Hennaed skin is not tattooed as the practice does not require any piercing. Henna paste is
a dye that leaves a more or less durable stain on the outer layer of the skin alone. Henna
contains hennotannic acid that binds with cells, so the henna paste must stay moist and in
contact with the skin for a while. When applied, the henna paste is always black, but the
resulting pattern with natural henna varies from light orange to dark brown.
Heat makes the dye darker. Black stains are the result of additional dyes and compounds
added to the paste. The henna stain will last until the top layer of the skin exfoliates. All
skin on the body gradually exfoliates and is replaced by new skin in 1-12 weeks,
depending on individual factors. The henna, then, will last as long as 8 weeks on the thick
soles of your feet, or go away as quickly as 3-4 days on very thin parts of your skin.
There are three principal design styles in henna painting: firstly, the Arabic designs
feature large patterns on the hands and feet; secondly, the Indian designs are more finelined and paisley patterned; and thirdly, the Sudanese designs are large and bold with
It is very unusual for anyone to have an adverse reaction to natural henna as it is one of
the safest cosmetics ever used, but if one is concerned then a patch test could be the
The application of henna to the body is neither painful nor poisonous. When used in body
decoration, henna can be thought of as an organically-derived temporary tattooing. Henna
simply a method of drawing various designs on the skin without the use of needles. As
the skin absorbs and reacts with the henna powder, the skin is actually stained for a
period of up to four weeks. Because henna is a natural stain, it can't be rubbed off or
removed with soap and water.
The dye, which is permanent on fabric or wood, lingers anywhere from 2-12 weeks on
skin, depending upon the quality of the henna, its reaction with an individual's skin and
the care taken to preserve the design.