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March Mehndi Madness 2007

Darcy of the Henna Lounge hosted a wonderful weekend of henna, Indian food, craftmaking and crude jokes!

See more photos here and here.

Now Serving Reno/Tahoe

After several months hiatus from the internet, I’m back with the news that I’ve moved home from San Francisco to Reno! The main Web site is also up with basic pricing info, contact info, etc.
Here’s a bit of what I’ve been doing lately, with promises of more to come!


Summer festivals and some leaky glitter poofers have reintroduced me to the joy of sparkles!
I like having glitter poofers for festivals because it breaks up the monotony of eight hours of squirting green goop on people. It gives me a reason not to hate my less favorite festival designs (because who can dislike glitter?). I think it also adds value to designs, which is integral for those tiny kanji or horoscope signs people want that barely meet the minimum design dollar amount.
This particular design is from Darcy’s Indo-Arabian e-book. The glitter was kind of a mistake — I meant to sprinkle a little bit on, but I hadn’t used the blue glitter poofer from Amerikan Body Art yet, so I didn’t know that the particular bottle was “looser” than the other bottles of glitter I ordered. After dumping a large amount at the tip of the design, I figured, why the heck not completely glitterize it?? It certainly goes well with jeans!

Paste consistency, and pretty cones

I’m experimenting with different henna recipes to get a consistently good consistency for doing designs — not so dry that it immediately cracks, not so sugary that the design flattens out and bleeds like a bad batch of cookies, not so thin that it just dribbles down the skin.

Last night I mixed the following recipe:

  • 5 teaspoons powder (scooped and leveled off with a knife)
  • 5 teaspoons chai tea, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon essential oils (mostly terping oils, but with some fragrant oils too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

I tried it out immediately after mixing, straining, and coning it and was able to do a beautifully delicate design:


Unfortunately it won’t stain because the henna didn’t have time to set, thus there was little to no dye release. 🙂 I coned it and left it out overnight, and popped it into the refrigerator this morning before work. I’ll test the staining power of it tonight sometime.

For a sealant, I nuked a bit of lemon juice, sugar, and honey in the microwave, stirred it up, and dabbed it on with a paper towel. That stuff did NOT want to come off in the morning! Nor did any of it flake off in the tissue I wrapped it in.

After I get this straight, I’m going to experiment with using molasses instead of honey, making my henna vegan.

Also, I found out that these oversize holographic origami papers from Japantown make awesome cones:


In other news, be on the lookout in the next couple weeks for the launch of my new henna site, HandfulofHenna.com! My ultimate goal is to integrate this blog and gallery into the new site using Moveable Type, adding sections for articles, recipes, designs, and booking information should you need a Bay Area henna artist. 😉 I promise to dedicate an entire section to henna hair care with photos and summaries of the experiments I blogged here in the past year or so.

Thanks, and happy hennaing!

Challenging the norm

A lot of interesting things have been going on in my blogging absence! Here’s an attempt to keep you guys up to speed.

The UK-based henna artist Cat Hinton, who has a background in biology, is running a series of henna experiments that challenge the Western notion that lemon is the ideal liquid for henna mixes. She hypothesizes that lemon juice inhibits enzymes from breaking down plant cell walls. The dye in henna, lawsone, is in a plant cell wall. So, lemon juice might actually inhibit staining, rather than make it darker and better. Her experiments deal with lemon juice vs. papaya and pineapple juice, two fruits that have an abundance of enzymes. The nitty-gritty comes to this: Henna Tribe artists are discovering that mixes with plain water stain way better than lemon mixes.

For those of you who find tap water less than romantic, try substituting plain water for your favorite tea. You may need to add more sugar to your mix, because lemon juice has a certain amount of fructose that makes a lemon mix need less sugar for the right consistency than a water mix — around a tablespoon or two per 100 grams of henna, as estimated by Henna Lounge artist Darcy Vasudev. And don’t forget your terps!

In the world of henna for hair, results are similar. I’ve pared down my henna for hair recipe to henna mixed with hot chamomile tea. (You can also use hot liquid in your mehndi mixes if you want to use them sooner rather than later.) I also learned that there’s no need to shampoo it out. Henna is a natural cleanser and conditioner for hair. Drawing a bath and soaking it out is a wonderfully relaxing experience, and leaves your hair clean and silky-soft. (You may have to scrub your tub with some baking soda to get any residual henna stains out, but don’t worry — it won’t permanently stain your tub.) No conditioner is needed, either.

