Creating henna body art requires more than just henna paste. A few henna supplies a body artist might need are ceramic bowls, plastic spoons, lemon juice and water, essential oils, paintbrushes and applicator bottles, and purple tattoo pens or henna stencils. Artists may also need medical tape or ace bandages and tattoo balm to help the paste dry and oxidize to a very dark color.
The initial henna supplies every artist needs are henna powder, lemon juice, essential oils, and a bowl and a spoon. These are the basic materials for making henna paste at home. Some artists may prefer to purchase pre-mixed henna paste, which is often mixed in perfect proportions. Those making it at home should mix the liquids and powder together according to the package instructions. Different varieties of henna require different proportions of lemon juice and oils to help the dyes release and become very dark.
Using ceramic bowls over plastic is important to keep chemicals from the plastic from leaching into the henna. The mixed paste must sit for at least an hour in the bowl, then goes on the skin and seeps into it. Ceramic bowls prevent chemicals from the plastic from being carried into the skin by contaminated henna paste. Using a plastic spoon works well because the spoon doesn't generally remain in the paste long enough to do any harm.
While the paste is releasing dye, the artist may use other henna supplies to prepare the skin for decoration. Purple tattoo pens allow freehand artists to create organic and freeform designs. These pens are designed to stay on the skin without bleeding and are non-toxic, and can be purchased from most body art supply shops. Kits containing henna supplies often provide stencils that can be placed against the skin. Artists who want perfect designs may trace these with the tattoo pen to recreate traditional henna tattoo designs.
Once the dye has released, the artist requires henna supplies for applying the paste. Options for this include paintbrushes and applicator bottles. Paintbrushes apply thick layers of henna paste to a large area of skin, while applicator bottles usually work better for fine details. These small, plastic squeeze bottles have special tapered tips that can be used like pens to trace designs. In a pinch, a plastic bag with a hole snipped in the corner can replace an applicator bottle.
The last few henna supplies the artist requires are medical tape or ace bandages to cover the dried tattoo, and balm for making the design darker. The paste should be allowed to dry on the skin before it is wrapped with either medical tape or an ace bandage. This keeps the paste from getting on clothing or bedding and allows the tattoo more time to soak into the skin. When the paste is gently flaked off with a dry cloth, it should leave behind an orange stain. Henna balm rubbed into this stain will help it become very black and perhaps even last longer.