The Art of Mehndi Designing

12 months ago / by Melanie Fourie
Mehndi Designing
Friends or family of the bride, and women in the bridal party get mehndi designs for weddings too.
Image credits: Pixabay

The term mehndi has become increasingly popular, especially with Indian brides. It’s essentially the use of henna to create temporary, intricately breathtaking designs on hands, fingers, and arms. So what exactly is henna? Well, the scientific name for this is Lawsonia Inermis. Henna is a dye that comes from a tree called Egyptian Privet. The dye derived from the leaves of this plant is largely used to temporarily dye hair, leather, and your fingers. Better yet, it’s used by mehndi artists to create the most exquisite body art. 

Henna tattooing or mehndi designing, is also used to mark the beginning of celebratory occasions in South Asia and Africa like birthdays and nuptials. The application of these designs are also used to celebrate Eid. Muslim women use henna to decorate their hands after the Ramadhan fast, before celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr.

The Difference between Henna and Mehndi

Simply put, henna is the paste used to create these marvelous designs. It’s the art of applying the henna paste. Mehndi designing plays a pivotal role in Indian weddings. Usually, there are wedding events taking place a week before the ceremony. Mehndi designing commences at the beginning of this pre-marital week. 

This henna paste is melded with a plethora of essential oils. So why essential oils? Well, these have a way of helping the bride-to-be relax. Mehndi designing is the Indian bride’s version of a manicure, and they are indeed prepared to sit for hours having this work of art completed. Women in the bridal party also often opt for menhdi designing for the big day, although their designs may be a tad tinier. Did you know that it could take more than 4 hours just to complete one wedding mehndi design? 

The Types of Mehdi Design

A very specific type is, and because it’s nuptials, is the design featuring the bride on one part of the hand, and the groom on the other side of the hand, facing her. Then there are of course the paisley patterns which are essentially a signature look with mehndi designing. You’ll also get to see a lot of Moroccan-style emblems. These include a lot of different geometric shapes like curves with some tribal designs.

Other designs on the bride’s hands could be a design of the bridal couple together. One of the most popular bridal styles include the drawing of flowers. This is essentially, created in an Arabic pattern. Perhaps the artist will design a few bunches of the bride’s favorite blossoms. Also note that vines are super popular with these types of drawings. 

So what exactly are bride’s able to request? Well, when it comes to mehndi designing, they can pretty much ask for anything they love or anything that has sentimental value or meaning to them.  Some brides have asked for intricate patterns of well-loved logos, things they love most about the town or city they grew up in, and even their favorite domestic or wild animals. The bride can request drawings of the couple’s favorite traditions too. 

Western-style mehndi designs usually consist of full hand mehndi design, as well as front hand simple mehndi design. These designs are often quirky and others are modern. Indian style mehndi design often comprises trails and checkered dots as well. Then there is of course the Pakistani-style mehndi design. This consists of patterns resembling mosques, leaves, and mandala patterns. Another type of mehndi-design is the Indo-Arabic mehndi design. This includes a lot of empty spaces between vivid lines, leaves, and even paisleys. African type mehndi designs include mostly tribal motifs with bold borders and empty spaces along those.

That said, that art of mehndi designing is not just to acquire a beautiful design or henna story painted on your hands, fingers, or arms. You’ll have to make some sacrifices with this art form too. For instance, you won’t be able to allow it to get wet for an entire day, plus you will have to sleep with it on, so the color won’t fade. You should also always ask the person applying the henna whether it’s organic or not. Always opt for organic henna, as if there is additional artificial coloring in the henna, it may be harmful to your skin. 

How to Do Simple Henna Designs for Beginners

Having your mehndi design done by a professional artist is great, but nothing quite beats that feeling of accomplishment when you design your own henna tattoos. You need not be that great in drawing, as you can choose the more simple patterns and still look beautiful. Who knows, with a little practice and patience, you might just pro. 

You will need a white eyeliner. Any white eyeliner is fine, so don’t worry about obtaining a specific brand. You are also going to need some henna and mix it into a paste. Next, think of any simple form or shape. If you can’t come up with any form at the top of your head, you can also Google, and see what the search engine comes up with. Once you decide on an easy mehndi design, you can just work from there. If you can’t remember it off your computer screen, simply do a quick drawing on a sheet of paper. 

Did you know that simple flowers, dots, and leaves are basically going to be your best buddy when it comes to simple mehndi design with henna, as this simply looks best. You should not forget to include some squiggly lines in your finger mehndi design or henna design for beginners. Or even go for a lovely chain link bracelet. Look around at some of the jewelry stores to get a feel for what the latest simplistic jewelry designs are and then duplicate that as a new mehndi design onto your hand or fingers. 