However, if you do want to condition your hair, a few drops of oil (olive, coconut, or a hair oil like Weleda’s rosemary hair oil), you just need a drop or two combed through your wet hair. For a deep conditioning treatment, saturate your hair with oil, wrap with a scarf, leave on overnight, and wash out in the morning. (Beware that coconut oil starts to smell sour after 5-10 minutes; if it bothers you, you might want to use a different oil.)

I should be doing more henna as spring and summer come into full-force, so look for more updates soon. Until then, happy hennaing!

Happy New Year!

Things have been quiet lately here — I haven’t done much henna since Thanksgiving. 🙁

Today things were extremely slow at work because all of our clients skipped out early for the three-day weekend, so we had nothing to do. I had a couple old cones and lemons in the fridge there, and some design ebooks on my flash drive, so I sat down and started doing henna on whoever wanted some.


I started with the boys, ironically. My good friend told me just to doodle (and requested Spiderman’s face after I outlined the Moroccan frame — so I gave him a spider in a spider web). I unfortunately didn’t get pictures of the two scorpions I did. They turned out rather well.

Then I did the ladies. We had a heart with my coworker’s son’s initials in it, and a racy little flower just below my other coworker’s collarbone. I also did some designs from Amira‘s books on myself, one of my other good friends, and a coworker’s girlfriend.


Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody’s stains are going to be that great. Those cones had been sitting in the fridge at work for over a week, and prior to that they went to St. Maarten and back without ice packs. I know it’s not totally dead though, so hopefully with good aftercare, everybody will enjoy their henna!

Thanksgiving henna

Wow, have I been busy lately! However, on Thanksgiving I made it a point to meet up with a good friend and henna the hell out of her. 🙂 Thank you Rebecca for being such a willing canvas, and for sending me your after-pics:



She reports that the stain got even darker the next day. It’s all about the aftercare — congratulations on taking good care of your henna!

She chose the designs from some of Amira‘s books that I brought along. I also recently bought Lezard‘s first (and much-acclaimed) book, which is amazing — it has a lot of Asian elements that I’ve been wanting to eventually integrate into henna designs.

I did a festive little flower design from Lezard’s book for myself for Thanksgiving:


And Darcy was sweet enough to invite me to a Henna Happy Hour at her place the Friday before Thanksgiving, where she created this beautiful & fabulous design on my right hand for me (I love you, Darcy!):


So that pretty much sums up the last half of my November. I’m hoping to do some more henna before my upcoming trip to St. Maarten to visit my brother (I can’t pass up the chance to show off some henna’d skin in a climate warm enough to show skin!), and then perhaps more for Christmas, despite my relatives’ misgivings. My grandma actually thought my Thanksgiving henna was a permanent tattoo. O_o; And no telling what was going through everybody else’s heads… they all just pretended it wasn’t there.

In any case, Happy Holidays everybody! I hope to share more with you soon!

Left-handed compliments


Check it out!! I can henna ambidexterously! I can also take photos without using my hands. Freaky, huh?

I also think it’s freaky how weird and elephant-wrinkly my hands look at that angle.

Design from Amira‘s Indo-Arabic Bridal book (which is quite nearly brand-new).

Re: Henna and Holidays

Note: Comments on this entry have been disabled due to spam posts.

Thanks to Khadija for clarifying some misunderstandings I had about Eid Al Fitr! The post has since been fixed. And she also told me about another big holiday coming up around December 31st (depending on the phase of the moon, as the Islamic calendar is lunar, not solar as is the western calendar): Eid Al Adha. So mark your calendars! If you didn’t have a good reason to gussy up and do some henna before, then that would be the perfect time to! About.com has some decent articles on Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha if you’d like to learn more.

Henna & Holidays


Here’s one of three designs my arms are currently covered with, inspired by some ebooks I got from Amira over at Henna Spirit. This one is actually two I took out of her African designs book and adapted for my hand (one was originally for a foot). I’ll have photos of the other two tomorrow, hopefully — I have paste-on photos, but I want final-stain photos to show you (though my stain wasn’t too great this time around). I even did one left-handed, and it turned out really well. As Darcy says, being able to do henna ambidexterously doubles your canvas space!

This week was a pretty busy henna week around the world. Diwali and Eid al Fitr were this week — both are pretty big festivals where henna is much sought-after. If I’m not mistaken, Diwali brings in the new year, characterized by everybody lighting tons of little lamps, wearing new clothes, and getting each other gifts, especially silver. Eid al Fitr is a feast celebrating the end of Ramadan. (Many thanks to Khadija for clarifying that for me!)

This week was also Day of the Dead and Halloween. So, happy multiple multicultural holidays, everybody!