Mix Your Own Henna
Making your own henna is easy, fun, and you can't beat the freshness! Since henna is so perishable (it only lasts a few days at room temperature) you'll always get the best results if you DIY. If you've ever seen premade henna cones on a market shelf, that's why they never work well. Who knows how long they took to ship or how long they've been sitting there (they can also be really toxic - more on that here)!
When you make your own henna, you get to customize the scent and consistency exactly how you like it!
This is my tried-and-true super simple, super easy DIY henna recipe. It's the same recipe I use for my clients, and get stains like these:
First, make sure you're starting with fresh, high quality ingredients. If you try to make a salad with old, wilted produce it is not going to be the same as if you used fresh ingredients - right? The same is true with henna. Buy your supplies from a reputable henna artist for best assurance of quality. Products on store shelves or at markets will often be old, not stored properly and therefore will have poor results.
- Bowl and spatula/spoon (any will do, but plastic, rubber or other porous materials may stain permanently)
- Water (Distilled or purified water is reliable)
- Cling wrap
- Cake decorating bag or durable sandwich bag
- Henna powder (I use certified organic Suraja brand, though any of the freshest crops sold by a reputable henna artist should work great)
- Essential oil (I use organic Nepali cajeput. Tea tree, high altitude lavender and frankincense all work well too.)
- Sugar (I prefer organic cane sugar)
- Applicator (rolled cones or squeeze bottles)
STEP 1 - Add these to your bowl: 25 grams henna powder (approx 1/4 cup), 1.5 tsp sugar, 1.5 tsp essential oil and about 1/4 cup water. Mix together well. The paste should be pretty thick but all ingredients blended thoroughly. Don't worry about small lumps, those will mostly dissolve later.
STEP 2 - Cover with cling wrap. You don't have to be too careful about it - the idea is just to keep the henna from drying out. Now, let it sit! If you keep it a warm (not hot) location such as the top of your fridge or under a stove light, it will be ready in about 3-4 hours. It will take a bit longer in a cooler spot (sometimes I'll just leave it overnight). (Note: 3-4 hours is typical for a Rajasthani henna like my Suraja powder. If you're using Jamila brand, it may take a little longer.)
STEP 3 - Check to see if it's ready with simple spot test. Dab a bit of henna on your fingertip and leave it there for about a minute. When you wipe it away, in natural light it should be bright orange. If it's not, let it sit a bit longer and test it again in another hour.
STEP 4 - Time to get it to the perfect consistency! Add a little water to the mixture, and stir it up really well. Continue to add water, a little at a time, with lots of mixing between each addition. More mixing = silkier paste! With practice, you'll get a feel for how thin you prefer your henna.
STEP 5 - Scoop your silky henna paste into a cake decorating bag or sandwich bag. Then, snip the tip and fill your applicators. If you're using cones, fill them no higher than about 2/3 full to prevent messes. Seal your cones securely with tape, and you're ready to go! (I also have more detailed instructions and a video here)
Freeze the henna you aren't using right away to keep it fresh for several months. For best results, store in a Ziploc freezer bag in the back of the freezer.
The basics are easy. Learning how to get the consistency just right takes a little time and practice - but that's how all the best things happen, right?
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial! How did this work for you?