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Mehndi is an ancient Indian art form performed by generations in Middle East,India, Pakistan and  in other countries. But this art has recently been popularised by  western celebrities like Madonna.

In the earlier days mehndi is made of freshly ground mehndi leaves and tamarind. But now mehndi leaves are dried and powdered. While applying mehndi I always used my creative freehand  drawings as mehndi designs. Here is my mehndi preparation and application process.

Mehndi Recipe:

Henna Powder
Eucalyptus oil
Lemon juice
Tamarind Paste

Preparation: First sift the henna powder. Then add tamarind paste, about 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil, two pinches of sugar and water to the henna powder. You can substitute with the lemon juice. Also it is better to use very little water or no water for good results. Keep the paste covered for at least 6-8 hours.

Cone making: Take a square piece of tough but flexible plastic sheet. The plastic should be hard enough to hold it's shape when the mehndi paste  is squeezed. Then roll it to a cone with a small hole at the tip. Stick the side of the cone with the cellophane tape. Take extra care to seal  at the tip of the cone because, usually cone will develop leak later. Then fill the 3/4 of the cone with the above said mehndi paste. Lastly roll the top of the cone and seal it with the cellophane tape. Now a days readymade cones  with different  tips are also available in some Mehndi stores.

Application: Now it's the time to apply mehndi. You can use your creative mind to draw different designs or you can buy design books or stencils which are easily available in beauty stores. To make thick lined designs or bareek (thin) lined designs use different types of cones. Free hand designs do very well with this henna art.

Aftercare: After one hour henna will dry and starts to crack. Leave the mehndi for a while - the longer you keep, the darker the color. Prepare the sugar solution to apply on the henna. For this take about three tbs lime juice and add 1/4 tbs of sugar. Mix it well until the sugar dissolves. Apply this solution on the mehndi while it is drying by dabbing with cotton. Repeat it for three to four times so that the mehndi remains wet. Leave the mehndi in your hand as long as you can stand on it, at least 4 hours.  If you want bright, dark color the keep it for 6 hours. Then remove the mehndi, apply little coconut oil and then wash your hands.

More Links:

Mehndi sketchbook
Mehndi preparation
Ginger's House of Mehndi

Recommended Books:

Art of Mehndi
by Sumitra Batra

Art of Henna
by Pamela Nichols

The Mehndi Kit
by Zaynab Mirza

Henna from Head to Toe
by Norma Pasekoff Weinberg

Mehndi: The Art of Body Painting
by Carine Fabius

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