How do you know your henna paste is ready?

What is Dye-Release?


The term Henna is an Arabic word for the process of applying a paste made from the ground leaves of a woody shrub that thrives in hot, dry climates. The Latin name is Lawsonia Inermis. Henna leaves naturally contain lawsone, a red-orange dye. In powder form, henna will not stain skin.

henna powder


In order for the henna paste to create a stain on your skin, the paste must first go through dye-release. When I first heard the term, Dye-Release (said by all the cool henna artists I admire) I was so confused. I started experimenting and spent time gathering some research to explain the process to y'all! 

Dye Release is a chemical reaction that happens once the henna paste is mixed (check out how to create paste The paste depending on the; type of henna, the temperature, time and climate all effect the dye release process. Once the paste is mixed you seal the mix usually in a bowl , I prefer saran wrap. The reason why we seal the paste is so it does not dry out and to dye-release evenly. 

henna paste seal


The temperature effects the speed of the dye-release process. There is no such thing as an immediate dye-release, the dye is much weaker, resulting in light tones. If you live in a hotter climate you could maybe have it dye-release in 6 hours however you have to keep watch and make sure it doesn't cook lol. Optimal dye-release occurs at room temperature after 8-12 hours, with full demise occurring after 48 hours if left out longer.  Demise is when your paste no longer stains your skin and the henna paste has no purpose. The type of henna powders also effect the speed in dye-release, I believe Rajasthani powder from personal experience dye-releases in 6 hours based on my humid Toronto Climate.

On the other hand, cooler temperatures will slow or halt the chemical reactions. This is why it is possible to store leftover henna paste in the freezer for months without loss of effectiveness. I would say the paste lasts about 3-4 months, however you could always test the paste out to check. So, once we mix to perfect lump free consistency we can strain for a smooth paste. Then cone the paste for use or freeze to protect it for future use. 

What we've learned henna paste when mixed needs time to mend together. Once that happens it creates a top-layer which is darker than the light green underneath. The henna paste when ready stains a bright orange. Hope this helps y'all!

My next blog, I'll share how to strain and cone your paste!

Later days.