Henna is a natural plant dye that takes a while to fully develop. There are 5 major stages in the life cycle of a henna design.
Stage 1: Henna Paste On
Henna paste is a dark brown color. It is applied to the skin and then should sit there as long as possible before being taken off.
Most photos of henna clients are taken at this stage, since we only get a chance to photograph them just after we’ve finished applying their design.
Stage 2: Henna Paste Off
Once the henna is taken off, the color you see is a bright pumpkin orange. Sometimes people are worried that their henna didn’t come out dark enough when they see this. Don’t panic – that’s what it should look like.
Stage 3: Darker after 24 hours
Over the next 24 hours, the henna stain develops considerably. The color darkens, adding brown and sometimes red tones.
Stage 4: Darkest after 48+ hours
Even though the stain usually looks pretty good after 24 hours, sometimes it can take 48 or even 72 hours to fully develop. Note here that the stain is just a bit more mahogany than the previous stage.
Stage 5: Usually within 3 weeks
Henna stains fade differently on different people and different parts of the body.
On the palm, henna typically fades back to light orange before completely disappearing. On other areas of the body, it tends to become a similar, but lighter, color before it completely fades away. Typically a design lasts between 1-3 weeks, with 10 days being the average.
The above example features Jamila henna.
Here is another henna stain progression photo series, this time with Mohana: