Make that Mehndi Last

You’ve heard the superstitions: the darker the mendhi . . .

The more your husband loves you.

The better your relationship with your mother-in-law will be.

The more children you’ll have.

The cooler you are.

Okay, I made the last one up. But it seems like the general consensus is that dark mehndi is a good thing. So how do you make that happen?

There are three strategies for ensuring your henna leaves a nice, dark mark on your hands, feet, and whatever else you choose to apply it to:

Lemon juice + sugar



Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty: How do you make these strategies work for you?

Lemon Juice + Sugar

Once your mehndi has been applied, it will start to set and dry. Dry mehndi is something you want to avoid for as long as possible, because once the henna is dry on your hands, it’s no longer leaving an impression. Think of it this way: when paint is wet, it can still leave color behind on things. Once it dries, the color is no longer transferable to other surfaces. Henna is the same way: wet henna leaves color on skin, dry henna does not.

So, the objective here is to keep the mehndi wet for as long as possible. This is where your sugar-lemon concoction comes into play:

Step 1: Make sure that you have a few bowls sitting around near the mehndi station that contain a mixture of white sugar and lemon juice. There is no specific ratio here, but you don’t want it too watery or too chunky.

Step 2: Grab some cotton balls, too.

Step 3: Dip a cotton ball in your mixture of sugar and lemon juice. You want the cotton ball to be damp, almost to the point of dripping liquid.

Step 4: Gently dab the moist cotton ball onto the drying henna. You want to pat the pattern (ha, pat the pattern, alliteration) very softly, using just enough force to transfer the lemon-sugar liquid onto the henna to keep it moist. Short, vertical strokes should do it – don’t blend the henna horizontally, or you’ll screw up your beautiful design. Think pushing a button (not swiping right on that hottie from Tinder).

Step 5: Repeat as necessary for as long as you have the energy to continue doing so.

Keep in mind that this strategy is going to make your henna sticky, and it will delay your opportunity to use your mehndi-covered hands for anything other than waving for a while. ::Sigh:: The things we do in the name of beauty.


Do I really have to explain this one to you? The longer the henna is on your hands, the better. Time is your friend (for once). Try not to disturb your henna for as long as possible. Here are my strategies:

Have a friend or loved one feed you meals.

Try not to wash your hands for as long as possible.

When it’s time to remove the henna, rub your hands together to encourage the dry bits to flake off on their own. Again, try to let the henna sit and stain your hands for as long as possible, without introducing water to the equation.

Sleep on sheets you don’t care about, in pajamas you don’t care about, and leave the henna on the whole time.


In my experience, I have noticed that my henna tends to set more nicely when my hands are warm. We can’t all choose to have mehndi applied in Miami during a summer heat wave, though, so here’s the best tip ever:


You might know it as Vick’s VapoRub, or the store brand equivalent. The camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus combination works wonders in darkening mehndi patterns on your skin. Wait until your mehndi has rubbed off, and your skin is clean, and then lather up with some healing salve. After adding the salve, try to avoid washing your hands for a while. You will be amazed at how the henna will darken on your hands.

Now that you have your tips and tricks handy, make sure you have the right tools on hand to you’re your henna nice and dark, prepare yourself a comfortable seat, play some good music or turn on the TV to a marathon of Friends reruns, and get that henna application started. See ya in 6 hours, boo.

How To Kit: