Henna tattoo is a form of body art that has been practiced for centuries in many parts of the world. Henna is a plant-based dye applied to the skin in a paste form. The ground leaves of the henna plant, Lawsonia inermis, are mixed with lemon juice, water, and other ingredients to form a paste.
Henna tattoos are temporary and typically last for two to four weeks. The henna tattoo duration depends upon the location on the body, the paste thickness, and the duration the paste is allowed to dry on the skin. Keeping the fresh paste moist and warm also increases the duration of the tattoo.
If you are unsure how long these henna tattoos last, I suggest you continue reading, for this article may hold all you need to know regarding henna tattoos.
How Long Do Henna Tattoos Last?
Henna tattoos are a convenient choice if you are thinking of getting a tattoo but don’t want something permanent. Or if like me, the thought of needles piercing your skin scares you, I suggest you try a henna tattoo.
Henna, commonly known as mendhi, has been used for thousands of years to adorn and beautify the skin of young brides and fabrics and even has some healing properties. The dye darkens to a rich reddish-brown deepening within the first 48 hours but does not remain on the skin for long.
Henna tattoos are ideal for those not looking for a permanent tattoo or wanting to try a design before making it permanent. If properly maintained, these tattoos can last between two to four weeks.
The time span of the tattoo depends on the body part that has been adorned with this herbal paste. Traditionally henna has been used on the palms, wrists, and hands during wedding ceremonies or to mark celebrations like the Muslim festival of Eid or the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.
When henna is applied to the legs, feet, and stomach, it stays on longer. In these areas, the henna tattoo lasts about one to two weeks before the color fades. It may last for up to five weeks before fading.
Areas unsuitable for henna tattoos are where the skin is thinner, like the backs of hands and feet. In these areas, the color fades faster than when the skin is tougher.
A person’s oil secretion on the skin and their skin regeneration also affects the duration and color of these dyes. Every person’s skin is different, so the clarity and length of the henna tattoo also differ from person to person.
What Causes Henna To Last Longer?
Regular tattoos inject the inks and dyes into the skin, making those tattoos permanent. Henna tattoos differ because the dyes penetrate just the skin’s surface and fade with time.
Henna acts as a dye and, as such, fades. However, henna is also known to last longer as a skin dye. The reasons for this are as follows;
1. Henna Binds To The Skin
We all know of plant-based dyes, like turmeric, beetroot, or strawberries, often used as stains or dyes. However, with henna, there is a slight difference in that the plant contains a molecule called Lawsone. This molecule is responsible for the color adhering to the skin.
A chemical reaction known as the Michael reaction causes the Lawsone pigment to adhere to the skin’s keratin.
The first result of this chemical reaction is that the dyes appear darker on the skin’s surface. And secondly, the henna molecules are now bound to the skin and cannot be removed by simply washing. The dye pigments will remain until the top skin layer falls off.
2. Henna Has Similar Effect As Apples
Similar to the effect oxidation has on apples causing them to be brown when exposed to air, henna dyes will darken within 48 hours of application. Unlike other skin dyes, which may fade with time, the dyes in henna grow in strength, thereby making henna tattoos a long-lasting skin colorant.
How Long Do Black Henna Tattoos Last?
Black tattoos have gained popularity, especially amongst the younger crowd, because of their impermanence, attractive designs, and similarity to regular tattoos. Unlike traditional henna tattoos, which exude a reddish-brown hue, black tattoos are just that black.
Unlike traditional henna, a natural product, black henna contains paraphenylenediamine or PPD, a chemical product that changes the color and has a faster reaction on the skin. PPD often makes its way into black hair dyes, making the dye much darker than the traditional natural henna we all know.
Black henna tattoos have a similar lifespan to traditional henna tattoos. They also last between one to three weeks.
However, there have been many cases regarding the harmful effects black henna has on the skin. It is, therefore, best to avoid black henna tattoos altogether. Caution is warranted when visiting an untrained or unprofessional henna artist.
Black henna has the following adverse side effects, which are noticeable quickly after application.
- Skin blisters that are itchy and painful.
- It may cause permanent scars
- Throat infections
- Respiratory issues
- Sore throat
The FDA has approved only henna as hair dye and has not approved it for use on skin. However, it is worth mentioning that the issues are more related to black henna and not so much to regular henna, which has been used as body adornment for centuries.
Do Henna Tattoos Wash Off?
Henna is not a permanent colorant and will fade with time. Regular washing with soap or other body wash does cause the color to fade faster. However, if you need to fasten the process, here are a few more suggestions to help remove your henna tattoo.
1. Soap And Water Helps To Remove Henna Tattoo
Regular, good ‘ol soap and water do the trick if you want to remove or lighten your henna tattoo. Repeated washing using a gentle soap and water helps remove the hennas’ pigments.
After the repeated washes, you may need to apply a hand lotion to replenish the oils of your skin.
2. Baby Oil Helps To Remove Henna Tattoo
Baby oil is another easy method that helps remove henna’s pigments. You can add a few drops into your bath or use a cotton ball dipped in baby oil and gently swab the henna design.
