Don't Get Your Henna Done Until You've Done This
Hey henna lovers! I feel like more often than not I receive a lot of questions about how to take care of henna after your designs are done, but rarely do people take the time to ask about what to do before their henna appointment.
Believe it or not, the things you do (and don't do) before your henna session are also important for maintaining a good stain for the days and weeks after your appointment. Today I'm going to share five easy tips to prepare for getting your henna done - and because I’m currently listening to none other than Beyonce herself, let’s run through this in full Bey fashion.
You ready? (*cue the Queen*)
In the simplest of terms, henna works by staining the top most layer of the skin. The top I
of your skin is covered with dead skin cells that essentially must be shed away to make space for new, healthy cells. Dead skin that has not been exfoliated may stain well; however, it also falls away from the body quickly. What's that mean to you? It means that if you haven’t properly exfoliated, then your henna is destined to last for a shorter amount of time than otherwise. In general, skin cells last between two to four weeks which provides you the possibility to maintain your henna stain for at least that long provided the henna is applied to a fresh, new layer of skin. My recommendation? Exfoliate your skin well using a gentle exfoliator three to four days prior to your appointment. I like to use a gentle sugar scrub or facial scrub on the areas that I intend to apply designs. Be careful not to over-exfoliate (sources say that it's not healthy for your skin) and be mindful not to exfoliate too close to the date of your appointment either.
2. WAX OR SHAVE
Now listen... This little tip is no shade to those of us who ascribe to or represent the peach fuzz everywhere persuasion, so let's just get that out of the way. However, as a henna artist I can firmly say that one of the most challenging parts of laying down smooth, flawless lines in my designs is when clients arrive with an abundance of body hair. Clean lines often are created using a technique called “draping” wherein henna artists apply designs without ever touching the cone to the skin. The problem with having a copious amount of body hair is that the henna lays on the hair itself instead of on the skin resulting in poor stains and wonky lines. If you choose to wax, I recommend doing it at least four days prior to your appointment as waxing also removes the top layer of skin (see tip numero uno above). Shaving is a little more forgiving and can be done the day before or even the day of your session. I'll leave you with this: Some artists carry disposable razors in their kits to gift to unprepared clients. Do you really want to be the person shaving it off in the bathroom of the local coffeeshop? Didn't think so...
Henna is a ritual of beautification, yes? What is one piece of advice that all beauty-based service providers agree on regardless of if they are doing hair, nails, or make up? Hydrate. By consuming an adequate amount of water, you'll be helping your body to complete it's daily functions in as optimal a manner possible. Hydrated skin cells are healthy, happy skin cells that will want to stick around longer - yielding longer lasting stains for you. People often ask me how I manage to maintain my stains for as long as I do, and this is my key secret. I aim to drink a gallon of water each day, if not more, and that really affects the longevity of my stains. Be sure to bring healthy skin to your session by hydrating well in the days leading up to it.
4. PLAN APPROPRIATELY
Please don't book your henna appointment before you go grocery shopping. Please don't think to get your henna done the day before wash day (#teamnatural), and please, for the love of all that is holy, do not schedule your henna session to be right before you visit your nail technician. I promise you, you will be disappointed. Any tasks that require the near exclusive attention of your hands should be planned for before you see your artist. Doubling back to those nails - I recommend getting your nails done a day or two prior to your henna appointment. Sometimes the salon products used on the skin for manicures are harsh and/or counter-intuitive for henna application. If you must get your nails done on the same day, be sure to pass on any lotions, skip on the hand massage (#sorry), and be sure to wash your hands well with soap and water before your polish is applied.
(Now you know there is no way I would ever be able to find a gif of Queen Bey representing ashy skin, right?)
5. GET ASHY
I saw you cringe, and yes, I'm serious. While you don't want to arrive at your henna session with cracked and crusty skin (which won't happen because you hydrated, of course!), you do want to forgo any moisturizers prior to your appointment. The application of heavy lotions, oils, butters, and creams can create a barrier between the skin and the henna paste which compromises the intensity of your stain. Wash all areas where your henna designs are to be applied with warm soap and water and dry the area thoroughly prior to your appointment. If you've used a particularly heavy cream (shea butter, I'm looking at you), then you may need to spritz the area with rubbing alcohol to remove the waxy barrier that is on the skin. You'll be able to moisturize your skin to your heart's content after your designs are completed, but for now, do like Elsa and let it go.
So there you have it, folks! Five helpful tips on how to prepare for your henna appointment - easy peasy! Follow these few tips and you'll quickly become your artist's favorite client (and love your stains afterwards, to boot)!
P.S. Want a quick guide to how to take care of your henna after your appointment? Click to download my free henna aftercare guide. :)
P.P.S. Want to reserve a henna session in the Baltimore area? Pop over to my booking site to see my calendar!