Henna Body Art Dye Release Guide

Publié par Lisa Spaulding le

There is so much information on the internet and we all know that everything on the internet is true, right?
Ha ha ha...
For thousands of years, the mixing and usage techniques of henna was based of tradition & legends instead of science; for this reason, there is a ton of bad information out there.
So ignore the person who tells you to drink henna tea (please don't ever eat henna!), be afraid of the person who wants you to soak you skin in toxic chemicals and laugh at the person who says to dance naked around a fire on the full moon all in the name of darker henna stain.

The science of henna is simple and making a great henna paste is easy. Just follow the these steps:

Super Fast Dye Release (but not necessarily the best stain):

  • Mix henna powder with warm, distilled water to make a thick paste (think greek yogurt, sour cream or guacamole for those who avoid dairy).
  • (don't use a stainless steel bowl!)
  • Cover airtight with plastic.Place paper towel over the plastic.
  • Let sit 1 hour. Check for dye release every hour *See below
  • Use immediately.
    The dye content will be lower. The stain might not be as dark as it could & might not last as long as it should. See the Henna Chemistry lesson below.
    This henna will not keep. The dye will demise within a few hours. Not good for storing pre-made cones.

A Little More Involved For a Better Stain BODY ART:
  • Place 100g of henna powder in a bowl (plastic, ceramic or glass).
  • Mix with enough acidic liquid to make a thick paste as above. (lemon juice is best for body art. If allergic to citrus, apple cider vinegar in 50% water is good, apple juice for young & sensitive skin)
  • Add no more than 15 ml (1 Tbsp) of a safe essential oils.  Mix well.
  • Add 1Tbsp of sugar for Jamila henna. For Raj henna, only 1 tsp of sugar.
  • Cover airtight with plastic wrap (press the plastic against the paste to protect paste from the air).
  • Place a paper towel or tissue over the plastic, then cover with a towel to protect from the light.
  • Let henna sit in a warm location until there is dye release.
    Lemon juice & vinegar - dye release will take from 8 - 24 hours depending on the temperature. Apple juice: check every hour after 4 hours.
  • Now you can add more liquid to get the consistency you want. Just add a few drops at a time!
  • Strain (through a nylon is most common) to make sure there are no lumps.
  • Store in freezer any henna paste that is not going to be used that day.
    (Henna powder is good in the freezer for 3 years, dye released henna paste is good in the freezer for 6 months).

** How to check for dye release:

Once you see an orange stain on the paper towel that's over the plastic wrap, dye release has begun. Look under the plastic wrap - is the top of the henna paste a dark brown & the paste below a lighter colour? If so, dip in an fingertip & let the paste sit on your finger for 5 minutes. Wash off. If there is a *bright* orange stain on your finger, it's ready. If the stain is light & dull, let the paste bake more & retest every 2 hours.

** A quick henna chemistry lesson:  

The dye in henna is called Lawson, but it’s not formed & free yet.  
There are precursors to Lawson in the henna leaves, called hennocides (glucocides), that will migrate out of the plant material when mixed with a liquid.  
The hennocides need hydrogen to convert to aglycone. Aglycones are like the hands that bind the dye to the hair & skin.
Lawson dye has been created & is active.

Acidic Liquid:
is slower + has more hydrogen = very well developed aglycone = higher dye content & will bind permanently to the keratin of the hair.
In mildly acidic henna paste at room temperature, the aglycone will become available after about an 8 hour soak and remain at maximum in the paste for 12 – 24 hour hours, after which the percentage of the bindable aglycone form of the lawsone molecule will gradually become lawsone.
Colour starts light & coppery but darkens to a rich red.

Water as liquid:
fast, low hydrogen = aglycone can’t develop properly = lower dye content & cant’ bind permanently to the hair (will fade over time).
Henna + hot water = brighter orange that fades over time.
The aglycone intermediate cannot develop in boiling water, so the stain cannot effectively bind to the hair.
Colour: immediate medium red that doesn’t darken

Boiling water:
Immediate dye release with no aglycone = will wash out very quickly.
Colour: immediate medium red that doesn’t darken

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