Source(google.com.pk)Henna, scientifically named Lawsonia Inermis, is a shrub that grows up to 12 feethigh. It can be found in the hot climates like Egypt, Pakistan, India, Africa, Morocco, and Australia. The plant grows best in heat up to 120F degrees and contains more dye at these temperatures. It wilts in temperatures below 50F degrees. It also grows better in dry soil than damp soil. The leaves are in opposite decussate pairs and vary in sizes from approximately 2-4 cm. long. The flowers are fragrant, produced in conical panicles 1040 cm long, each flower 5 mm diameter, with four white petals. The fruit is a dry capsule 68 mm diameter, containing numerous 12.5 mm seeds.
The henna plant contains lawsone which is a reddish-orange dye that binds to the keratin (a protein) in our skin and safely stains the skin. The stain can be from pale orange to nearly black depending on the quality of the henna and how well ones skin takes it. A good henna, fresh from hot & dry climates, will stain the darkest.
For body decorations, the leaves of the henna plant are dried, crushed into a fine powder, and made into a creamy paste using a variety of techniques. This paste is then applied to the skin, staining the top layer of skin only. In its natural state it will dye the skin an orange or brown color. Although it looks dark green (or dark brown depending on the henna) when applied, this green paste will flake off revealing an orange stain. The stain becomes a reddish-brown color after 1-3 days of application. The palms and the soles of the feet stain the darkest because the skin is the thickest in these areas & contain the most keratin. The farther away from hands and feet the henna is applied, the lesser the color. The face area usually stains the lightest. The designs generally last from 1-4 weeks on the skin surface depending on the henna, care and skin type.
Henna works on all skin types and colors. It looks just as beautiful on dark skin as light skin but because some peoples skin may take the dye better than others, it can look more prominent on one and not as much on another (even lighter skin). But nevertheless, henna is a symbol of beauty, art, and happiness and is meant for EVERYONE!
Because henna acts as a sunblock, there is an added benefit to having henna designs in the summer. For those who love to get a tan It leaves tan lines! In order to benefit from this, it is best to get a henna design, let its natural color stay on for 3-5 days and then go and get a tan. This way you can enjoy the natural henna color on your body, the henna color with the tan, and then tan lines in the shapes of the design (once the henna fades away)! The tan lines last as long as the actual tan!
Henna has been used as a cosmetic hair dye for 6,000 years. In Ancient Egypt, henna was known to have been used. It was commonly used for many centuries in areas of India, the Middle East, and Africa.
In Ancient Egypt, Ahmose-Henuttamehu (17th Dynasty, 1574 BCE): Henuttamehu was probably a daughter of Seqenenre Tao and Ahmose Inhapy. Smith reports that the mummy of Henuttamehu's own hair had been dyed a bright red at the sides, probably with henna.
In Europe, henna was popular among women connected to the aesthetic movement and the Pre-Raphaelite artists of England in the 1800s. The fashion for Orientalism led young women with a bohemian inclination to begin tinting their hair with henna. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's wife and muse, Elizabeth Siddal, had naturally bright red hair. Contrary to the cultural tradition in Britain that considered red hair unattractive, the Pre-Raphaelites fetishized red hair. Siddal was portrayed by Rossetti in many paintings that emphasized her flowing red hair. The other Pre-Raphaelites, including Evelyn De Morgan and Frederick Sandys, academic classicists such as Frederic Leighton, and French painters such as Gaston Bussière and the Impressionists further popularized the association of henna-dyed hair and young bohemian women.
Opera singer Adelina Patti is sometimes credited with popularizing the use of henna in Europe in the late 1800s. Parisian courtesan Cora Pearl was often referred to as La Lune Rousse (the red moon) for dying her hair red. In her memoirs, she relates an incident when she dyed her pet dog's fur to match her own hair. By the 1950s, Lucille Ball popularized "henna rinse" as her character, Lucy Ricardo, called it on the television show I Love Lucy. It gained popularity among young people in the 1960s through growing interest in Eastern cultures.
Muslim men may use henna as a dye for hair and most particularly their beards. This is considered a sunnah, a commendable tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, a hadith (narration of the Prophet) holds that he encouraged Muslim women to dye their nails with henna to demonstrate femininity and distinguish their hands from the hands of men; thus some Muslim women in the Middle East apply henna to their finger and toenails as well as their hands.