Henna markings and tattoos are a popular way to achieve an intricate design that lasts for several weeks, mimicking that of a permanent tattoo, both through tradition and trend.
Jagua gel is a similar method that has grown in popularity and is similar to henna, although offers its own set of benefits. Both are naturally derived ingredients that are sourced in their native regions, able to be done by beginners and professionals alike.
Jagua gel and henna have been used traditionally for years to create intricate markings on the hands, palms, and feet for celebratory and momentous occasions. Recently, it has also become a trendy method used to create temporary tattoos based on the lasting power it has on the skin.
While most of us are familiar with henna tattoos and their appearance, jagua gel does offer similar results, but with coloring closer to a permanent tattoo.
What is jagua gel and how does it relate to henna? Jagua gel and henna are similar in the sense they are both naturally derived and provide a temporary stain to the skin that lasts for several weeks. While jagua gel is derived from the jagua fruit, henna is derived from the henna plant, and they both come from different parts of the world.
Below we will discuss the details of jagua gel, how it is applied, and how it differs from henna to help you better understand which method might be for you!
What Is Jagua Gel?
Jagua is a fruit that is native to rainforests and areas of South America. The juice extract from the fruit can be used for various resources, such as food coloring and other food products.
However, when mixed into a gel with other natural ingredients, the jagua fruit extract turns into a gel product that can be used to stain the skin to give temporary tattoos, similar to traditional henna tattoos or markings.
The jagua fruit extract is deep in color, and the gel is often a shade of black or blue-black which is similar to the coloring of a traditional black tattoo.
Because of the deep color, the gel is able to be applied topically onto the skin and the dark color penetrates the skin to leave a stain behind. The stain lasts between 1-3 weeks, while naturally fading over time.
Jagua Gel Application Process
Jagua gel is applied to the top of the skin most commonly with a bottle and blunt-end needle applicator. The skin is not pierced during a jagua gel application, unlike it would be with a permanent tattoo.
The needle applicator assists in the flow of the gel for a precise application; however, the naturally deep coloring from the gel is what penetrates the layers of the skin to leave behind a stain.
Depending on where and the type of application, jagua gel can also be applied with a brush applicator. There are also methods using a henna cone to apply the gel, as well. However, in order to have a precise application with intricate details, the preferred method is to use the bottle and needle applicator technique.
Jagua gel must be applied onto dry skin for the staining to take effect, and for a clean application. After the design is completed on the skin, the jagua gel will need to remain on the skin, unmoved, for about two hours to ensure it is fully dry and the stain is absorbed.
After the two hours are complete, the excess gel is gently washed away with warm water to reveal a soft stain. The color will develop over the following 48 hours as it oxidizes to become deeper and more visible.
Although it might be tempting to leave it on longer, the overall color and stain will not be made darker or last longer due to any extended time the gel is left on to set.
Jagua Gel Maintenance
Jagua gel can stain clothes, sheets, and other surfaces rather than just the skin. If the jagua gel is applied anywhere outside the chosen design, make sure to wipe it away immediately!
Once the initial application layer is removed after two hours of drying time, the stain will continue to develop over time, so it is best to wrap up the temporary tattoo overnight to protect it (as well as your bedsheets).
After applying jagua gel, it is important to avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, or any chlorinated water as it can fade the coloring more quickly.
To protect the stain as well as your skin, applying a daily SPF is key.
Best Places To Apply Jagua Gel
Jagua gel can be applied almost anywhere on the skin, except sensitive areas around the face.
The places on the body where you will get the most beneficial results from jagua gel are the palms, hands, and feet. The color can absorb and develop best in those areas.
Jagua gel oxidizes to a deep black color, similar to a real tattoo, and will be able to show up on a wide range of skin tones.
How intense the color shows up, as well as how long it lasts, will be dependent on where it is applied and how each person’s skin responds to the gel and develops the stain.
Side Effects Of Jagua Gel
As jagua gel is a naturally derived substance from the jagua fruit, there are no known side effects to using the gel. However, an allergic reaction can be possible, as with any other type of fruit.
Completing a small patch test prior to a full application will determine whether you are susceptible to an allergic reaction from the gel.
It is best to complete the patch test in a small, discreet area before committing to the all-over, intricate designs of the palms, hands, or feet.
Can Jagua Gel Be Removed?
The jagua gel stain will remain on the skin for about two weeks and will begin to fade over time. The temporary stain begins to lighten and fade as the skin naturally starts to exfoliate itself and shed old skin cells.
There is no quick fix to remove the stain completely before it fades away on its own; however, exfoliating the area can help to start lightening the appearance. Using an oil-based cleanser in addition to gentle exfoliation can help to fade the stain more quickly as well.
Is Jagua Gel Similar To Henna?
Yes, there are similarities between jagua gel and henna, but there are also many differences. The biggest similarity between henna and jagua gel is that they are both naturally derived substances, although they originate from two different places.
The other main similarity is that they both are temporary, natural alternatives to more permanent tattoos. They both leave stains on the skin that last for several weeks, and similarly develop their coloring over time.
