Before applying henna, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind. While fresh henna can be purchased at most health food and Asian markets and is generally considered safe, it is important to avoid a powder known as “black henna,” which often contains the toxic chemical PPD and can cause severe allergic reactions.
Henna comes in powder form and must be mixed into a paste before application. The color may not take as well on certain body parts and tends to penetrate best on the palms and backs of hands, feet, abdomen, and inner arms. After the paste is applied, it should be left on the skin for at least six hours, but leaving it on for twelve hours or overnight can lead to better results.
To ensure the longevity of the henna, it’s best to avoid using lotion or sunscreen for at least 24 hours prior to application. If applying henna to your hands, you will not be able to put them in water and may need assistance with simple tasks while the henna cures. For optimal results, it’s recommended to have the henna applied two days in advance of a special occasion.