Things you should not do (Applies to brides too!)

Watching somebody wash their henna design off is probably the most painful thing I have ever seen. Not for the person washing it off, but to the henna artist whose work has just gone down the drain. Literally.
On that note, I feel this post is going to be a bit of a rant! Bear with me; I won't include flowery language or anything offensive. I understand some of you might not agree with some of the points outlined here, and I completely respect that. Or you might be enlightened. One of the two.

To get your design to yield a gorgeous colour (just like the ones you see on Google searches), the first step, in the initial stages, is to keep as far away from water as possible.

All down the drain.

I'm sure you're asking, "how come? Wouldn't it just be easier to get it off, and it will still darken in the process?" The answer is no, if you've had a mix of natural henna applied to you. If you've had a paste applied where you washed it off and it still darkened considerably within a few (or so) hours, you've had the instant mehndi applied to you...or as I like to call it, Chemical Cocktail Mehndi.

"But I've had this applied quite a few times to me and I've never had a reaction before. You're talking garbage, Lydi."

Change that to "I haven't had a reaction YET." It's very possible you've had it applied 9 times, and on the 10th application, BOOM! If your skin could talk, it would most certainly be using flowery language. Or some parts begin to peel in places as the design fades. (Also, I'm not even talking about black henna because I'm sure you all know by now, that stuff is DANGEROUS. It's like using printer ink on your hands. Not good.) Natural mehndi starts off as an orangey colour (or dark-orange colour, the longer you keep it on), and slowly oxidizes over 48 - 72 hours to a reddish-brown colour. What happens is a Michael addition reaction between your skin and the staining molecule in the mehndi, hydroxynaphthoquinone (I think we'll lovingly refer to it as HNQ for now). It's also conveniently a condensation reaction! Meaning:

Keratin + HNQ ---> Keratin-HNQ-complex + water (you guessed it!)

If you add water (i.e. washing the mehndi off), you are reversing the reaction and it makes the darkening process almost useless.
Now I don't want to turn this into a lab report, but simply put: don't reverse the reaction by coming into contact with water. When doing hygienic rituals, a layer of baby oil (or vegetable oil, even) can be used to create a barrier between your skin and (brief contact) with water.

This brings me to the second point - there are things worse than water.

Just doin' my nails.

Acetone! Removing your nail polish (even putting some on) will cause your design to fade immediately. Your skin exfoliates heavily upon contact with nail polish remover and your design goes with it.

And the third and final point (and I'm sure everyone will agree with me on this one):

That's right; none of this! Your 'get out of jail free' card.

Mehndi doesn't have to be a burden; in fact, when you've got this stuff on, it's a one-way ticket to no-housework-land. Brides especially, if anyone asks you to do the housework while your mehndi design is still there, just tell 'em it's a big fat no! If they protest, let them know (gently) that it's tradition for a bride not to do the housework with mehndi on, cos it has been a tradition for several generations.
Anything that involves exfoliation of your skin, be it scrubbing, swimming, chopping tomatoes, hand-washing clothes, rock-climbing or operating heavy machinery, should be avoided for as long as you'd like your design to last. You'd most likely get good colour for the first 3 - 5 days after darkening, and it'll fade completely in about 20 days.

P.S. In my last post, I said I'd include some of my portfolio designs. The photos above shows one of them; my next post for sure will showcase a few others.

Click those share buttons!