Henna Tattoo Aftercare – The Ultimate Guide to Darker, Long Lasting Mehndi

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By Anna Marikar

A lot of people are curious about mehndi, so here’s a guide for beginners on how to get a darker, longer lasting henna tattoo that looks amazing

This article will share everything you need to know about henna tattoo aftercare, including henna tattoo tips and henna tattoo aftercare with simple steps to help your mehndi design last longer and with a deeper color. 

With a good aftercare routine, your beautiful henna design will look better for longer.

henna hands

How to Get a Dark Stain for Your Henna Tattoo

The final results and how your henna stain turns out can vary based on your skin type, skin tone and body chemistry but there are a few things you can do to help deepen the final color.

Firstly, make sure that the henna or mehndi that you are using is of a good quality and from a trusted source.

Avoid black henna which has a chemical added (called PPD) which can be toxic. Some people have very bad reactions to this, including skin burns. It is always better to stick to the natural henna, which can still give you a beautiful deep brown color, or reddish brown color.

henna paste natural

By taking proper care of your henna or mehndi you can avoid getting a much lighter stain, which is more of an orange-yellow stain, and a version that most people don’t prefer.

After completing the henna design and allowing the henna paste to dry, applying lemon and sugar helps to darken and deepen the mehndi color. We will explain this simple process in a moment, and why it is worth the extra step.

applying henna

Adding Terps

One safe and natural way to darken the color of your henna is to “terp” your henna. Terps refers to terpenes and although some are dangerous and should be avoided (gasoline for example.. don’t go there!) there are some essential oils which contain these, and can be safely used to enhance your color.

You can try

  • Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Cajeput
  • Ravensara
  • Lavender
  • Cypress
  • Cardamom
essential oils for henna

Henna Sugar and Lemon Process

After your henna artist has finished with the henna design, and the mehndi paste is dry to the touch, it’s time to apply some sugar and lemon to help set your color to a nice dark shade.

how to make lemon and sugar mixture to preserve henna tattoos, and why it works

You just need to mix a little lemon juice and sugar (equal parts) and then dab this mixture onto your henna design using cotton balls. Be careful and gentle, you do not want to smudge the henna!

You can also mix these two ingredients into a spray bottle and spray the sugar lemon mixture over your henna design if you prefer.

Why does lemon and sugar work to darken henna?

It works by adding moisture, helping to prevent the paste from drying out completely and flaking off from your skin, and helping the henna to react with your skin cells to set the color.

The lemon and sugar mixture will preserve and protect your henna and seal the design.

Peeling off the Dried Henna Paste

henna on hand

The longer you can leave the dried henna paste on your hands, the deeper and darker the color will be. 6 to 8 hours is great.

If you apply henna in the evening, then try to leave the paste until morning, and then peel it off.

Staying warm also helps your henna color to set more deeply, this is why you see great results in warmer countries but keeping the heating on at home, or just keeping yourself in a warm environment and keeping your body temperature up can help.

When removing the henna paste, peel or pick off the dried flakes. Do not use water, and do not rub, just carefully peel the dried paste away.

henna design hands

How to Help Your Henna Last Longer

You can help prolong the life of the stain, and keep your mehndi in good condition with a long lasting stain by avoiding or minimising certain activities when you have freshly applied henna on your hands.

Henna on the inside of your palms tends to fade quickest, compared to on the outer sider of the hands or elsewhere on the body.

henna inside palms

For the first couple of weeks with your henna tattoo, if you avoid heavy housework especially washing dishes, this will help to prolong the life of your henna tattoo.

Of course this applies much more if the henna is on your hands, whereas if you have a less traditional placement such as on your upper arm or other parts of the body this will be less relevant.

Avoid harshly scrubbing the areas or using exfoliants, and harsh chemicals as any of these will speed up the fading process.

You also want to avoid hot tubs and swimming pools with chlorine, when you have a fresh henna tattoo, or jagua tattoo.

Some people use jagua gel as an alternative to henna, which may last slightly longer (although both will typically look good for 1-2 weeks)

Jagua gel for a jagua tattoo is a fruit based gel whereas henna is a leaf based paste, so both are natural temporary tattoo but a different type of natural dye.

henna tattoo on shoulders

Henna Aftercare Oils and What to Use on your Mehndi

You can keep the area moisturised and hydrated with the use of simple products such as Vaseline, olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil.

Using oil on your skin slows down exfoliation, helping the design to last longer.

You can buy henna balm to use, or make your own version using a combination of beeswax and natural oils such as coconut oil, or cocoa butter.

white person with henna on hands

How to Remove Henna?

So, you looked after your henna tattoo really well, but all good things come to and end and after some time the mehndi will start to fade, and can become patchy, fading un-evenly.

Once it’s looking worse for wear, you probably want to speed up the henna removal process. So here’s how:

Soak with salt water

This helps to exfoliate your skin and expedite the henna removal process

Use a Sugar Scrub

This natural exfoliating method will help remove the upper layers of skin where the henna designs are darkest, revealing the fresh clean skin underneath. You can use one of our super simple diy sugar scrub recipes – lavender, or cherry.

Baby oil

Baby oil is good at breaking down pigment, so applying this on the area and rubbing onto your skin can help.

henna mehndi on hands

Henna Tattoo FAQs

You may still have a few more questions about how to care for henna tattoos, so hopefully this information will help you out and answer all of your burning questions and queries.

How long should my henna tattoo last?

1-2 weeks

Will I get allergic reactions from henna?

Typically no, if you avoid black henna. Henna is a natural product however it is always wise to do a test on a small area of skin if you have never used this before as it’s better safe than sorry.

Can I wash my hands after getting henna?

Avoid washing your hands for a few hours while you let the paste set. So, go pee before having the henna applied so you don’t need to visit the bathroom and wash your hands.

Does henna get darker after you take it off?

It can take time for the color to deepen on some people, so it may be darker the next morning

What to do after henna peels off?

When it’s time for paste removal, peel off the dry paste to reveal the henna dye underneath and then you can go about your daily activities as normal, taking a little extra care if you can, but at that point you can get it wet as required and go about your day normally.

How long to keep henna on hands?

Try to keep the dry henna paste on for 6-8 hours before peeling it off, and then your design should last well for a couple of weeks

How to protect henna in the shower?

You can apply Vaseline before showing, and use any henna aftercare oil such as coconut oil, or a henna after care balm to apply to your hands after showering, or throughout the day.


We hope you found our henna aftercare guide helpful, and that you can get the best results for your henna designs.

Want to practice drawing your henna designs, use our free printable hand templates over on our sister site In The Playroom.

Or if you’re looking for something more permanent check out these gorgeous Arabic tattoos with meanings and get to know about proper tattoo aftercare, like how to sleep with a new tattoo.

henna tattoo aftercare guide, how to get a darker color for mehndi and how to preserve henna

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Anna is a Wales-based writer and graduate from SOAS University of London.
As the voice behind On Your Journey, she empowers women to embrace holistic well-being and spiritual growth through her expert insights into wellness and symbolism.
When she isn't writing thought-provoking articles, you'll find her busy crafting and raising her 4 children.

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