Henna Traditions: All The Ways You Can Use Henna

henna decorated wood box

At Earth Henna, we are all about body art, body adornment, temporary tattoos, and we love all the ways in which people beautify themselves. For 20 years we have promoted the gorgeous mehndi culture and tried our best to give our customers all the tools they need to create beautiful henna tattoos in the home setting. But did you know that henna traditions call for its use in so many ways? Oh, henna, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.


Long before people in the west became aware of henna for use on skin, they were coloring their hair with it, just like their counterparts in India, Africa and the Middle East have done for thousands of years. Henna is the original, organic, all-natural way to dye hair. Want to avoid chemical dyes? Need an extra woosh of gloss, vibrancy, conditioning, and strength? Try henna! Unlike synthetic dyes, henna varnishes hair rather than chemically changing it. And although the color is permanent, it gradually fades so roots appear more subtle as they emerge.

Wood, Canvas, Paper, And Hides

Henna does not only dye the skin temporarily, it also permanently dyes wood, canvas, paper and animal hides. Let’s not forget that henna traditions look upon henna as an ink. So if you want to decorate a plain wood picture frame, or add a border pattern to a wood table, henna is the ideal medium! Its organic, reddish brown stain looks totally natural on lighter woods, and it’s a beautiful way to make a unique statement! If you’re worried about going freehand, it’s totally fine to first draw your pattern or design with a pencil, and then go over it with your henna. You can use an applicator bottle and fine tip like we use in our henna kits, or use a fine paintbrush. Just remember that it leaves a permanent stain, so advance with caution. To see what you can do with henna, visit Healing Henna for ideas!

In Morocco one time, we happened onto a gallery that was exhibiting an artist whose work was done with henna on paper and canvas. It was exciting, mysterious and stunning, not to mention quite original. We also saw lampshades and drums covered with animal hides that were decorated with henna, giving them an exotic appearance that we wanted in our house!


Legend has it that when Egyptian mummies were unearthed, thousands of years after burial, traces of henna could be found on their nails. I doubt you’re interested in having orange nails until they grow out, but just wanted to let you know that’s a henna option too!

Box image courtesy of New World Henna.

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