When you say “tattoo”, one of the things that people think about is how permanent they are. Aside from the notion that tattoos are a sign of rebellious behavior, permanent tattoos are more painful to have since they make use of needles to puncture the skin with dye.
So if you want a tattoo, but are afraid of the permanence and the pain, then you might want to try a henna tattoo.
What are Henna Tattoos?
The word “henna” has a lot of meanings. First, it is a plant, the henna tree, that is used by the Egyptians to dye their skin and their hair. Second, henna is a form of body art wherein the dye is applied to the skin to create images. Hence the phrase henna tattoo.
The dye you get from the henna tree can be used to color a lot of things and body parts. It can be used as a hair dye, like nail polish, and even as coloring for certain fabrics.
History of Henna Tattoos
It is known that henna tattoos were first used in Asia. Several accounts point to Ancient Egypt as the first civilization that used henna for body art. It is said that Cleopatra dyed her hair and had people paint her body with henna.
Nonetheless, there are also accounts where henna was used as a cooling agent for people in the desert or for people who cross it. If you aren’t aware of it yet, henna gives a cooling sensation when it is applied on the body. People who cross the desert often cover their arms, legs, and feet with henna so that they don’t get burned from the heat of the sand and sun.
The Two Types of Henna
There are two types of henna, namely, orange natural henna and black henna.
- Orange Natural Henna
Taken from its name, orange natural henna is 100% natural. It came directly from the henna tree. It takes a brownish color or even a dark green color when it is applied on the hair or other body parts. It will take at least two days before the color turns black on your skin or on your hair. But the good side to this is that there are no chemicals in orange natural henna and it does not leave a smell.
- Black Henna
On the other hand, black henna is the artificial dye used in tattoos and coloring. Black henna is made from chemicals and it is often stronger on human hair. This is why a lot of people realize that they are allergic to hair color. To add to that, black henna, when applied is already black. You don’t need to wait for a few days for it to change color. It is already black the moment you apply it.
How Long Do Henna Tattoos Last?
One of the traits henna tattoos are known for is its temporariness. If people aren’t ready to commit to a permanent tattoo, they go for a henna just to know how it feels. But how long do henna tattoos last?
On average, a henna tattoo lasts from 1-3 weeks. However, there are several factors that affect how long it will be on your skin. One of the main factors is your skin chemistry.
Factors That Affect How Long Henna Tattoos Last
- Skin Thickness
Depending on the thickness of your skin, the time your henna tattoo will last changes. Thinner skin only keeps henna tattoos for 1-2 weeks and 2 weeks is already rare. For thicker skin, it can last from 2-4 weeks.
- Location of the Tattoo
The location of the tattoo matters because it is often linked to how often you wash those body parts. For example, tattoos placed on your hands are easier to wash away because you always wash your hands and they get exposed to air and dust. On the other hand, those body parts that are almost always hidden, like the belly or the back, can make henna tattoos last longer.
- Tattoo Duration
Tattoo duration means how long the tattoo paste was left on your skin before it was applied with other products or mixtures. The process of henna tattoo usually starts when the henna (in the form of powder) is mixed with other mixtures to bring out the color of the dye. After these are mixed, they are applied to the skin using a stick, a Myclar cone, and other tools. They are then left alone to dry for a few hours.
The longer they are left to dry, the longer they will stay on the skin. During this time, the dye’s molecules bond with your skin’s so they stick together making them harder to separate.
- Added Mixtures
Depending on the mixture added by the tattoo artist, your henna tattoo can last from 1 week to 1 month. Mixtures like sugar water or lemon water can help make the dye mix better with the molecules on your skin. Moreover, more applications of these mixtures can help make the tattoo look better.
Why You Should Consider Getting a Henna Tattoo
Aside from being a form of dye, henna is also known to be a temporary alternative to permanent tattoos. Here are some reasons why you should consider henna if you are hesitating of getting permanently inked.
One of the best things about getting a henna tattoo is that it’s temporary but not too temporary at the same time. If you aren’t comfortable with the thought of having a tattoo for a lifetime and that it doesn’t look beautiful when your skin starts to sag, then a henna tattoo is a good alternative for your tattoo inclination.
When you get a henna tattoo, the longest time you’ll have one is a month and this time frame is not too short for you to feel that it’s just a very temporary decoration that will be removed after a few washes. You can feel a bit of permanence and even appreciate it more since you know it’s not going to be there forever.
It’s Not Painful
If you’ve read the process of henna tattoos above, then you probably know that henna tattoos are not painful. They don’t involve needles or pricking, and they don’t have bleeding as a side effect (except when you are allergic to the henna dye). As compared to a permanent tattoo, the health risks are a lot less with henna. You don’t even have to think of your own pain tolerance.
If you will use the orange natural henna, then you will be using a natural dye on your skin. Using an organic product will save you a lot of chemical reactions. Although you can also use the black henna, some people prefer organic dyes because they are a lot safer and gentler to the skin, hair, and nails.
It’s a Lot More Affordable
Even if you get a large henna tattoo, you will not end up spending as much as you would when you get a permanent tattoo. There are tattoo studios that offer henna tattoos for only $10. Of course, this will still depend on the size of the tattoo and how detailed it will be. But if you plan on getting simple designs that are not bigger than your hand, then you will still be able to afford getting a henna tattoo.
