Henna for men is typically just as intricate and carefully planned as it is for women. Though Indian women traditionally wear henna mehndi for ceremonies, like weddings and funerals, men may wear mehndi solely for decoration. Masculine designs are also typically span a larger area than female designs, taking up more of a man’s body. Men’s mehndi, or henna, designs typically feature animals and celestial bodies rather than flowers and vines. The details are also usually sharper and sometimes bulkier than women’s designs.
When choosing henna for men, one must first consider the occasion. A man headed to the beach may want a large, bulky tribal design that spans his entire upper back. He might also choose patterns that cover his shoulders, run vertically down his spine, or creep onto his ribcage. Design ideas include thorny briars, sharply pointed waves curling into each other, or a decorative series of hatch-marks. Henna mehndi designs can look especially striking if they highlight a man’s musculature.
Gentlemen that don’t plan to be shirtless often may like henna for men on their forearms, hands, or feet. Though hand and foot designs are usually a woman’s domain, henna tattoos in these areas can generally be easily manipulated to look masculine. In place of lotus flowers and filigree work, a man’s hand tattoo might include a leafless tree with craggy roots that wrap around his wrist. Other options include looped and coiled dragons, Japanese kanji characters, and stylized animals. This variety of henna for men may work well on the wrists, palms, the bottoms of the feet, calves, or forearms.
Men may be attracted to mehndi henna tattoos because they want try out a certain design before making it permanent. Others may be adverse to permanent designs, but may see henna tattoos as a statement or simply as decoration. Guys getting henna tattoos should typically shave the area where they want the mehndi design and bathe before applying it. Even a man’s natural oils can prevent the paste from sticking and darkening properly, resulting in a blotchy design. Those without time to bathe before applying henna paste may clean the area with a rubbing alcohol wipe instead.
Creating henna for men, or women, takes some preparation. Henna paste is generally a mixture of green, pure henna powder stirred together with lemon juice. The mixture is typically allowed to sit overnight so the henna oxidizes and begins to release its dyes. After that, a man may apply the paste to his skin with a paintbrush or a small squeeze bottle with a tapered tip.
The henna paste must dry for four to 12 hours before being wiped away with a soft cloth. Gentlemen that want to leave the design on overnight may cover it in medical tape. The design may look bright orange at first, but usually darkens over time to a deep red, or even black. The longer the paste is allowed to dry on the skin, the darker the design will become.