Why do henna body artists use essential oils in their henna paste?
Once again, it's all about getting as much lawsone dye out of the henna plant as possible.
So you've used an acidic liquid instead of pH neutral water to break down the cellulose that was holding the lawsone dye hostage in the henna plant cells.
Now there is another hurdle to uber dark stains: lawsone dye is hydrophobic. That means it doesn't like water & doesn't want to dissolve in / mix with water. Yeah, I know, you used an acid liquid like lemon juice instead of water. Just lemon juice, vinegar, apply juice.... they are all water based, not oil based. As long as lawsone remains hydrophobic, less of it can bind with the collagen in the skin = a lighter stain.
Natural, pure essential oils are comprised of many chemical compounds. The important compounds we're looking for are called " terpenes". Essential oil terpenes are natural hydrocarbon solvents - hydrocarbon solvents dissolve water-insoluble substances.
The higher the terpene level in the essential oil, the more potential there is for a darker henna stain.
There are many subclasses of terpenes present in essential oils, but the ones we are interested in for henna are terpineol, geraniol, cineol, cedrol, linalool & eugenol. All the others are either don't help the henna stain or are not safe to use on the skin.
When shopping essential oils on Henna Canada, you'll see that I've listed the terpene content. Essential oils with the highest terpene level tends to be Cajeput, Tea Tree, Lavender, Geranium, Cardamom, & Cypress.
Of course, essential oils can be added to your henna paste just for the scent, regardless of the terpene level , so I offer the ability to create your own custom blends so that your paste has a unique scent.
Essential oils are very potent & need to be respected!
Please don't use more than 1 teaspoon of essential oil per 25 g of henna paste. Personally, I only add 1 Tablespoon of essential oil per 100g package of henna.
Because there isn't an oil base in the henna paste to properly dilute essential oils, it is very important to not use too much.
All essential oils offered at Henna Canada are safe to use in henna paste.
Can you still have a good paste without essential oils?
Absolutely. In fact, there are times when it's best not to use essential oils (young children, cancer patients, super sensitive people). The stain might just not be as super crazy dark as it has the potential to be.
Hype / drivel to Ignore:
Lavender is the safest essential oil for use with the general public.
That simply isn't true. I think this rumor was started by M.D.'s who don't actually have any education on essential oils; but lavender is the essential oil that has had the most controlled studies done, so M.D.'s think it's the best to suggest. Yes, lavender is technically safe, but there are a lot of essential oils that are just as medically safe.
The Facts: there are just as many people with the potential of being sensitive to lavender as any other plant. I have been making natural skin care products since 2004 and I can say through years of experience selling to the public that 40% - 55% of shoppers I've encountered HATE lavender. For them, lavender causes nausea, headaches, general flu-like ickiness & even debilitating migraines.
All natural plants have the potential of being an allergen or sensitivity, lavender is not an exception.
Rubbing essential oils on the skin before or after applying henna makes the stain darker.
Or rubbing tiger balm or vics, or the toxic "mehndi oil" on before or after....
The source of this rumour? Most likely passed down through generations of henna users before science. The Facts: henna stains always start out a lighter colour & darken over 2 - 3 days via oxidation. (oxidation: why apple cores turn brown). Rubbing essential oils on the skin before or after henna isn't going to help . If anything, since essential oils should never be directly applied to the skin, the oil base that the essential oils are in, when applied before hennaing, will hinder the henna stain.
The terpenes from the essential oils needs to be mixed with the henna for hours before they can have their hydrocarbon solvent-y effect.