My Weekend Henna

So my girlfriend Bec76 did some beautiful henna on me this weekend, and I documented the process in photos for those who’ve never done it.

I frickin’ love henna, since it’s like a mutating tattoo, and the process is a strangely personal one – having someone draw on your skin is surprisingly intense.  And when you have someone who’s really good at it like Bec is, you wind up hauling around some very much pretty.  (Note that Bec is available for parties, weddings, and bar mitzvahs, if you live in the Cleveland areas.)

Henna

The process starts with Bec using a tiny pastry squeezer to draw small lines of henna-mud onto my hand.  This is what stains the skin, and you have to be careful – the henna tends to draw heat from the skin, making you cold, and then you have to be very careful in the first few hours not to smear or touch it until it dries.  (And even after.)

You can see the thickness of the henna here, which is a crust on your hand, so you have to keep all body parts absolutely still.  It’s kind of a trick.

This time, Bec used a gold paint to stylize and seal in the henna – which didn’t really work very well.  The problem is that the gold leaf washes off in a day or two, and it’s only really there when the henna is still intensifying – and considering how much work it is to put on, it’s not really a good use of time.

Henna

Now that it’s gilded it looks pretty, but normally what Bec would do would be to seal in the henna with a lemon-sugar-water combination.  (Otherwise, it would brush off too easily, so we need something to stick it to the skin.)  This gilding took about an hour, whereas brushing on the water is a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, the gild is much better at protecting the henna while it leaches into the skin, so what she’s going to look at is finding a clear version of this that’s kind of like a shellac – easily added, but tight.

Next, we wrap the henna in a protective coating so that it won’t rub off while I sleep.  Say hello to Mister Socko!

And because you people seem obsessed with my sock-related photos, here is a picture of my foot.  I don’t know why you’d think it would be anything else.

Now, henna normally lasts a week or two, but here’s the trick to my henna: I’m fucking obsessive about keeping the henna on until I absolutely have to.  I spent much of Saturday typing with my hand in a sock, and left this crusty bit on for about twenty hours.  Doing so is a real pain.  For comparison, Gini’s henna (which was, admittedly, on her back) was off in about ten, and was pretty destroyed by the morning.  You can already see where mine flaked off, though… But since my last two hennae have lasted almost a month, it’s a small sacrifice.

When you finally scrape the henna off, the design will be very light, as it is here.  It will darken somewhat.  The darkness of the henna depends on the thickness of the skin.  In thin-skinned areas, like a back or a shoulder, it will be about this dark when it’s done.  For thick-skinned areas like the pads of my fingers, it will get almost black.

And this is the henna as it looked two days later, taken this morning:

It’s beautiful stuff.  If it wasn’t such an absorption of my girlfriend’s time, I’d have this on all the damn time.  It makes me feel pretty.

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