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The Idiot's Beginner's Guide to Mehndi

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I love Mehndi. 

That might not sound quite so odd being that I'm Indian, but as a youngster I absolutely hated the stuff. I think that was probably down to the fact that nobody in the family could do it properly at the time, so I used to end up with two big brown circles on my hands. They were meant to be the Sun. Oh and also the scent that used to linger once the mehndi had developed into it's rich brown shade.

It's all changed now though, I can't get enough of the stuff. No longer can I detect that lingering smell, not sure what kind of mehndi my family used but the stuff I get is practically odourless. Although I kind of like the idea of tattoos, I'm incredibly fickle so would never get one done as I know that as I grow older I will undoubtedly ask myself 'Why?', particularly as wrinkles begin to take hold of the designs! So mehndi is the next best thing.

Now I'm no artiste, and even though I have steady hands when it comes to applying eyeliner, when it comes to mehndi it's a completely different story. I'm hopeless! But where there's a will there's a way, and I've found a workaround that almost makes me look like a pro with the mehndi cone!

So if, like me, you're not so hot with a cone in hand, you'll love this little cheat I recently re-discovered:
 
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SECRET WEAPON

Mehndi stencils! Sweet, sweet nostalgia. I purchased mine off eBay on the cheap. I recall seeing these everywhere when I was younger. They come in the form of stickers which can be stuck onto your hands, feet or pretty much any part of your body! Once you've done that, you just fill in the gaps with your Mehndi cone. Sounds simple, right? 

WRONG! The hands are far, far too small (unless you're 5 years old!) and the feet are even worse! So as usual I found myself having to adapt them a little to work for me. I just seperated the digits from the main part of the hand and stuck them on individually. Also, from the stickers it's pretty clear what areas of the body they are actually intended for but I found that they can be easily used elsewhere.

In the photos above, I've used the sections intended for the ankles on my wrists and you can see that it doesn't look out of place! 

Once I've filled in the gaps I let the mehndi dry to the touch. The next step is to apply a lemon juice and sugar mixture to the dried mehndi and wrap around the area in cling film, with the stencil still in place. I'd then leave this on overnight whilst I sleep and unwrap it in the morning. I tend to find that the combination of the lemon juice/sugar mixture and leaving the mehndi on overnight results in incredibly dark mehndi!

I always apply mehndi at night just before bed as I find that the longer it's left on for, the better. The lemon juice and sugar makes the dried-up mehndi stick to the skin much better, the cling film also seals the area restricting break-off during the night.

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I have to mention the Mehndi cone that I use. I've no idea who makes it or what it's called as it's all written in Hindi. All I know is that back in India it costs 10 Rupees per cone, and that it's pretty darn good! Over here in Manchester, I buy two for £1 from Anand Fashions on Wilmslow Road. I'm there every week hauling on their jewellery and bindis!

I find that one can never have enough bindis, they only really last for a day and because they're so small they always seem to disappear. Also, they're so pretty that I've actually had a girl physically hit me on her birthday, ordering me to give one to their friend! What is this? High school? Anyway enough about the deluded peeg, if you live in Manchester or are just passing through I highly recommend you check out Anand Fashions.

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So there you have it! The Mehndi was a lot darker however I took the photos a couple of days later and it's still looking good! 

Next up I will be attempting to use the stencils all over my hands. How do you girls apply your mehdni, any hints and tips?

 Halima
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