Frequently Asked Questions
Did you know that not all henna is natural and safe? Here at The Henna Peacock, we take your safety seriously and we source the best quality, natural ingredients to mix our paste fresh by hand for your appointment.
We are happy to do patch tests or adjust our recipe if you have any sensitivities or allergies to the ingredients used- just let us know when you book so that it can be ready for you (as henna takes several hours to prepare).
We take pride in looking after the environment so we only use eco friendly, sustainable and organic ingredients. Even our cones are rolled from biodegradable plant based cellophane so they are composted when they are done.
What Is Henna?
Henna is actually a plant, and the paste is made from the dried and finely ground leaves of the henna (or lawsonia inermis) shrub that has been mixed with liquid to form a paste. The most basic paste can be made with just henna and water, but other ingredients can help the stain molicule (called lawsone) found in the plant to be boosted. The guide for a good mix is
Something Sweet - like sugar, apple juice, honey, golden or maple syrups, liquid glucose. This helps the paste to stick to the skin once it has dried.
Something Sour - a slightly acidic ph when first mixing henna can bring out the stain nicely, common ingredients used are lemon juice, black tea or coffee, some floral waters.
Monoterpenes - This may not sound great, but don't worry, these are naturally occuring compounds that are found in some essential oils, like lavender, cajeput, clove, and tea tree. Not all essential oils are suitable, either due to low amounts of monoterpenes or that they are not suitable for use on skin.
The stain molicule is activated when it becomes wet and takes anywhere from a couple of hours to 24+ hours for the stain to develop in the paste and to achieve stains. When on the skin, the dye sinks into the top layers of skin leaving a beautiful stain. Henna stains start off orange, but develop over the first 24-48 hours to achieve the rich brown colour we love henna for. Henna only ever stains orangy-brown, and no other colours. 'Black henna' and other coloured 'henna' products contain little to no real henna in it and is just chemical dyes. 'White henna' is body paint or body glue with white pigment on top, and does not stain the skin. White 'henna' only lasts a day or so.
What do you use in your paste?
We mix an organic paste that is suitable for sensitive skin types, using lavender essential oil and floral water, water and sugar. For brides we add in rose water and essential oil for added decadence, and for expecting mothers, children and cancer patients we use just sugar and water with our henna powder for a super sensitive blend.
Why is natural henna important?
Natural henna rarely causes any reactions, whereas chemical filled 'henna' products contain chemicals like PPD and ammonia. PPD is banned in most countries for use on the body, and ammonia is strictly moderated in hair dyes. These chemicals are sensitising, meaning that the more you are exposed to them the more likely you are to react to them. And even worse, the body cannot process these toxins and it builds up with each exposure and results in worse reactions as the body will be reacting to all previous encounters all at once. These non-natural cones can cause reactions to hair-dyes, sensitive skin, mild to severe rashes, permanent scarring and even death. Just because you may not have reacted to previous applications, it does not mean you will not react in future- it just means it'll be worse when your body has reached its limits. These cones can often be labelled as natural, but fresh henna only lasts a few days at room temperature before the dye quality starts to fade, and so should be kept in a fridge for up to a week or the freezer for longer term storage, so if they are sold on a shelf, it is not safe.
Henna stains start off orange and develops into a rich brown colour over the first 24-48 hours after paste removal. There are no other colours of henna, and no natural henna will instantly stain brown. Natural henna is made from a plant and smells herby and fresh (like picking herbs with fresh cut grass around).
The Henna Peacock Recipie
Organic henna powder, sugar, essential oil (lavender), floral waters (lavender/ rose)
Mixing Henna paste
We mix our paste by hand for appointments. Shelby first adds henna leaf powder and sugar, stirs together, then adds in lavender essential oil and water and mixes well. Once it's all formed a thick paste, it is then covered and left in a warm spot to release the dye. The water activates the natural dye (called Lawsone) contained in the henna leaves, and it takes anywhere from 4-24 hours for the paste to be ready.
After a few hours, she adds in little bits of water at a time to make the paste the right consistency. It then has it's first dye release test, where a small amount of paste it dotted onto the palm of the hand for 5 minutes, then the dried paste is flaked off. If it is ready, it will leave a nice pumpkin orange stain (this test fades quickly and doesn't mature much as the paste was taken off quickly, but it gives a good indication to when the paste is ready to use). If it is not yet ready, it will get covered again and tested every hour or two, until the paste is activated.
When the paste is ready, it is scooped out into a silicone piping bag (the paste stains the bags quickly, but they are re-useable and last several years when looked after). Shelby rolls her cones in advance from eco friendly cellophane (a plant based plastic that is fully biodegradable- the most environmentally friendly option on the market at the moment), which she now fills. For clients, she uses small cones, that have enough henna for a standard henna appointment. This is because we only use each cone on one person, before it is put in the (compost) bin.