Henna is a type of plant that grows in the Mediterranean area. The leaves of the henna plant are ground to form a fine powder, which is then mixed with water to create a thick mud-like paste. Artists use a brush, stick, or fine plastic nozzle to apply the paste to the skin, creating intricate patterns and designs on various parts of the body. It is common to drizzle a mixture of sugar with either lemon or lime juice over the completed design to help seal the pattern and enhance the colour. Some people wrap plastic film around the design for a few hours to encourage longevity. The paste hardens and eventually cracks and falls away from the skin, leaving behind the colourful pattern on the skin. Henna designs can last for several weeks. In Morocco, it is most common for people to decorate their hands and feet with henna.

Historic use of henna

Also known as mendhi, the use of henna to adorn the body is thought to have originated in North Africa, eventually spreading to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Asia by way of travelling traders. Written accounts of henna use date back to the Bronze Age, and henna features in centuries-old mythological tales.

Henna designs in Morocco can be traced back to the times of the early nomadic Berber communities that roamed the lands. Henna was used, whenever possible, at almost any joyous event. Battle victories, births, weddings and religious celebrations were all occasions when people would decorate themselves with henna.

In Morocco, henna has the right to all the honors

It is the ancestral marker of festive moments because its first quality is to beautify the person who adorns it.

Popular common sense reminds us of this unalterable truth in the form of a well-known saying: “Put on henna, and Allah will have mercy on you”.

The origins of makeup

Attracting the Creator’s mercy by expressing beauty on oneself is the secret power of this plant, so much so that the first known traces of henna date back more than 5000 years and are found on Egyptian mummies. A few millennia later, henna was rediscovered in ancient Assyria for wedding ceremonies.

Although it originated in India, the plant became part of the traditional uses of all peoples of the Muslim faith, especially since the Prophet Mohammed made it his favorite flower.

Dyeing the hair of women and men, adorning faces and hands with ephemeral tattoos, adorning nails, teeth, and even the sides of camels, henna is always there to attract the eye, whether it is the eye of the person you want to seduce or the eye of the spirits you are seeking protection from.

A plant with many benefits

It is undoubtedly the breadth of its beneficial panoply that has guaranteed henna its fame throughout the ages.

For its virtues are also medicinal when used in the form of oil, bark or seeds: not only does henna strengthen the hair and consolidate its shine, but it is also used to facilitate the healing of wounds, it soothes migraines and lowers fever, it calms burns or intestinal inflammation.

The last of the delights offered by these small discreet leaves, henna can give your skin a beautiful caramel color by way of tanning.
It is also said that the use of henna juice on the skin reduces its signs of aging and wrinkles…

Henna, Morocco, and tourism

Almost all tourists in Morocco will come across henna artists at some point during their stay. Many hotels and riads can arrange henna art services, whereby an artist comes to your accommodation to give you a stunning design.

Djemma el Fna in Marrakech is known for its abundance of ladies offering henna designs, though do be aware of common scams. The city also has several respectable henna cafés and stores offering beautiful designs. Place el Hedim in Meknes, Agadir beach, and the Henna Souk in Fez are other popular places for tourists to have a henna design applied. Henna artists can be found in many souks around the country, and it is also possible to buy supplies if you want to attempt to create your own skin art.

Although Moroccan henna is usually applied to the feet, hands, wrists, ankles, fingers, and toes, many tourists opt for henna tattoos on other parts of the body. Both men and women can have henna tattoos.

Tourists should be wary of people offering black henna designs. Black henna is derived from a different plant and may contain a chemical known as PPD. Not being true henna, the black dye can cause severe allergic reactions.