After 10-20 minutes, you can wash the baby oil off and cleanse the skin.
3. Lemon Juice To Remove Henna Tattoo
Lemons are often used in cosmetics as a natural skin lightener. The acid from lemons also removes stains on clothing and the body. Therefore lemon juice is a wonderful ingredient to remove your henna tattoo.
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on fresh lemons, you can use those, but if not, you may also use store-bought concentrated lemon juice. However, concentrated lemon juice may be too harsh on the skin, so you may need to dilute it with a bit of water.
To remove the henna tattoo, dip a cotton ball or cloth into the lemon juice and gently apply it to the henna design. After applying the lemon juice, you can proceed to rinse off the juice with warm water. And then, apply a moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out.
Those with sensitive skins should avoid using lemon juice as it may cause skin irritations.
4. Exfoliating Scrubs Helps To Remove Henna Tattoo
A good exfoliator is a great addition to any bath routine. However, it is excellent if you want to remove henna tattoos. Because henna tattoos stain only the skin’s surface, exfoliating scrubs may help remove them.
To remove the henna tattoo, use a loofah to gently work the scrub into the skin, then wash off with warm water. The tattoo will not come away with a single wash. It may take multiple washes before you see evidence of the tattoo fading.
5. Baking Soda Removes Henna Tattoos
Baking soda has many uses instead of just baking. It also makes a fantastic exfoliator and helps to remove stains.
To remove henna tattoos, mix lemon juice with a sufficient quantity of baking soda to form a paste. The paste is applied to the design and allowed to dry for 10-15 minutes. Once dry, you may wash off with warm water.
This paste must be applied once a day and a moisturizer to prevent the skin from drying out.
Why Are Henna Tattoos Not Permanent?
The pigments from the henna plant stain only the skin’s top layer referred to as the epidermis. Unlike regular tattoos, where the inks and dyes penetrate deep into the skin’s pores and last longer, henna tattoos last only for a short time, approximately two to four weeks, because the skin cells constantly fall away.
Although henna tattoos are not permanent, there are a few methods you can try to ensure your henna design stays on for a while longer.
1. Keep The Henna Tattoo Warm
The molecules from the henna adhere themselves to the skin’s keratin and provide the design is kept warm the color deepens within 48 hours of application.
You must strike a balance and decide how much heat is beneficial when warming the henna design. When the skin is overheated, it excretes perspiration, which reduces the henna tattoo’s color and causes the tattoo not to last long.
A simple but effective technique for warming henna tattoos is first to cover the design with a thin layer of tissues. You can apply direct heat by using a heating pad or indirect heat by keeping the henna design close to a space heater.
Ideally, warm the tattoo for 10 minutes between intervals of an hour each time. You need to be mindful of the time spent because you don’t want to overheat yourself or dry out the henna tattoo. Four sessions of 10 minutes at a time are perfect for ensuring you get the most out of your henna tattoo.
2. Keep The Henna Tattoo Moist
Henna tattoos are produced by mixing the henna powder in water or black tea to form a thickish paste. You fill the paste into a cone much like an icing bag and pipe intricate designs onto the skin area.
Because the mixture is in powdered form, it tends to dry out and therefore requires saturation. A simple lemon and sugar solution is ideal for keeping the henna design saturated. You can heat lemon juice with sugar over the stove and wait until the sugar dissolves.
Cool the lemon-sugar solution, then use a spray bottle or a cotton ball to apply directly to the henna tattoo when you find the design drying out. This technique is best suited for when the henna tattoo is left overnight.
You can also use essential oils like eucalyptus, which helps deepen the henna tattoo color and keeps the henna paste moist for extended periods.
The lemon’s acid combined with the sugar increases the binding properties of the henna, deepens the color, and assures your henna tattoo lasts longer.
3. Do Not Wash Off Henna Tattoo
Henna adheres to the skin’s top layer; therefore, it is recommended you do not wash the area where the henna tattoo is applied for at least 48 hours after application. To retain the color for longer, you can wrap the design in cling wrap before taking a shower or bath and avoid the use of exfoliating scrubs or body scourers.
You can wash the design area twelve hours after application using warm water and a pH-balanced soap.
The skin’s top layer, which consists of dead skin cells, falls away, resulting in the henna tattoo fading. You don’t want your intricate designed henna tattoo to fade too fast, so take the necessary precautions to prevent that.
4. Be Patient With Henna Tattoo
Once you apply a henna tattoo to your skin, it’s only natural for you to want to see how it turns out. The one thing having a henna tattoo teaches you, especially within the first twelve hours, is how to be patient!
With henna tattoos, after the paste is applied, the longer you allow it to stay on, the deeper the color is. It is best if you leave it for a minimum of an hour and up to twelve hours maximum. It is even better to leave the henna paste overnight for the dye pigments to catch onto the skin.
With proper care, your henna tattoo can be a beautiful but temporary addition to your appearance. Henna tattoos can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, depending on how you take care of them. For your tattoo to last as long as possible, keep it moist and warm, and avoid scrubbing with harsh soaps or exfoliators.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):