It Allow for More Flexibility
Unlike a permanent tattoo where you have to get the design right because you will not have a chance to revise it later on, a henna tattoo is quite flexible. Although you have to wait for a few weeks for the errors to be removed, you don’t have to pressure yourself too hard when getting the design right. To add to that, you can also have several revisions as you go. Frequent visits to the tattoo artist are also recommended if you feel that there is something you want added to the tattoo design.
You Can Also Be Creative
Just because it’s henna doesn’t mean that you are limited to using simple shapes and images. Henna tattoos are very extensive and you can choose any design under the sky. The same skill level is needed when it comes to henna tattoo artists. Designs range from simple shapes to even very intricate designs.
The Most Popular Henna Tattoo Designs
Speaking of design, there are a lot of henna tattoo designs you can choose from. Here are some of the most popular designs men and women get.
A dream catcher is a common tattoo design that is used by a lot of women. It is said that dream catchers are objects that hold dreams, whether they are good or bad. The good dreams are said to travel through the whole circle down the feathers so that they can go to the person who sleeps while the bad dreams are trapped inside the dream catcher.
Birds, when taken individually, can have different meanings. But they also have general symbolisms like freedom and courage.
Birds are often associated with freedom because birds taking flight is similar to the feeling people get when they are about to run away or escape from something. The feeling of liberation is perfectly depicted by the flight of birds. On the other hand, it can also show courage. Small birds, while they are young, are taught to fly. And for people who have been courageous and independent as a kid can find solace in the flight of young birds.
Flowers are one of the most beautiful designs you can have as a henna tattoo. Aside from combining it with vines that creep up on your body, flower designs are very diverse. There are a lot of flowers to choose from and depending on the flower, you get to attach different meanings.
One of the meanings of flowers is innocence. In terms of childhood, flowers are used to depict a girl’s innocence. It can also mean a “yes” or a positive answer to something. To add to that, the meaning of the flower changes depending on the color of the flower you choose. However, you aren’t able to do that with henna tattoos.
The sun is one of the symbols that have very diverse meanings. Depending on the culture, the sun can either be a symbol of life, strength, and power. In Christianity, the sun can also symbolize Jesus Christ.
The sun is known as a great star that shines above humanity. Without the sun, life will definitely cease to exist on the earth. This is why some people make use of the sun to symbolize life. For those with strong personalities, a sun is an apt depiction of their extroversion, frankness, and adventurous spirit.
The sun is not the only cosmic object that people fancy when it comes to getting a tattoo. The moon is often the opposite of what the sun symbolizes, however, it’s a good thing that it does not depict the opposite of life.
The Sun and Moon combination is often used by couples wherein they show very different personalities. These two images also show balance and taking turns when it comes to being the light of the earth. In people’s cases, it can be their families they shed light on.
Creepers, or vines, is a popular design for a henna tattoo. In fact, some cultures make use of creeper designs to describe and show their tradition and values. Of all henna tattoo designs, this is the most common because this is the design common among Asian countries where henna tattoos were said to have come from.
There are many other henna tattoo designs to choose from. Save for their temporariness, they can do the same designs that are used on permanent tattoos.
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How to Take Care of Your New Henna
Henna tattoos are like permanent tattoos in terms of aftercare. However, unlike permanent tattoos, henna needs to have drying time. Follow these steps to make sure you don’t ruin your new tattoo.
- Let the henna dry.
Think of it as body paint. The henna tattoo should be dried and set before you clean it or touch it. After the tattoo design is done (or even when the session is ongoing), keep the tattoo away from anything that can ruin it like stray hair, dust, clothes, etc. For most dyes, it will dry after 10 minutes, but to be on the safe side, wait for a good 30 minutes to make sure the whole tattoo is dry. Remember, the longer it is set, the longer it will stay on your skin.
- Apply a mixture of sugar or lemon juice.
During the drying process, you can apply a mixture of sugar and water or lemon juice. These mixtures will help make the dye bond more with your skin. This will also make the dye look darker faster than waiting for a few days. The acidity of the lemon will make the color darker while the water will seal the design in place. Be careful not to put a huge amount of this mixture. Just apply a few drops and spread it lightly all over the tattoo.
- Cover the henna tattoo.
After applying moisture, the next thing you should do is to cover your tattoo. This is important if the tattoo will be covered by clothes and there is a high chance for it to be damaged. Covering the tattoo will preserve it while the dye hasn’t bonded too strongly with your skin yet. However, if you think it will not be touched by clothes or by your hair, then you can leave your tattoo to air dry. Just keep in mind that you should not touch it or scratch it.
- Remove the flakes.
When it starts to dry, you’ll notice that the henna tattoo will start to flake. Don’t worry, this is only natural. The excess dye will start to chip off. What you should do when you notice this is wash the tattoo gently. Use lukewarm water and soap and don’t scrub your skin. Just wash the flakes away. If it’s too difficult, you can use a toothpick to remove the excess once your skin is dry.
- Constantly moisturize.
To make your henna tattoo last longer, constantly apply moisturizing lotion every day. This will prevent your tattoo from peeling off and getting discolored. This will also keep your skin smooth and soft even when there’s a tattoo placed on it. But you have to remember that even if you put moisturizing lotion, a henna tattoo will not last for more than a month.
Henna tattoos are beautiful and they give you a feel of what it’s like to have a permanent tattoo without it being too temporary. A henna tattoo has a lot of advantages especially when you use the natural orange tattoo. Even though it has a reddish-orange color at the start, the color will turn black after a few days. But if you feel that you want something more permanent, then, a permanent tattoo could be the best option for you.