Henna, from the powdered leaves of the henna tree (Lawsonia Inermis) has been used as a dye for thousands of years. The archaeological record shows henna in use as a dye as far back as approximately 1574 BCE, in the hair of Ahmose-Henuttamehu, Child of the Moon, Mistress of Lower Egypt.
In North Africa, India, and the Middle East, henna has long been used to decorate the skin, hair and nails with a deep orange-brown tint. In Europe in the 19th Century, henna hair dye was adopted by the aesthetic movement following artists such as Dante Gabriel Rosetti, whose wife and muse Elizabeth Siddal’s red hair was much admired.
While henna results in a red colour when used to dye protein fibres such as hair, skin, silk, or wool, it dyes cellulose fibres such as cotton and linen a soft yellow-green.