Why do we use what we use? What is a "terp" anyway? Do I really have to use lemon juice? Why can't I use hair henna?

When you use the best ingredients, you get the best results. 

 

Essential Oils

 

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How Much Oil to Use in Henna Paste

The standard guideline for essential oil in henna paste is:

  • 100 gram box/pouch of henna requires 1 ounce / 30mls Essential Oil
  • 20 grams henna (1/4 cup) requires 1.5 drams (1.5 teaspoons) Essential Oil 

 

*75% of this oil should be a Terp oil for maximum effectiveness

*Essential oils are NOT added for scent. They are an ACTIVE INGREDIENT in the henna paste. 

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ESSENTIAL OILS or "TERPS" 

These are what we call the main essential oils in the henna mix. “Terp’ is short for terpiniol. We use oils high in terpineols and mono-terpene alcohols for the best dye release and darkest, deepest henna stains.

 

Among the most effective and safest oils with high amounts of terpiniol are:

 

  • Cajeput, Melaleuca cajeputi
  • Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Bulgarian Lavender (High Altitude), Lavandula angustifolia
  • Naiouli, Melaleuca quinquenervia
  • Ravensara, Ravensara aromatica
  • Lavender 40/42, Lavandula Officinalis
 

 

 

 

SCENT ESSENTIAL OILS

These are oils that can be added in small amounts (25% or less) to your main ‘Terp’ oil to adjust the scent and create your own signature smell.

The scent of your henna paste can be adjusted by adding a few drops of other types of oils in addition to your main ‘terp’. 

Below are essential oils that are safe to use and will not inhibit your dye release and stain. Among the most effective and safest oils with high amounts of terpiniol and scents that blend well with the main TERP oils are:

  • Cardamom
  • Cedar Wood
  • Clove Bud
  • Cypress
  • Cypress Tips
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Geranium Bourbon
  • Juniper
  • Lemongrass
  • Marjoram
  • Sweet or Wild Orange (Cold Pressed)
  • Neroli
  • Palmarosa
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Scotch Pine
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
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Essential Oil Safety and Cautions

  • Never Apply Essential Oils Directly to skin
  • Always dilute in henna paste
  • Be educated on the types of oils you use

 

PREGNANCY, BREAST-FEEDING, CHILDREN, MEDICAL CLIENTS

For applications used during pregnancy or on children, and medical clients (cancer patients, etc) only Bulgarian or French Lavender essential oils should be used (Lavandula Angustifolia).

 

  Rosemary and Cedar Wood should never be used during pregnancy. There are essential oils that can cause serious damage during pregnancy, even induce miscarriage, it is important to be aware of the health risks of any oils you intend to use on clients.

 

Mustard oil, large amounts of Clove oil and “mehandi” or “mehndi” oils should be avoided.

Mustard and Clove oils can cause fairly serious burns to the skin. 

Clove BUD oil is safe to use in small amounts when diluted in the henna paste

 

Mehendi Oil = Toxic Additives and Mystery Ingredients

This is most often an oil blend manufactured in India and imported. There is no such thing as essential oil from the henna/mehndi plant. This is an industrial blend of low quality. The ingredient list is often missing or fabricated. It commonly included kerosene, gasoline, benzene and a variety of other mystery ingredients. This is NEVER recommended and should not be used.

 

Do NOT ever use: Kerosene, gasoline, acetone, lighter fluid, turpentine, paint thinner, urine, urea, ammonia, mustard oil, Walnut or Black Walnut powder/extract, Grapefruit Juice/Oil, Lime juice/Oil, Lemon Oil, Bergamot Oil. These ingredients can cause serious injury.

 

 

Grapefruit Juice/Oil, Lime Juice Oil, Lemon Oil, Bergamot Oil

These oils all cause photo-toxic reactions and should NEVER be used in henna paste. When applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight 3rd degree burns can result.

*Bergaptene free Bergamot Essential Oil is SAFE to use as the chemical that causes photo-toxic reactions has been removed.

* Grapefruit Oil and Juice interferes with many heart medications, are photo-toxic and should never be used.

 

What about Eucalyptus Oil?

It should be avoided on children under 10 years of age, during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Eucalyptus comes in over 700 varieties and there are multiple type of Eucalyptus essential oils available. The variety is often not indicated and it can be hit or miss in terms of effectiveness for henna. Some varieties work well for henna and some do not. 

We find that Cajeput, Tea Tree, and Niaouli oils (which are in the same family as eucalyptus) are SAFER, more effective and have higher percentages of terpenes and mono-terpene alcohols. 

We do not recommend eucalyptus as a reliable or generally safe essential oil for henna paste.

  

NEVER apply essentials oils directly to the skin. 

It DOES NOT create a better henna stain, and is not considered a safe practice and may cause injury or burns.

 

Essential Oils can be extremely harsh and can cause injury, in addition many oils are not safe to use during pregnancy. Many essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin, should be used for external use only, and kept out of eyes.

Please be aware of the risks and warnings for all of the oils you are experimenting with. Consult a book on essential oils or talk with your supplier and/or physician directly if you have any concerns. If you’ll be working with the public it is in your best interest to be well educated on the dangers and safety of your oils.

 

 

VEGETABLE OILS

Olive, corn, Wesson oil, apricot, grape seed, almond oil, baby oil, jojoba, cocoa butter, shea butter, or mango butter will not contribute to dye release and should not be used in the henna mix or on the skin prior to application. 

