Steeped in tradition, henna tattoo or mehendi, as it are known, is an ancient Indian body art used to create intricate designs on the hands and feet of women, especially at the time of marriage or other festive occasions. This non-permanent, painless method of acquiring great tattoos is as close as you can get to the real thing.
The henna tattoos are made using a pigment paste made from the henna plant and painted on the skin. For this the leaves and stems of the plant are dried and crushed. The ground green powder is then mixed with an acidic liquid such as lemon juice or a strong tea to form a paste that creates red, brown, and orange stains on skin. The designs usually fade away in a few weeks.
Although usually used by women, henna tattoos are equally popular with men. The designs can range from small and intricate to large, mystical and whimsical. Here is a look at some henna tattoo ideas for men.
Tribal Tattoo Designs
The very popular and sought after tribal tattoos draw inspiration from the art and culture of Maori, Haida, and Polynesia. Characterized by the stark black, arching lines the designs usually consist of parallel or intersecting lines, and curves that are thick on one end and come to a point. The patterns consist of shapes of scorpions, fish, skulls, and many other interesting shapes. The curving arched lines not only look great on the arms and legs but also make for great tattoos on the back and the chest.
Celtic Tattoo Designs
A popular way of expressing the religious symbolism and culture, Celtic tattoo designs consist of interwoven lines representing knots, crosses, mazes, and spirals. The strong Norse design influences lend a sense of beauty to the crisscross interwoven lines. In fact, the intricate lines crisscrossing in the design are indicative of the cycles of life and the seasons.
Skull Tattoo Designs
The famed crisscross skull tattoos and other designs have a visual appeal unlike any other. The empty sockets of the skulls are a symbol of eternity, knowledge, and human vanity. Historically, during war time skulls represented victory and triumph. Signifying death, these designs can be crafted with mehendi using special skills.
Zodiac Henna Tattoos
Our never-ending fascination with the zodiac signs makes them another very appealing tattoo idea. Since each of the twelve signs has an animal or character associated with it, zodiac tattoos are a great way of showing off your own personal style. So a Leo can get a fiery lion tattoo or a Scorpio can get a cool scorpion tribal tattoo.
How to Get a Henna Tattoo
The entire process can be divided into three parts: making the henna tattoo cones, application of the tattoo, and after care.
Henna Tattoo Cones/Pens
For making precise, intricate mehendi you can choose henna pens available in the market. Make sure that you perform a patch test though, because these pens contain chemical preservatives which can cause skin allergies and irritation. Pens containing original mehendi colors last longer than the ones with artificial colors.
Drawing the Tattoos
Unless the skin is irritated by the patch test you can now start applying the mehendi and printing patterns. Make sure to clean the area with hot water and soap, and then remove the excess oils with an astringent-soaked cotton ball. While there are a number of designs that a skillful hand can create, beginners can stick to less complicated artwork.
Henna Tattoo Care
For longer lasting darker colors, the henna needs to stay on for at least four hours. Since warmer body temperatures produce better colors, keep the tattoo wrapped to increase the body heat. Once it dries properly, you can brush it off. Make sure that the mehendi does not come in contact with water for as long as possible, especially with chlorinated or salt water as it can reduce the vitality of the colors.
Henna tattoo designs are versatile and great for people who do not want a permanent tattoo but still love the idea of it. What's more it is easy enough for you to do it yourself, but for more intricate designs you might have to find a henna tattoo specialist to help you get a cool new tattoo.