I feel so lucky to continue to connect with incredible people in this community week after week. Yesterday Jen and I sat down with Nadia Elhag. We connected recently on Instagram as we were scrolling and her beautiful Henna artistry continued to pop up on our screen.
Nadia joined us yesterday at Ventura Pop Up Yoga and shared her talent with us. While she intricately applied the henna to Jen and I’s hands and arms we began to learn so much more about the deep rooted history of henna.
Nadia offered to share some of the roots of this tradition with all of us.
Henna art has been practiced for over 5,000 years in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. For centuries, henna was applied on the skin for its natural cooling/healing qualities and many would decorate their bodies with jewelry-like designs for weddings and special occasions. Today, henna art is popular around the world and is a beautiful way to adorn ones body naturally and temporarily.
Henna, also known as mehndi, is a flowering plant that comes from the species of the Lawsonia genus. The henna leaves of the plant are dried and then crushed into a fine, bright green powder. This powder is then sifted and mixed with water, essential oils such as lavender, and sugar. The paste must be left in a warm area for over 6 hours for the dye to release. After dye release, the henna paste is put into cellophane wrapped cones where you can then apply it to the skin as if using a pen!
Before applying henna to the skin, it is best to free your schedule afterwards and clean the area being drawn on of any lotions or oils so the henna can sink into the skin. Make sure to breathe in the essential oils and feel the relaxation throughout your mind and body as the designs flow out of the henna cone. Henna likes to stay warm and on the skin as long as possible, away from water so it is best to cover it up once dried and leave it on overnight. The next day, or after 12 hours, you can flake off the henna with a plastic card and apply a natural balm. Once the 24-hour mark passes, water can be put on the design without disrupting the staining process. The most interesting part about henna is that over a course of 72 hours, the stain will change from a bright orange to a deep brown/red color! If before and aftercare instructions are strictly followed, the design will stay on the skin as long as three weeks.
If you’d like to learn more are receive some henna, join us this weekend. Nadia will be onsite from 6-8pm, Saturday March 18th at our Arts + Eats event.