Take your henna and get comfortable with the consistency of the paste. Use the white eyeliner to draw your design or simple mehndi design. Ensure that all asymmetrical parts are matched. If you’d never used henna before, here is what it should look like. It’s basically a brownish-burgundy hue, and has this really earthy whiff. A word of warning though; if you don’t like the smell of it, it’s best to refrain from using it, as the smell stays there for a long time, irrespective of whether you’ve washed it a few times. Also, one great piece of advice to adhere to is to always first do a patch test to ascertain whether or not you are allergic to henna. Also, make sure that you are not using a black henna, as opposed to organic henna. Apparently the black henna has a dye in there that can affect the color of your simple mehndi design. It also comprises a chemical that may be harmful to your skin. If you’re not sure before you use the henna, simply look for a greenish brownish hue. If it’s that color, no worries, as you’ve acquired the correct henna type. Don’t worry about the green hue, as the henna does not look like that after its developing time. It’s normally a brownish-reddish color. Also note that the shade the back of your hand, may look slightly different to the shade on the palm of your hand. 

That being said, once you’ve drawn the guide with your white eyeliner, be careful not to touch the henna on other items when it’s wet, as henna will stain those items. Remember that it can literally take about two minutes for a henna stain to develop on items. Next, apply the henna to the white eyeliner guide. It doesn’t have to match the white eyeliner though. Remember that this is just a guide, and you can remove the white eyeliner afterwards. 

Once the simple mendhi design is done, allow it to dry. It will appear caked. You may then peel or wash it off. 

Simple Mehndi Designs

  • The Mandala – This is basically a traditional design that represents the circle of life. Thus simple mendhi design commences at the center of the palm of your hand, and branches out from there. The entire design encapsulates a floral pattern on your fingers with a cuff design pattern too. 
  • Geometric Mehndi – this pattern is created on the fingers and the top of the hands with huge spaces in between. The designs here comprises great symmetry. 
  • The Flower Jewelry Design Trend – This design is similar to that of a hathphool. It consists of elements of flowers, but is not a design of an entire flower. With this simple mendhi design, you don’t need much dots of an in-depth drawing. All you need here is a short trial of dots and a few twirling lines. You also don’t need a lot of flower elements for this design.
  • The Khafif Mehndi Pattern – This pattern looks like a lacy glove that starts just beneath the fingernails. You may use a combination of various motif for this one. For instance, choose a range of florals, leaf patterns with vines, as well as paisley designs.
  • The Shaded Mehndi Design – Here you can use a simple paisley and flower design on one half of the inside of your hand, including your thumb and index finger. You’ll have a lot of empty spaces between this pattern. You can then use a shading in method to fill up those empty spaces.
  • The Vine with Flowers – This simple mehndi design is a must-have for beginners who love floral designs. It’s don’t on the top if your hand from the tip of your index finger, extending toward your wrist. There are a lot of open spaces with this simple mehndi design. The flowers are winding. You can also create it like a meandering wine with some flowers attached to it. 
  • The Painted Fingertip Mehndi Motif – Seeing your henna has a burgundy-brown hue, take some and apply it to your fingertips. You may extend the henna dip further up each finger for added boldness. Then start with a swirl design between your thumb and index finger. The rest of the pattern has to flow from there in a floral trend. 
  • The Simplistic Backhand Mehndi – Start this simple mendhi design with a swirl on your index finger. The swirl should develop into a vine with a flower on top. This pattern can reach your wrist. There are a lot of open spaces here. There is also no shading in with this type of design. 
  • The Arabic Design – This simple mehndi design is done on the inside of your hand, the inside of your palm and wrist, and your fingers. There are a lot of flowers and twirls used with this pattern. 
  • The Lotus – This simple Mehndi design is ideal for weddings, as it’s very elegant. You can do this one on the top of your hands and fingers. The pattern may also extend beyond your wrists, and wind all the way down to the top of your arms. So what does this entail? Well, all that’s drawn here are simplistic vines mixed with eye-catching lotus flowers. 
  • An Eclectic Combination – There’s nothing more unique with mehndi designing than mixing a round or circular patterns with a bunch of lines. You can have so much fun with this and start the pattern with an intricate circle on the palm of your hand, and then move from there. 
  • The One-Finger with Partial Hand Design –   This design focuses primarily on the one finger. It’s also design on the top of your hand. You can use a pretty leaf pattern, starting at your fingernail. When you get to the top of your hand, begin with your floral design. This will make it look like you are wearing an elegant ring. This simple mehndi design stops before you get to the top of your wrist. 
  • The Teardrop Mehndi Design – This exquisite design focuses on the top of your hand. The main pattern is that of a vine of teardrops, with leaves attached to certain segments of the pattern. The pattern commences at the top of the index finger, in the form of a line of leaves. It then branches out into the tear vine. For a bolder vine outline, you can shade the tear-shaped outlines. 
  • The Minimalistic Design – To achieve a simple, yet intricate design, you should draw a simple mandala on the top of your hand in the center. You can then draw a paisley motif at the top of each finger. For a striking design, draw the design from the tip to the middle of each finger.
  • The Fuller Floral Design – Draw this one of the palm of your hand, and extend it to the top of your index fingers and the inside of your thumb. The flowers here are not sparsely drawn. One the basic design is there, fill in some more detail to it, for a fuller aesthetic. Make sure you add a lot of detail to the leaves of the flowers too, as this will make the design more spectacular. 
  • The Backhand One-Finger Mehndi Patten – Draw some leafy twirls, starting from the tip of the finger you’ve chosen to paint. You may use dots, as well as lines, before aching the center of your hand. When you get to the center of the pattern, draw a geometric shape, like a triangle. You may then branch out with a swirling flower, connected with a series of well-positioned dots. 

