What – Lemon Sugar Syrup
Who uses it? – Henna artists and practitioners who want to get a deep dark henna stain, or who find that their henna paste is drying and peeling off the skin too quickly.
Why does it work? – The lemon sugar syrup keeps the henna paste moist and in place for several hours. The henna dye molecule (called ‘Lawsone’) can move around moist paste, but it can’t move around dry paste, so the longer the paste is moist and in contact with the skin, the more opportunity there is for lawsone molecules to find their way into the skin. The syrup keeps the paste nice and moist, but not so wet that it smudges.
When do you apply it? – This is the tricky bit! You need to wait for the henna paste to be surface dry, and ‘un-smudgeable’, then apply the syrup gently. You want enough syrup to keep the paste moist, but not so much that it causes the henna paste to run.
How do you make it? – Place a small amount of table sugar (granulated) in a small heavy saucepan and add enough lemon juice to make the sugar wet. For example two table spoons of sugar and four tablespooons of lemon juice. Heat the lemon and sugar gently, stirring it all the time, until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool and then decant into a bottle ready to use. Everyone has different preferred syrup thickness and it might take a few attempts for you to get your perfect consistency.
You can also make a rosewater or orange flower water syrup seal which adds a lovely fragrance to your henna work. Just substitute the rosewater or orange flower water for the lemon juice. If you want to, you can add other ingredients to this syrup but remember that you will need to tell your customers what is in the syrup so that they can decide if they would like to have it applied or not.
How do you use it? There are three main ways to apply lemon sugar seal. Once the henna paste has become touch dry, but not completely dry, you can dab the lemon sugar syrup on, very gently, using a cotton wool ball. The second method is to spray the seal on using a plastic spray bottle.
Alternatively, a third way is to add a small amount (1 tsp per 25g – 50g according to preference) of the lemon sugar syrup seal to your henna paste and gain some of the benefits of a paste that stays moist without having to seal. This is good for events where you need to work very quickly.
You can follow the seal with wrapping the henna, either with tissue or unrolled cotton wool balls.
Are there any things I should be aware of? – Well the first thing to realise is that some people are intolerant of lemon juice on their skin because they have a citrus allergy. The second thing to remember is that lemon sugar syrup will attract bees, wasps and other insects so if you are working at an outdoor event you might want to avoid using a syrup seal.