Henna, a plant-based brown dye, has been used for centuries to decorate the skin. These days, henna is used for temporary tattooing, including the intricate hand art -- or mehndi -- frequently seen on brides in Indian and some Arabic cultures. Henna art will fade on its own after two to three weeks, but you can speed up the process with a combination of exfoliation and oil-based cleansing methods. Several techniques for washing and exfoliating will slough away dead skin -- and the henna along with it.
Rub the henna with a cotton ball soaked in pure olive oil. Leave the oil on your skin for at least 10 minutes, then wash and rinse your skin with warm water and soap. The oil will help break down the dye gently.
Coat the tattoo with a thick layer of hair conditioner. Like olive oil, conditioner's slippery, greasy texture helps dissolve some of the dye in the tattoo.
Pat a body scrub onto the tattooed area, then rub with a washcloth or loofah. Removing the top layers of dead skin will also remove layers of henna.
Squeeze the juice from one lemon into a small bowl. With a spoon, mix enough baking soda into the lemon juice to make a thick paste. Apply the mixture to the tattoo and wait for it to dry completely. Scrub the mixture away with a loofah. The lemon juice and baking soda act as a mild bleach and exfoliate. They will also dry out the skin slightly, and dry skin sheds its layers faster than moisturized skin.
Rub a lotion that lists alcohol as a primary ingredient onto your henna. Allow the alcohol in the lotion to dry the surface layers of skin, which aids exfoliation and speeds up henna fade.
Soak a cotton ball in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, which dries out skin and acts as a lightening agent and chemical exfoliate. Apply the cotton ball to the tattoo to saturate the skin and lighten the henna dye. Allow it to dry, then wash and rinse with soap and warm water.
Soak the tattooed area in warm, salty water for 20 minutes, then wash and rinse with soap and warm water. The salt will help dry and exfoliate the skin, removing some of the dye.
Rub the tattoo gently with toothpaste in a circular motion to gently exfoliate the skin. Allow it to dry, then wash and rinse with soap and warm water.
Pat a skin bleaching cream on the tattooed area. Use only as often as indicated on the cream's instructions, and follow the instructions carefully to avoid irritation or adverse reactions.
Swimming in a chlorinated pool may also help fade your henna. Chlorine is a mild bleaching agent and exfoliate. It can also dry out skin slightly.
Before you apply any chemical exfoliate to a large portion of skin, do a spot-test by applying the product to a small patch of skin. If you notice any redness, itching, burning or irritation in the next 24 hours, rinse immediately and use a different product.
"Black henna" is a chemical dye unrelated to traditional henna that may cause serious adverse reactions in some users, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
- Nirali: Culture: The Meaning of Mehndi
- Style Craze: 14 Simple and Safe Ways to Remove Mehndi
- The Washington Post: FDA: Beware of ‘Black Henna’ Tattoos
- The Artful Cricket: Will Anything Make My Henna Fade Faster?
- The Henna Body Art Kit: Everything You Need to Create Stunning Temporary Tattoos; Aileen Marron