all natural body art

We try to answer your questions on this site. If you have a question you don't see answered here, drop us a note - we'll answer your question and add it to the list. Thanks!!

What is henna? 
Henna is a small shrub (Lawsonia Inermis). The leaves of this plant are dried and ground into powder. Henna powder is made into a paste that can be used to dye natural surfaces such as skin or hair in an art form sometimes called mehndi or henna tattoos - the art of applying henna paste to the skin to create a design. These designs last anywhere from a few days to a week or more. It depends on how long the paste is left on the skin, what part of the body the paste is applied to, and other factors like aftercare.Henna grows in various regions throughout Africa and Asia. There are numerous traditions involving henna from many different cultures. Some common henna traditions include decorating the bride for weddings and belly blessings for moms-to-be. There is no single point of origin for the traditions of henna, but it has been used for thousands of years! The oldest records of henna use are in mummies from ancient Egypt and ancient stories from India.

What's so important about "natural" henna?
At Emerald Caravan we emphasize natural henna. This is because there are products out there labeled as natural henna BUT are in fact CHEMICAL PRODUCTS THAT CAN CAUSE PERMANENT SKIN DAMAGE. Natural henna is very safe with hardly any allergic reactions. It is only orange-red-brown in color and there is no such thing as "black henna." Internet searches for "black henna" can yield graphic results: be warned! If you see articles in the news about scars from "henna," they are inevitably referring to chemical henna. We are always willing to answer questions about natural vs. chemical henna and can provide safe alternatives for any of your body art requests.

What are glitter tattoos?

Glitter tattoos are designs created on the skin using an acrylic adhesive specially developed for skin and cosmetic grade glitter. The adhesive is clear and any color of glitter can be applied to create the designs.

What is HennaGlam?

HennaGlam is a specialty product developed by Henna Caravan. This unique product is somewhere between an adhesive and a body paint. It comes in a variety of colors and is what we use to approximate "white henna." (There is no such thing as "white henna." This trend was started by henna artists sharing photos of practicing with lotion instead of henna and well...the internet took it from there.) 

What is jagua?

Jagua is a South American fruit juice used to make a gel for body art. It's fairly new on the scene in the US but is a great alternative for naturally and safely creating dark blue/black stains on the skin. 

What is hengua?

Hengua is a paste made of henna powder and jagua juice. It gives a darker stain than just henna alone, but applies more like henna paste than typical jagua gel. We do not yet offer this medium because we are still practicing with it. If you want to be a human canvas for our hengua practice, drop us a note. :)

What is aftercare? 
Aftercare is how you take care of your art once we're done. Different types of body art should be cared for with different methods to ensure the quality of your design. Go here ​ to read about aftercare for different types of body art.

What does henna cost? What are your rates?

Please see our henna main page for costs or contact us for a custom quote.

Can people be allergic to natural henna?

Yes. It's rare, but it does happen. Most people are NOT allergic to henna itself, but may be allergic to the other ingredients commonly used in natural henna paste such as lemon juice or essential oils.

To read more about henna sensitivity and for more information go to the Henna Page at:

How can I be sure I'm getting natural henna?

  • Ask. Any reputable henna artist will tell you what is in their paste. There's no "secret" to henna paste. If they won't tell you what's in it, don't use it. If their explanation doesn't sound right to you, move on. Getting a design with chemical paste can cause permanent damage to your skin!
  • Observe. Natural henna paste is green/brown/dark brown. It is not black or bright red. The stain from natural henna starts out bright orange and take 1-2 days to darken to full brown-red color. Anyone promising instant results is NOT using natural henna.
  • Sniff! Natural henna paste does not have a chemical smell. The powder itself smells like alfalfa or grass, and is commonly mixed with lemon juice and essential oils like tea tree or lavender. 
  • 100% natural henna is not shelf stable - the dye breaks down when exposed to heat or air. If the henna paste you are buying has been sitting out in a bin for days, it's not natural henna. Natural henna is stored in an ice chest or refrigerator, or frozen until thawed for use.

Is henna cultural appropriation?

It can be. Henna comes from a variety of cultures, each with their own traditions. If an artist is uneducated about those traditions or chooses to disrespect them, that can be a form of cultural appropriation. All of the artists at Emerald Caravan have a deep respect for the wide history of henna traditions and we welcome open discussion about this topic. Without any one cultural origin for henna, the use of it, in and of itself, is not cultural appropriation. However, using henna in a style reserved for particular purposes (you'll never convince us to henna a bindi for you if you don't understand Hinduism) is a form of cultural appropriation and something we are against. There are numerous online discussions on this topic so we won't get into this much further here, but thank you for being concerned and making yourself aware of the potential for cultural appropriation in this art form.

Examples of cultural appropriation of henna (which we aren't going to do for you): Bindis for decoration only, Using "holy" names or symbols in a style that expressly forbids such usage; Inappropriate use of Native American symbols. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but you get the idea. This is an art form dedicated to beauty and blessings - there is no place for disrespectful or hateful designs.

Frequently Asked Questions


so many questions...