Henna comes from Henna plants grown in the Middle East countries. The leaves are ground and triple sifted to make body art quality powder, which is then mixed usually with lemon juice and sugar and essential oils before it is applied to the skin.
The use of lemon juice and essential oils helps the henna to stain more deeply and the sugar helps it to stick to the skin depending on the amount of humidity in the air. Henna needs to stay on your skin for a minimum of four hours and due to the lack of humidity in most of New Mexico, I recommend that it stays on overnight.
Wrapping the henna with toilet paper and an ace bandage are usually the best method of keeping it on overnight. In the morning or after 24 hours if you’d like, you can usually rub gently to have the paste fall off (over the trash or sink, henna stains most things it lands on if it reactivates).
If the paste is stuck to the skin don’t pick at it but instead get olive oil or some other vegetable based oil, apply to it, let it sit a few minutes, and then remove with a paper towel. You may possibly need to repeat this a few times.
Do not wash off henna and avoid water for the first 24 hours after paste removal for the best stain. Henna lasts anywhere from a week to three weeks. Optimum stain usually occurs by 48 hours after paste removal.
Usually, the stain is quite strong for the first week depending on the area that it is applied and then gradually starts fading until it’s similar to freckles about the 2nd to 3rd week, which fades completely by the following week.
Henna stains the most strongly on the hands and feet with the strongest and deepest color being on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet. Henna done on the torso or on the head will not usually last as long and they do not stain as deeply or darkly due to thinner and more oily skin.
A new trend in recent years is white henna or colored henna which is not actually henna at all but are body art products which layer on the top of the skin and do not last as long. I do have some of those products, be sure to ask if you are interested in them for more details.