How to Create a Henna Tattoo

Henna has been used across the globe for thousands of years as a form of adornment. The dye itself comes from the leaves of the Henna plant and can be used to create temporary tattoos on the skin, as well as dyeing silk and wool fibres. It’s one of Mother Nature’s oldest colouring crayons and its popularity is anything but waning.

Henna has been used as a hair dye since the Ancient Egyptians. In Europe, red hair become much fetishized by the pre-Raphaelite painters whilst bridal Henna nights have long been popular in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and South Asia where the bride is adorned with intricate Henna art as a symbol of fertility and good luck. Its still popular today in India, which is probably they place you think of when you see beautiful henna designs. You can create henna art yourself at home quite easily and with the festival season not yet over, a henna tattoo is the perfect way to cling onto laid-back summer vibes when the long sleeved clothes come out.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Henna leaves don’t dye the skin on their own; they need to be dried, crushed and turned into a paste or powder. Buy the powder from a reputable retailer such as Survana Organic Beauty Care and mix to create a paste as per the instructions. Funnily enough, sifting the powder and mixing with lemon juice, tea and lavender or eucalyptus oil makes a good paste for body art (as opposed to henna hair dye!). Leave the mixture for at least a couple of hours.
  2. If you’re not sure what you want to draw, look online for design inspiration. Henna art is essentially a series of shapes and lines, so keep it simple and try half-moons, flowers and vines.
  3. When ready, make sure the skin you are applying your body art to is clean and dry. Fill a small, squeeze bottle with the henna paste and draw using the tip. Start in the middle and work your way out with the design to avoid smudging it.
  4. The design will dry and start to crack. This is good and you might want to very gently dab it with cotton wool soaked in a lemon and sugar mixture to help the skin retain the Henna stain. Now comes the awkward bit, you need to wait about 12 hours before you peel off the layer of dried paste. You can wrap it in a bandage and head to bed.
  5. Come morning, using olive oil or essential oils to remove the Henna will result in a longer-lasting finish than if you use water. And then you need to avoid getting your hands wet for another day. That’s another reason I suggested it for festivals!


Emma Waight