Mehndi Designs for Kids

As mentioned before, mendhi forms part of several festivity types celebrated by South Asians, including children. The primary difference between adult and kiddie mehndi application is the amount of time taken to complete the design. Kids don’t have sometimes have the patience to sit getting a design done, whereas an adult could sit for hours. Therefore, the majority of mehndi designs for kids are simple ones. If your little girl loves emulating the adult ladies, here are some easy designs you could choose for her. 

  • Flowers with a Hanging Chain – This is surely a minimalist look. You could do this on a toddler’s hand. It done on the upper side of the hand, so there won’t be much discomfort for the child keeping their hand turned over while designing occurs. You may draw a flower with a stem on the top of the index finger. Extend the design with a chain created with simple lines connected some dots. Then draw two flowers on the other end of the hand. Basically these flowers are connected with a plain doted chain of about three lines. 
  • A Simplistic Combo Design – You could create something consisting of a number of patterns in a single design, just like artist’s do when they engage in mehndi design for adults. Get creative and have fun by adding elements like flora, paisleys, dots, and lots of winding lines or twirls. Create this one on the upper side of the hand. You may extend to one finger, and then just add a few dots with plenty of open spaces on the other fingers. 
  •  Designing a Marvelous Haathphool – It’s a given that occasions like weddings are synonymous with jewelry, even for little girls. If you don’t want to bog your child down with all this, you could opt for a simple jewelry design instead. Try some simple dotted chains on the upper side of the child’s hands or across the wrists. You can also design simple henna flowers in the center and then join a finger and the flower with a dotted line. Or draw a broad ring with the henna on one of the child’s fingers. 
  • Baby Mehndi Designing – Draw the simplest patterns like a single flower emblem with surrounding dots. Baby hand are super tiny, so your design won’t be huge or take long to draw. You can also match this flowery look with a romper with a tiny outfit with matching flowers to complete the look. 
  • Replicating Animated Characters – Take a simple image of cartoon character, and sketch this with henna onto the back of your child’s hands. 
  • Animal Mehndi Design – If you know what your child’s favorite zoo animal, design it on the back of his or her hands with henna. Keep the illustration basic, as you don’t want the child to sit for too long. If you’re not sure which animal to draw, get some inspiration from their favorite coloring book. 
Mehndi Designing
An Indian bride with some exquisite mehndi designs.
Image credits: Pixabay


What are the different types of mehndi design?

Various types include Indian, Western-style, Arabic, Moroccan, and Indo-Arabic Mehndi styles and influences.

What are the famous types of mehndi design?

The most popular styles at weddings are drawings of the bride on one side of the drawing, with the groom facing her on the other side of the drawing. Some bridal pairs choose designs of a place or item that has huge sentimental significance to them. Styles include dots, lines, twirls, paisley, and plenty of flowers. If you are attending a momentous event, and don’t want to wear tons of heavy jewelry, you may draw some simple jewelry on your hands and wrists. You may also draw a more simplified jewelry design on a little girl’s hand. Other kid’s designs are of their favorite zoo animal or perhaps a popular animated character.