hen party

Henna Body Art for the Bride

Henna is known by many other names including Mendhi, Egyptian Privet, Hinna, Lawsonia Inermis and Jamaica Mignonette.

The ancient art of henna adornment of the hands and feet is known as Mendhi. Mendhi is an art form which is believed to date back 5,000 years.

Henna is used by women to enhance their natural beauty on special occasions such as weddings.

In Hindu and Islamic culture it is customary for the bride to apply henna the day before her wedding day. This is known as the Mendhi Ceremony where all the brides’ friends and family attend the celebration and sing and dance while intricate designs are painted onto the bride’s hands and feet.

There are many superstitions associated with henna adornment.  It is thought to bring the bride good luck, passion, fertility and prosperity in her new marriage. The mother-in-law will often apply the first spot of mendhi paste to the brides hand; this is seen as a blessing to the bride. The mendhi artist will often write the brides husbands name hidden within the intricate designs. If the husband is unable to find his name the bride can claim to rule the roost. One way the bride is thought to be able to gain favour with her mother-in-law is through how long the henna can remain on her hands. Whilst the bride retains the henna she is able to abstain from any household chores so the darker the henna the better.

Styles of Mendhi Henna Body Art

henna footThere are many different styles of mendhi body art. The styles are often a reflection of the region and culture of the person who wears the art. The three popular styles which are asked for include traditional indian, arabic and the modern designs.

Traditional Indian Henna Designs

Designs often include national symbols of India such as the lotus flower, the elephant with a raised trunk and a peacock. Mangoes and, painstaking thin lines similar to that of a lace glove, which lead to delicate leaves.  This is the essence of tradition mendhi art. Designs will frequently cover the bride’s entire hands and feet.

Arabic Henna Designs

Not to be mistaken for Traditional Indian designs.

Incorporate bold geometric shapes, large flowers and thin leaves along with mangoes and flowing patterns on the hands and feet. Animal and human imagery are absent from the Arabic style due to religious reasons.

Modern Henna Twist

Glitter henna has become popular on the Bollywood scene. By adding a sparkle of coloured glitter, to your design this will coordinate well with your choice of outfit.

Bridal mendhi make-up can take on average between 1-2 hours, but it really depends on your choice of pattern.

Henna body art is not just used by Eastern cultures; it now has global appeal thanks to the like of Madonna, Bjork and No Doubt. As a result henna body art has evolved just like any other art form to keep up with the demands of the consumer.  

What is Henna?

henna handHenna is a sweet scented flowering shrub. The plant was used by the ancient Egyptians and many other different cultures spanning from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and all the way across to Europe.

The plant is valued throughout the world for its cosmetic and medicinal properties. The scented flowers are used to make medicines and perfumes whilst the leaves are used to make henna paste for the staining of hand and feet and the dying of hair.

How is Henna Paste Made?

The green leaves when allowed to dry can be ground into a powder. The powder is then filtered to remove the large course fibres. The fine powder produced is then mixed with hot water to make a red-orange paste which can then be applied to the hand or feet. There are a number of colour variations to henna which all depend on the quality of the plant and its country of origin.

By combining the powder with the leaves of other plants such as indigo, cloves and tea it is possible to enhance the colour of the dye and improve its longevity.

The paste is then applied to the hands and feet using an application cone. Upon drying the paste will flake off to leave a red-brown decorative stain that can last between 2-3 weeks. To increase the longevity of the design it is best to apply the henna and leave it on overnight, during which time you would ideally try and avoid contact with water of the adorned areas of your body.

Henna Care
  • Henna should never be applied to broken skin.
  • Always do a patch test before applying henna to your skin, in the same way you would do with any other cosmetic you were applying to your skin for the first time.
  • Get henna body art applied by a professional or someone who has experience in producing henna body art.

Natural Henna or Black Henna

henna drawingHenna should only ever be mixed with essential oils and other plant based material such as tea, cloves and lemon juice. The paste is green in colour. When the paste flakes off the henna stain should appear an orange colour which changes to a reddish-brown over the course of a few days.

Black Henna also known as Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) Black Henna is black in colour. This is produced when natural henna is combined with black hair dye which contains PPD. Black henna unlike natural henna is known to cause adverse reactions. Black henna smells unpleasant. It is often painted on unlike natural henna. Black henna on drying will remain black.

How do I choose the right Mendhi make-up artist?

  • The artist should be able to show you a catalogue of designs they can reproduce or be able to produce a design inspired by yourself.
  • The artist should be able to tell you what ingredients they mix with the henna paste.
  • They should allow you to check the colour of the paste they use.
  • They should allow you to smell the henna.
  • Find out how long the adornment will take .
  • Ask them what they use to help adhere the paste to the skin whilst it is drying many will dab on a solution of sugar and lemon while other artists might add sugar to the paste at the start.
  • Ask them for the total cost of their services including travel, their time and the cost of materials used.

If you have any doubts about the mendhi make-up artist then do not have the henna application done.

Henna and Getting Married Abroad

If you are planning on getting married abroad they why not consider having a mendhi bridal make-up. Not only will it be a great way to reflect your personality, but it is a great way for you to stay cool. When henna is applied to the hand and feet it has a cooling effect, a great way to keep the heat at bay.

Henna Hen Party

A Mendhi Ceremony is very similar to a Western ‘Hen Party’. Why not throw a mendhi party for your hen night. It would be a real talking point for your guests and provide a wonderfully relaxing treat.

hen party