While they develop the staining effect on the skin over time, the resulting colors from jagua gel and henna majorly differ.
They are both applied in similar fashions without piercing the skin, and the application provides the best pay off when applied to the palms, hands, and feet.
Differences From Henna
One of the biggest differences between jagua gel and henna is where they originate and are sourced from.
While they are both naturally occurring products, jagua gel is derived from the fruit that is native to rainforests and other areas of South America. Henna, on the other hand, is derived from the henna plant that is local to desert climates, as well as areas like India, the Middle East, and Africa.
Both substances leave a stain on the skin; however, there is a difference in their coloring. Jagua gel is a deep black (or blue-black) shade that looks much like a permanent tattoo, while henna is a brown or reddish-brown coloring that is not as dark.
While both substances give the appearance of a temporary tattoo, henna is the more natural color option.
Even though both jagua gel and henna last about the same amount of time, anywhere between 2-3 weeks in most instances, the process differs for drying and staining the skin.
Jagua gel needs about two hours to dry completely and is then rinsed away and left to develop deeper coloring over the next 1-2 days. It will not develop a deeper coloring the longer the initial application sits on the skin.
Henna provides the best results the longer it sits on the skin, and you will see the most optimal results after it has been sitting on the skin for about six or more hours.
Henna is not meant to be rinsed away after the drying process — is best if it is not wet for 24 hours after the application. Keep the henna tattoo wrapped up overnight to protect it, and the coloring will continue to develop overtime.
The henna will dry on the skin and the paste will naturally fall away, but it can also be scraped off gently as well without the use of water.
Unlike jagua gel with its deep coloring, henna will appear with an orange tone at first and then will develop the stain into a darker brown or reddish-brown tone. Henna can also be preserved and maintained with a sugar and lemon mixture that is applied as a paste over the top of the design to seal in the product.
If you want to use the lemon and sugar mixture to apply over the top of the henna markings, just know that it can become sticky and messy — it is best to follow with wrapping up the tattoo to allow the paste to preserve the design.
Application Process For Henna
The application process for henna also does not use any tool to pierce the skin, much like jagua gel. The coloring is applied topically on the skin and left to develop the stain over time. The most common method for applying henna is through a rolled, cone-shaped applicator, or a bottle.
As henna markings are traditionally very detailed and intricate with great cultural significance, oftentimes needles are used to help drape the substance over the skin and achieve the desired design. Depending on some designs, henna can also be applied with a brush applicator.
Side Effects From Henna
As with jagua gel, there are no known side effects of henna applications. However, it is a naturally derived substance, someone could be prone to an allergic reaction.
Similarly to jagua gel, it is best to do a patch test of the henna product before committing to the overall design to ensure you will be free from an allergic reaction.
Differences Between Jagua Gel, Henna, And “Black Henna”
“Black henna” is a dye that can come up when looking into jagua gel and henna, as a way to achieve a henna-like tattoo with the dark black coloring of the jagua gel.
However, “black henna” is different than both henna and jagua gel as it is not a naturally occurring substance and is ultimately toxic for you and your skin.
While jagua gel and henna are derived from fruit and plants respectively, “black henna” is a chemically created substance developed with chemicals such as hair dye, peroxide, and paraphenylenediamine, which can be dangerous and leave lasting damage when applied on the skin.
When applied onto the skin in an attempt to achieve the same temporary tattoos of a jagua gel or henna application, “black henna” can cause permanent damage as it uses chemicals that are not meant to be applied topically onto the skin.
The chemicals used to create the “black henna” can cause scars or burns to occur where the “black henna” is applied, as well as severe allergic reactions.
Oftentimes “black henna” is applied similarly to how normal henna or jagua gel is, or it uses a needle to apply the substance.
While the chemical substance offers the deep black color of a real tattoo (or a temporary one from jagua gel), it is best to avoid using “black henna” as the adverse effects of the chemical substance can be long-lasting and intense.
Overall, jagua gel and henna deliver similar results that last for several weeks and are both sourced from naturally derived ingredients that should not cause any harm to the skin.
Through the precise method of application, they are able to create delicate designs that can adorn the hands, palms, and feet.
If you are looking for a method that looks most similar to a permanent tattoo, jagua gel would be the best option for you as the dark black coloring will stain the skin to give that appearance.
Even though there are offers of “black henna” on the market that claim to provide dark, lasting results, the chemical mixture itself is dangerous and toxic, often leaving permanent injuries behind.
If you are desiring the lasting stain effect of a temporary tattoo, but want a deep black color, jagua gel is going to be the best option for you.
Henna, while still a very popular and traditional option, will leave a more natural-looking stain behind and will require a longer time (at least six hours) to set and develop. Jagua gel is able to set within two hours, and provide markings with a deep black stain within the following day or two.
Both methods use pain-free methods to create the designs without piercing the skin, and deliver results that will last at least two weeks.
Whether you want to follow the traditional designs of henna markings, or want to test out the methods for different styles and designs, both jagua gel and henna are created from naturally derived ingredients and can provide temporary effects for your curated designs!