After all these years, henna insists on retaining some of her mystery. By now even though I think I know everything there is to know about henna, I can still come away scratching my head. And that’s especially true when it comes to getting good color.

Everyone knows that, no matter what secret favorite ingredient you use to make your henna design come out as dark as possible, it won’t work if you don’t start out with excellent quality henna. I remember back in the early days, trying time-honored recipes from different Indian families, and coming up short. Finally I realized that it was the henna!—bought from a local Indian grocery store. That henna powder must’ve been sitting on those shelves for years!

And by now, I know the henna we use in our Earth Henna kits is fresh, of excellent quality, and, in addition, is sterilized and dermatologically tested whenever we receive a new harvest from our Moroccan farmer partners. But every once in a while, we’ll get a call from someone reporting a variation of this story:

I got your kit, which I’ve used many times before. My husband and I both used it. He got great color, but mine came out so light I can barely see it!

Oh, henna, why do you do this to me?! It occasionally happens to us here in our offices too. Two of us decide to draw on ourselves; one of us gets great color, the other one, not so much. That’s when I have to remind myself that henna is a natural product, which really does vary depending on the user’s body chemistry—and many other factors, too, like lifestyle, placement of the design on the body, how long the henna paste is left on the skin, etc.

But just a reminder! Intensity of color may be affected by these unlikely culprits:

1. Stress

2. Fatigue or weak constitution

3. Time of the month (for women)

4. Body temperature (if you’re chilly by nature, your color will come out lighter–drink a hot beverage during and after application)

5. Medications, which may influence the body’s natural chemical composition

Henna is a plant, which grows out of the earth, which, famously, is wildly unpredictable! And maybe, henna just likes to stay mysterious so that we humans can continue exploring her, and discovering her secrets.

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