How To Get Dark & Long Lasting Mehendi (Henna)

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).

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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

mehendi henna mehndi art design

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.

Looking to buy henna cones online?… US, UK, India

After doing all the above, here was my result:

dark mehendi bridal

2 days after application

Four days after application

Four days after application

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)

Looking to buy henna cones online?… US, UK, India


Do you have more tips? Do you know any other mehendi related supersitions?


My Festival Mehendi

I was really upset when I didn’t have bridal mehendi (otherwise known as henna) when I was a bride back in April. Well, tomorrow there is a festival called Hartalika, celebrating marriage. It’s a little like Karva Chauth and as part of the celebrations, I’ve got my bridal mehendi, hooray. My grandparent in-law have arrived for the festival season, so my grandma, mother-in-law and I will be celebrating the festival together tomorrow.

I was absolutely delighted when my mother-in-law suggested bridal mehendi for this festival. Today, it took two guys nearly three hours to apply, my mehendi for our wedding took only twenty minutes. Poor Alfonso was missing cuddles from his mummy. He saw me and desperately tried to hug me but my mother-in-law held him back to protect the wet designs. Oh, he cried and cried, it broke my heart. Once the mehendi had dried, we had lots of cuddles and kisses.

mehendi henna mehndi art design mehendi henna mehndi art design

It has everything I wanted, a bride and groom on the palms, Lord Ganesh and some peacocks. Ornate and delicate. I think it is so beautiful, I cannot stop looking at it. The smell of the natural mehendi is really strong, this mehendi has come all the way from Rajasthan (the state which stole my husband for three weeks). The natural mehendi gives a beautiful deep orange stain.

Stay away from black mehendi, one of the artists told us about a women in Hyderabad had to have her arm chopped off after having synthetic mehendi applied!

mehendi henna mehndi art design

Wearing my traditional Maharashtrian crescent moon bindi

mehendi henna mehndi art design mehendi henna mehndi art design festival

I will write about the festival tomorrow (yes, I know, so many festivals lately), I am not really sure what’s involved yet so I will be going with the flow. All I do know is that the day starts with us women (grandma, mother-in-law and I) performing a pooja (prayer) together.

10 moments in India I wish I could have caught on camera

I haven’t taken as many photos as I wish I had, this has always been the case. I always regret not capturing those moments that just make my head spin or my heart flutter. The moments below were not caught on camera for various reason. For some of them I didn’t have a camera, others I was too in the moment to think of taking a photograph and many, many things simply cannot be captured on film.

A couple of husband related ones…

1. Meeting my husband in Mumbai Airport for the first time

The love I felt that day, in that moment, was immeasurable. I saw him through teary eyed exhaustion as he ran towards me in that crowded terminal at five in the morning. I was paralysed with relief as he hugged me, I was finally home in his arms. The pain and suffering I had to face during the months leading up to that moment had been so tough on my mind, body and soul, events I am not prepared to share on my blog. In his embrace, I came as close as I think I could ever come to feeling like a solider coming home from war.

2. The feeling when I became his wife

We exchanged marigold garlands inside the beautiful stone temple, it felt magical. My husband then applied sindoor to my forehead. I get goosebumps thinking about it even now. Just us and God, and we were united as husband and wife.

A few Indian weather related ones…

3. My first monsoon rain

I had never seen rain like it. Living in England my whole life, I had seen many different shades of rain; the misty rain that gets you surprisingly wet, the fast rain that stings your face, the rain that somehow comes up from the ground, the freezing cold down pours and those delightful April showers.

Never in my life had I experienced hot rain, hot powerful rain which smelt like flowers. I stood with the window open and let the rain fall on my face. Monsoon rains are spectacular.

4. The thunderstorm that lasted all night 

When I was a child, I was fascinated with Greek mythology. I would think that thunder was Zeus (Father of the Gods and God of the skies), sitting in the clouds in an angry rage (I also thought it rained when Zeus was sad), if that was the case, Zeus is livid in India.

I sat up all night watching my first Indian thunderstorm, the thunder was so loud it felt as if the room was shaking, the lightening lit up the whole room. I sat cross legged on my bed with the window open and watched the night sky light up, the lightening flying, it was as if Zeus had smashed the heavens with a sledge hammer. The dark blue nights sky crashed and was then scattered into pieces as the lightening tore through the sky.

5. Pink lightening

I had been sitting in the temple for longer than I had planned, the sun was now setting. The sky turned to shades of pink and purple and the air was thick. I looked down at my feet as I walked down the road, a flash of light made me look up. Cracks of lightening broke through the pink clouds, the wind started to pick up suddenly, I could feel the electricity in the air.  I made it home just before the rain fell.

Some divine moments…

6. Goddess Durga

The first temple I went to on my own was a Goddess Durga temple. We drive passed this particular temple most days, its always busy. I took off of my shoes and made my way to the marble steps, I held the threshold to my heart and rang the big brass bell. I was the only one in the temple, just me and the deities. I walked across the marble floor to the Goddess Durga idol and put my hands together. I looked into her eyes and everything else seemed to disappear. I felt peace wash over my body, as if the tide was coming in.

I left the temple feeling as light as a feather, as if I had white angel wings.

7. Hanuman and the mountain of grapes

I was waiting in our car as my husband when to the ATM to get some cash. I looked out of the window and saw a man pushing a cart down the road. A mountain of fresh green grapes were lying on the baby blue cart, shining in the sunlight. There were thousands of grapes, piled up so high. At the bottom of the huge pile of grapes sat a small statue of Lord Hanuman, in front of him a single large hibiscus flower, deep red, had been lovingly placed.

This instantly reminded me of the Ramayana. During the battle between Ravana (the demon-king who stole beautiful Sita) and Lord Ram (Sita’s husband), Lord Ram’s brother, Laxman, got hit with an arrow. The doctor told Lord Ram that Laxman could be saved it if smelt a herb called sanjivani“from the mountain Gandhamadan. Lord Hanuman instantly went to the mountain but he could not find the herb, instead he uprooted the entire mountain and brought it to Laxman.

The list would not be complete without a couple of holy cow memories

8. The white calf 

We have a whole herd of cows who live in our neighborhood, the shed where they sleep at night is only close by. I was lucky enough to see a beautiful sight, a small white calf with big, deep black and round eyes eating a wilted marigold garland. I have an affection for both cows and marigold garlands (after my marriage) so this sight put the biggest smile on my face.

9. The newborn calf 

Whilst walking to a boutique to get my bridal blouses stitched we passed a large chocolate brown cow lying down, relaxing. I looked again and saw the smallest calf I have ever seen, days old, she still had her umbilical cord dangling down. She stood so small, as close as she could be to her mother, she was the same chocolate brown colour.

…and finally something I did catch on camera but wish I had caught on film.

10. The Labrador on a moped

My husband and I were driving to the market to buy some fruit and vegetables. At first, it looked as if the uncle in front was carrying a white bag but then we noticed, the bag had a face!! The Labrador was looking around, enjoying the night sights of Nagpur, seemingly having a fabulous time!

dog on a moped funny India