Henna Foot Tattoos: Are They for You?
I love tattoos. Many people associate them with bikers and prisoners, but even nice girls have them. Foot tattoos seem to be popular with women (possibly because they make the feet look sexier). However, getting a tattoo on the foot is not pain free. Since there is no muscle on the top of the foot and the skin is very thin, foot tattoos can hurt and bleed when you get them done. Not fun— so I’m happy there’s a painless and bloodless alternative: henna.
Henna tattoos are beautiful and you don’t have to make a lifetime commitment. Henna tattoos go back thousands of years, possibly to ancient Egypt where the hands and feet of deceased Pharaohs were dipped in henna dye prior to mummification. This helped ensure a smooth trip to the afterlife.
From Egypt, the henna plant traveled to India (and eventually around the world). In India, these tattoos are called Mehndi, derived from the Sanskrit word mendhikā (henna plant). In a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, the bride wears intricate Mehndi designs on her arms, hands and feet. These dark and long-lasting Mehndi designs symbolize a long-lasting marriage.
Henna tattoos last one to four weeks, depending on your skin type and how often you wash the area. You can reapply the henna dye four or five times, but it usually won’t take after that—which can be a good thing. My dad would have been happier if my own tattoo were henna, and not permanent.
Henna dye is made by drying and crushing the leaves of the henna plant, then mixing it with oils and lemon juice to form a thick paste. A paste-filled cone is used to apply the design by hand. Stencils can also be used.
If you decide to give it a try, make sure the tattooist uses only 100% natural henna dye. The chemicals added to make “black henna” or “blue henna” can cause allergic skin reactions.
References and Resources
Henna History & Information
The History of Henna Tattoos
Information on Foot Tattoos
Some Pros and Cons of Foot Tattoos
- Patty Boyd, IPFH Roving Reporter
Photo by Patty Boyd: Vendor at the 2013 Carolina Renaissance Festival