 Vegetable oils may be helpful if applied before bathing or swimming to protect the stain.

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We recommend these excellent essential oil resources

 

Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals Book by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young

Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Book by Julia Lawless

 

Liquids in the Henna Mix

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LIQUIDS IN THE HENNA

When using any type of dye a second ingredient is needed to create the chemical reaction to release the dye molecule. Henna requires an acid to break down the dye molecule contained within its leaves. When using only lemon juice and a high quality fresh henna powder you can achieve medium colored stains.

 

Bottled or fresh lemon juice is the perfect companion to henna as it is very acidic, reliable, readily available, affordable, and is perfectly safe. It makes no difference in the final outcome if you use fresh or bottled juice. Bits of seeds, pith, and other particles from fresh squeezed lemons will clog tips of cones and jacquard bottles so be sure to pass it through a sieve, tea strainer, or stocking before you pour it into your henna powder.

 

Determining exact amounts of lemon juice required for henna paste is difficult since henna plants are grown in many different regions of the world. Depending on the location, weather, and time of year that the leaves are harvested the recipe will need varying amounts of lemon juice. Your local climate can lead to further variations in the amount of liquid your powder will need.

 

Water, Tea, Coffee are used by many artists but are not a Henna Caravan favorite. If your region has water that is heavily treated with fluoride, formaldehyde or chlorine it can inhibit the dye release and staining ability.

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There are 2 main groups of thoughts as to the best liquid for henna pastes, WATER verses LEMON JUICE.

In the most recent tests we have participated in we have experienced a longer and richer stain from mixes with lemon juice. Lemon juice out performed water, tea and vinegar. The lemon juice mix has more natural sugars in the juice than plain water and we prefer the consistency from those added sugars. Lemon juice mixes take longer to be ready to be use, around 24 hours, but have a longer more reliable life span.

Water can yield a great henna paste, however variations in regional tap water treatments can greatly alter the stain outcome. Chlorine, formaldehyde and other water treatments can cause some issues. Water mixes can be ready more quickly, in as little at 4-8 hours, but may not last quite as long in paste form.

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AVOID Orange juice, Lime juice or Grapefruit juice, they are too harsh for use on skin and can cause photo-toxic burns when applied in the sun. 

Vinegar can be too acidic – it smells horrid, too!

Coffee or Tea are basically water recipes and are not necessary or helpful. We don't recommend adding tea or coffee as sensitive individuals may be affected by the caffeine, but mostly, they don't impart ANY added color. 

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 Stick with either lemon juice or water mixes

A simple mix is always easier to troubleshoot and limits allergy risk for clients. There's no benefit to mixing different liquids or adding tea/coffee.

 

Sweeteners in the Henna Mix

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SWEETENERS

The sweeteners or saccharides help the paste adhere to the skin and retain moisture. It will alter the consistency of the paste making it silky and smooth and can create a stringier and more flexible texture. 

 

If you live in a very arid/dry location or if you notice the henna paste dries and cracks off the body very quickly increase the amount of sweetener used. This will help to increase moisture and adherence to the skin and increase flexibility of the paste.

 

If you live in a very humid location, if you notice that the henna paste is not drying or tends to melt and become gooey, lower the ratio of sweetener.

 

Sugar, jaggery, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, or sweet and low are all easy to use and very reliable sweeteners to include in your mix. 

 

Molasses can be but is a bit tricky to work with and harder to adjust than the powdered type sweeteners. Pastes with Molasses may change consistency in the freezer/defrost .

 

Honey creates a chemical reaction producing peroxide which is a bleaching agent. Pastes made with honey change the most in freezing/defrost. Honey is not recommended.

 

Fancy Ingredients in the Henna Mix

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EXOTIC, ROMANTIC INGREDIENTS

There are many wonderful and exotic ingredients that may be added to a henna paste.

None of these extra ingredients will make a significant difference in the staining power of your paste but they may be interesting to experiment with.  These extra ingredients may shift the smell or consistency but cannot revive stale or mediocre henna powder, nor should they replace the four key ingredients; henna powder, lemon juice/water, sugar, essential oils. 

 

coffee, espresso, tea, red wine, rehydrated dried limes, Coca-Cola, vinegar, rose water, orange water, grape juice, berry juice, beet juice, grenadine, honey, molasses, maple syrup, citric acid, tamarind, okra, pomegranate, fenugreek, cardamom, dried limes, dried lemons, black pepper, hot peppers, garlic, beets, berries 

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DO NOT EVER USE kerosene, gasoline, acetone, lighter fluid, paint thinner, urine, urea, lye, ammonia, mustard oil, walnut or black walnut extract in your mixture, they can cause serious injury.

 

DO NOT EVER USE imported Mehndi Oil, Mehandi Oil, Shelly Oil or premade mass manufactured imported henna cones, emergency cones, etc.

Cinnamon and Clove oil can cause negative reactions or burn the skin if applied directly. These oils are best avoided or used very cautiously in small amounts diluted into the paste once you have 

researched their side effects and warnings. 

Mustard Oil is one of the most dangerous oils and should never be used in your mix.

 

Many “traditional” recipes will suggest using Eucalyptus essential oil. There are over 700 varieties of Eucalyptus and not all types have the suitable amount of mono terpene alcohols, choose your Eucalyptus carefully.

 

 

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