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How to Remove a Henna Stain


Nasty henna. All henna artists have done it, but hopefully we did it before we were asking people to pay for our services. (See Itching to go Pro for tips on how to tell when you're ready!). But some artists dive in before they're ready and offer their services at markets and festivals, leaving customers unhappy and wondering how they can get rid of it quickly. If you're a beginner practicing on yourself and others, these tips will also help give you a clean canvas ready for the next design.

This article is referring only to natural henna. For information on black or chemical henna, see Black Henna and Other Risky Business.

First of all, take a read of the Before and Aftercare information. Then do all the opposite! Seriously! Those suggestions are there for a reason, they protect your henna from things that will prematurely fade it. 

There are four that can reduce the intensity of a henna stain... time it is on the skin, preventing the development of the stain, bleaching the colour, and removing the skin cells that contain the colour. One thing that does both of these well is a chlorine pool or a spa. Soaking in water for a length of time softens the upper layers of skin and encourages exfoliation (removal of dead skin) and the chlorine acts as a bleach, fading the stain considerably. After soaking for a while, give it a good rub to get the softened skin cells off, and let the chlorine do the rest.

Not everyone has a pool handy, and it's not always a good time of year to go for a swim so here's some other suggestions:

  • Wash it off! Wash it away as soon as you decide you don't really want it to last. Minimize the time it has to soak in. If you get a henna design wet in the first 8 ours it has a significant impact on how dark it gets. 
  • Have a warm shower every day, and give your stain a scrub. This will fade it faster, but it will still take several days to get rid of all traces. This is quite gentle on your skin, so it's a good option for those with sensitive skin.
  • Dab with lemon regularly. Lemon juice is a mild bleach and can help to fade things. I know I used it on my hair when I was a teenager! It can be quite drying, so some moisturising is probably in order after rinsing. Don't use it soon after a big scrub - the skin may be too sensitive. Don't be tempted to use lime juice. Google margarita burns images for a succinct reason not to do that. Trust me. 
  • Take a long luxurious warm bath and give yourself a salt or sugar scrub at the end. Your skill will be smooth and gorgeous, you'll be relaxed, and your henna will be faded (but not gone). Feeling better already!
  • Clean everything. Your bathroom could do with a scrub. Oops! Not great for henna! That's a win if it's awful. If you love your henna, wear gloves when you feel the need to scrub things or wash dishes.


That's about the extent of the safe ways to remove tear-inducing henna.  You can use any combinations of these, but please remember that your skin is vulnerable to damage and go gently. No henna is that bad that a cheese grater is called for!



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