Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Henna de-mystified

I LOVE having henna on my fingers. I just don't know why but I've found out that I'm fascinated by having colors on my fingers, pretty, bright, reddish-orang-ey color, on my fingers. I remember I first saw henna being applied on fingers when I was small, around maybe 6 or 7 years old, on someone's fingers, she was about to be married the next day. I think it was my cousin's wedding. I sat next to her the whole time the henna was applied.

They made alot of henna paste so after the bride-to-be's fingers and toes are all covered, there was a lot of leftover. When they asked around who wants the henna, I kept quiet but did not move. I was a very shy girl, so only when they asked me "Nak pakai inai ke?" that I nodded and smiled. In the morning I was so excited to see my fingers! They suddenly looked so lovely and lively to me for some weird reason. My love for henna started right there and then. I got so excited about it that I bragged about it at school a week after haha. 

Now this post is not going to be about going down the memory lane. I meant to show you how it's being prepared. Everytime I apply henna, there will be at least one non-malay, non-indian who will ask me about it. So for that purpose, my mission is also to answer their questions in this post.

First off, henna (or inai in malay) is not a nail color. You can't wash it off with a nail color remover, and it only comes in 1 natural color - bright deep orange. How long does it stay on your fingers? Well the color on your skin will fade off in 2 weeks, the color on the finger nails will stay. The only way to remove it is to wait for your nails to grow it out. Or you can just apply a nail color on top of it. I have a pretty long nails so the henna on my nails is visible for about 3 months.

Why do I apply henna? It is for fun, and simply because I love it. I'm not aware of any medical benefit to it, I just simple love it :) 

I always have henna on my left hand, only on those 5 fingers. Then I get more questions. I don't know the answer to that. It's a matter of habit and preference I guess.

For the malays (and pretty sure the indians too but I speak for the malays as I am one), henna is only applied on the bride-to-be's, on all 10 fingers and 10 toes. I think it's just an old tradition that we still practice. I don't know the origin of the practice - I speculate it's to indicate which one is the bride and for general pretti-ness :p

How henna is made? Well basically you pick some henna leaves and mash them into a paste. 

Fresh henna leaves
Traditionally we use batu giling (millstone) to make the paste. I don't know if food processor or pestle and mortar can do it since I haven't tried that. I always giling the inai.

Drizzle some water and get ready to giling!

I don't put it rice or any other stuff like most people heard other people do.
I'm all organic - leaves and water!
 After about 10 minutes of giling, I get enough paste for 1 hand. Happee!

I can't go for another 10 minutes. The batu giling is super heavy.
Now applying it on the fingers needs some skills. Normally you would ask people to apply it for you. And they would wear plastic gloves. If you use your bare hand, you're going to get unflattering orange splotchy all over because henna can set pretty quick. These days I can apply henna on my own, using the back of a tea spoon. I clip my fingernails before applying.

The henna should cover the whole first of 1/3 of the fingers

Leave it on until the paste dries on its own, about 4 to 5 hours. When it dries it should be really dark brown. I leave it overnight but I make sure the paste is no longer wet on the surface so I don't accidentally touch my face in my sleep and wake up a clown. Not that it has happened before, just a note of caution.

In the morning, peel off the dried paste. Wash it off with water if it helps.


Rich red brown
At this point the color is so nice and even. After a day it is going to darken around the fingers where the skin is thicker. So it won't be as even anymore. That's the only part of organic henna that I don't like but I still love it since it won't be so visible on my fingers.

So there you have it - I hope the post helps answer some questions around henna.

Till later, take care.


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  2. I can see that the result of mehndi has come on your hand and is very good on your hand. very nice post.

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  3. Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success.
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