How To Henna Fingertips, Nails, and Feet
Part One of this two-part series explored the use of henna on fingertips, nails, and feet. Henna was used both as a cosmetic and as a way to heal and protect skin, nails, and hair.
To read Part One, click here.
This section will describe how to use henna paste to decorate and strengthen fingertips, nails, and feet.
Note for US Residents:
The color additive “henna” is approved by the FDA solely for the use of “hair dye” (see, 21 CFR 73.2190); it may not be used for dyeing the “eyelashes,” “eyebrows,” nor the “eye area” for cosmetic product applications. Neither is it approved for cosmetic “skin tattoo” purposes. To use a color additive in any cosmetic product application for which it is not listed for regulation renders it “adulterated” and/or “misbranded.” (see section 601(a) and/or 601(e), and/or 602(e) of the FD&C Act)
If you live outside of the US, this does not apply to you.
Always make sure you are using only 100% Body Art Quality (BAQ) henna whether it is on the hair or skin.
How to Apply Henna to Fingertips
Save this for a time when you don’t need your hands. I do this before bed, and sleep with wrapped fingertips.
Henna on smaller areas of the body is easily done with a rolled mylar cone filled with henna. If you are unfamiliar with how to roll and fill cones, click here to learn.
You will need:
A cone of henna for outlining. (Or you can use medical tape. See below.)
A small bowl or shot glass with about 1T henna. (You can just squeeze out the rest of your cone after outlining.)
A small brush
Toilet paper or other soft paper
Start with clean hands that do not have lotion or oils on them.
Use the cone to draw an outline. You may need a friend to help if you wish to do both hands.
Alternatively, you can wrap a strip of medical tape around each finger. The result will be a nice, crisp line. You will want to choose a waterproof tape with a straight edge (some have a zig-zag edge).
Fill in the skin from the line or the edge of the tape, to the tips of your fingers. I prefer to apply in layers, allowing each layer to dry. This prevents having fingers covered in a thick layer of wet paste that will take forever to dry.
Wait until the paste is dry enough to touch without lifting any away. A hair dryer can help speed up the process. Wrap tissue or toilet paper around each finger, securing with tape.
If you like, you can pull on a pair of stretchy fabric gloves. The warmth will deepen the stain, and the gloves keep the wraps from slipping off.
To remove, unwrap your fingertips and gently scrape the paste away with a wooden craft stick or the blunt side of a butter knife. A stiff nail brush helps to remove extra bits. Try to avoid water for the first few hours while the stain settles and oxidizes.
The stain will deepen over 24-48 hours. To expedite the process and darken the result, gently heat or steam your hands.
On the left, the fresh stain is bright orange. On the right, the stain has oxidized to a deep burgundy after 48 hours.
How to Apply Henna to Fingernails and/or Toenails
If you would like to stain only your nails rather than your fingertips the process is similar, and simpler.
You can do this either with a cone or a clean, small brush. A recycled nail polish brush would work nicely. Trim and shape your nails as you prefer.
Using a Cone
Squeeze the cone gently and fill over the nail using back and forth motions.
Using a Brush
Henna tends to slip over the surface of the nail, so it is helpful to use dabbing motions rather than treating it the way you would nail polish. Let the first layer set, and then go back in to fill any areas that are thin.
You can either choose to wrap your fingertips similarly as described above, or allow the paste to fully dry on the nails. Damp paste will continue to stain the skin, leading to darker results. If you let the paste dry, keep it on for as long as possible (several hours is good) before gently scraping it away.
Again, the result will be brighter at first, and deepen over the next couple of days. You can reapply to deepen the color, and apply as necessary as your nails grow. I find that doing this weekly keeps my nails a deep red hue. My nails grow longer and chip less when I maintain hennaed nails.
Henna will stain the nail permanently, so if you choose to stop applying henna to your nails, a good way to hide half-hennaed nails is to paint them over with polish until the stained portion grows and is clipped away.