Fancy, exotic, romantic additions to henna...
There are many wonderful and exotic ingredients that may be added to a henna paste. Some may harken back to an old family recipe, some may be inspired by regional delicacies, some may just be what you have in the pantry or found at that interesting market you popped in to.
These extra ingredients will NOT make a significant difference in the staining power of your paste but they may be interesting to experiment. Scent and texture may be effected, but they cannot revive stale or mediocre henna powder, nor should they replace the four key ingredients; henna powder, lemon juice/water, sugar, essential oils. There's no need to re-invent the wheel but it can definitely be fun playing with fancy ingredients, enjoy your research!
Some fun liquids to experiment with: Apple juice, rose water, orange blossom water, hydrosols, red wine, tea, espresso or coffee, grape juice, berry juice, beet juice, tamarind, okra, soda pop, vinegar.
Sweeteners: grenadine, maple syrup, molasses, pomegranate syrup, and other granulated sugars. Keep in mind most sugars will act as liquids in the paste and thin it. Check out our blog about sugars for more info.
Other things, mainly for texture: tamarind paste, cardamom, fenugreek, citric acid (in place of lemon juice).
Please take our advice and skip the below ingredients. We want you to experiment safely and enjoy every part of your henna exploration. Not give yourself burns and scars. The below list of items has all been found in imported 'henna oil' and 'henna paste'.
DO NOT EVER USE kerosene, gasoline, acetone, benzene, lighter fluid, paint thinner, urine, urea, lye, ammonia, mustard oil, walnut or black walnut extract, aniline dyes, food coloring, etc in your mixture, they can cause serious injury, burns and breathing issues. All these ingredients have been found in mass produced henna cones (imported synthetic paste from India, Pakistan, Malaysia. It's easy to spot in it's bright, fancy, flashy packaging and often labeled 'instant', 'emergency', 'red' or 'maroon'.)
DO NOT EVER USE Mehndi Oil, Mehandi Oil, Shelly Oil or premade manufactured imported henna cones, emergency cones, etc. These imported 'oils' are often mis-labeled or not labeled at all. It's unclear what the ingredients usually are. but kerosene, gasoline, and benzene have been found in these oils.
DO NOT EVER USE imported henna paste cones.
NO IMPORTED, PREMIXED CONES ARE SAFE, EVER.
Many are even on the FDA search and seizure/destroy list. Natural Henna is perishable once mixed and must be used within several days or frozen to preserve the dye. ALL premixed henna paste stored on shelves has toxic additives.
The best rule of thumb is if it's a PASTE/GEL manufactured in India or Pakistan it is a synthetic henna and dangerous/toxic. Natural henna just doesn't last long enough once mixed to export, it is only goof for a week or so once mixed up.
ESSENTIAL OIL WARNINGS
Use only pure essential oils in your henna mix. Cajeput, Tea Tree, Naiouli, High Altitude Lavender are excellent and generally safe for most. Properly diluted in the henna paste mix these oils are safe and effective.
Oils should be diluted (in the henna mix) to 1-5% depending on variety as per current industry recommendations. Never apply neat essential oils directly to the skin.
Designing a custom oil blend for your paste can be a really exciting thing. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Cinnamon and Clove essential 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. Clove Bud essential oil is the safer choice if using clove.
Mustard Oil can have toxic effects and should never be used in your mix. (It is banned for cooking in the US.)
A Note on Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus grows in over 700 varieties! Not all of them have the suitable amount of mono-terpene alcohols in their essential oil. There are several varieties that will work beautifully, choose your oil carefully and do a test batch, happy hunting!
Do not use Vegetable Oils, Coconut oil, perfume oil etc. These do not contain the proper mono-terpenes found in volatile essential oils that are necessary for henna dye release. Vegetable oils will create an oily barrier on your skin, like a lotion, and prevent the henna dye from soaking in.