Henna (biologically known as Lawsonia inermis) is a flowering plant. Extracts from the leaves of the plant have been used since the Bronze Age (talk about being ancient!) to create a natural red-brown dye used to color skin, nails, hair, leather, and wool.
The henna plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions such as South Asia, Africa, and some parts of Australia. It is commercially cultivated in many countries, such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
The henna leaves are processed, and a powder is created from them. Water is then added to the powder to create a paste, which is then used on the hair, skin, and nails. The paste is then left on the skin/hair for a few hours, or overnight for the color to stain the skin cells. The red-brown color lasts for a week or so on the skin, but stays on the hair much longer.
Henna is used particularly in Africa and South Asia, especially to decorate the bride’s hands and feet. It symbolizes prosperity, happiness, and beautifies the body. Inspired by this decoration of hands, it is now a popular art all over the world.
Henna contains natural antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral elements. Furthermore, two compounds lawsone and isoplumbagin, have shown help to prevent skin cancer.