on your skin and left to dry for about 30 minutes.The feeling of being painted on is really cool (figuratively and literally- henna actually has a cooling effect and has been used as a traditional medicine to treat burns). After the paste dries, a mixture of lemon juice and sugar can be used to seal the henna, and/or covered to rest. To get a good stain, keep the henna paste on for the next 4-12 Hours while the henna soaks in to dye the outer layers of your skin (dye molecules in the henna binds with the proteins in your skin). The longer the paste is left on, the darker the stain will be, and the longer it will last. When the paste is removed, the stain underneath is revealed (the moment we've been waiting for). It first appears orange, and as the henna oxidizes over the next 48 hours, the stain darkens into a brown and can get as dark black cherry on the palms. Henna stains darkest on the palms of the hands and bottom of the feet due to the high concentration of keratin, the protein that henna binds to. it typically lasts 1 - 3 weeks, but could last as long as a month, or as little as a few days. As your skin cells die and fall off, the stain falls off with it and fades away.