The search for safe, sunless tanning options has led many people to consider alternatives like henna for getting that colorful glow. Henna is the Persian name for a small, yellow or pink flower native to Asia and Africa’s Mediterranean coast. Henna produces a red dye when ground into a fine powder. Henna creates a reddish-brown toned tan and when mixed and applied correctly, it can be a feasible sunless, self-tanning option. Using a diluted henna paste made with the powder works well as a self-tanner by itself or you can also mix it with a neutral, unscented lotion to produce the tanning effects you desire—without the worry of skin cancer from the sun’s rays.

Things You'll Need

Mix your finely ground henna powder in a bowl with water and one to two teaspoons of lemon juice. The water dilutes the henna powder and the acidity of the lemon juice helps bring out the effectiveness of the dye. Keep adding water until the henna mixture is a watery paste—almost a liquid.

Add one to two teaspoons sugar to keep the henna mixture from cracking and to help the dye adhere better to your skin.

Cover the henna paste with plastic and let it sit until the dye is released. The mixture should look reddish-brown.

Mix the henna paste with a fragrance-free, natural lotion or oil. You want the lotion to be more of a liquid base and free of as many chemicals as possible, so as not to interfere with the henna dye. You can find fragrance free lotions, like Lubriderm and Aveeno, at your local drugstore.

Use latex gloves to apply the sunless tanning henna lotion on all areas of your body you wish to tan. Depending on how dark of a tan you want, let the mixture sit for ten minutes to several hours and then rinse off. Any orange or red coloring should fade to a light reddish-brown or bronze within a few hours.