This festival season, I had some beautiful mehendi (otherwise known as henna) applied to my arms and legs. What a treat! I really didn’t like my mehendi at our wedding, it looked awful, so I did everything I could to get the stuff of as soon as possible (this involved scrubbing it with salt and washing my skin almost immediately).
However, this time I wanted my mehendi to be as dark and long lasting as possible. After sitting for almost three hours getting it done, I was going to look after this mehendi!
There are many superstitions about mehendi, the most popular being ‘the darker the mehendi, the more your husband will love you’. Obviously you shouldn’t sit watching your mehendi stain with great anticipation and expect to see how much your husband will love you. I am guessing that this superstition developed as a way for girls who have an arranged marriage to get an indication of how much this boy will love her.
Of course it’s just a superstition, even when we know that the colour of our mehendi doesn’t have any relation to anything except the way we took care of it, like with all superstitions there is still a small part of us can’t help but take it seriously. I know that I won’t have bad luck if I step on the small cracks in the pavement (a common Western superstition), but I still avoid those cracks!
So, even though we don’t believe in superstitions, here are some tips for dark and long lasting mehendi (you know, just in case)
9 tips for dark & long lasting mehendi…
- Make sure your skin is clean, without traces of oils, lotions or potions. Products will create a barrier between your skin and your mehendi.
- Visit the toilet before you begin (this probably won’t make your mehendi darker, it’s just tricky to visit the restroom once you’re in the middle of the application)
- Once the paste is applied, it will dry quickly. To keep it moist and avoid cracks in your design, carefully dab lemon juice or sugar water (dissolve sugar in warm water) on the paste with cotton wool.
- Leave the paste on for as long as possible, ideally for six hours or more.
- Heat helps the colour develop, so keep warm (which isn’t difficult if you live in India!).
- Once the paste has been rubbed off, apply vicks vapour rub or beesbax balm all over your design. This helps the colour develop from bright orange to deep red.
- Make sure everyone knows that you are exempt from housework of any kind for twenty four hours (or as longer if possible, see what you can get away with).
- Don’t bathe for twenty four hours, this one can be tricky, especially if you are stinky, so try and have a bath just before your mehendi is applied. You simply cannot get your mehendi wet, I was caught in a monsoon just after I rubbed off my paste, so I had to frantically run home!
- When you finally do have a wash because you cannot stand your own stench any longer, apply Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to your design for protection.
After doing all the above, here was my result:
Not only did my henna become really dark, it was ten days before it started to fade (with the exception of my hands because had to start washing, cooking and cleaning)
Do you have more tips? Do you know any other mehendi related supersitions?