Henna art: alternative to the needle

By on October 31, 2002

Not sure if you want to live with a tattoo for the rest of your life and really do not want to go through the painful process? A henna tattoo can be an alternative.
Esthetique, which is located five minutes from Quinnipiac on 2285 Whitney Ave., began doing high quality henna tattoos this year. Esthetique is one of the few places in Hamden that offers henna tattoos made by professional artists.
Susan White, who has her Bachelor’s Degree in studio arts, is certified to give henna tattoos. The prices of the tattoos area $25 and up, and tattoos are either black or red in 100 percent natural, non-toxic dye.
The black tattoos only take one hour to dry, while the red ones dry in six hours.
White can paint a simple design onto a person’s body in a half hour, while a more intricate design could take up to several hours.
The tattoos last for one to two weeks unless done on the hands or feet, because that part of the body has thicker skin and the dye lasts longer.
Since no needles are involved in the process of getting a henna tattoo, the skin is not broken. Instead, a paste is used which conditions the skin while being applied.
Towards the end of the experience, the skin is further cooled by a lemon sugar solution.
Henna color actually comes from the henna plant. The leaves from the henna plant are dried, crushed into a powder and then made into a paste that can be applied to the skin.
Henna is a Persian name used in multiple languages, which means “small flowering shrub.”
It was originally found in Australia, Asia and along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, but can now also be found in subtropical regions of the United States.
In addition to tattoos, henna is also used as a natural product to color and condition hair. Some people also use henna as an ancient style of painting used as a healing art.
The earliest use of henna in the form of a skin dye is found in ancient Egypt. Early Egyptians would dye their fingernails a reddish hue with henna. Not doing so was considered ill mannered.
Henna can also be seen being painted on a princess’ hands and feet by women in the cave paintings in India.
Many believe that the substance referred to as camphire in the Bible is henna, because it was a popular cosmetic of the Hebrews.
The prophet Mohammed used henna to dye his beard, a fashion adopted from the caliphs.
Throughout various cultures, the primary use of henna is to dye the brides’ feet and hands for a wedding ceremony.
This process marks the bride with a red stain that represents the menstrual cycle and the sexual initiation into womanhood through marriage.
Henna is also considered an art of individuality and self-expression. It gives people the opportunity to try innumerable amount of designs until they find the one suitable for them.
Today, henna is mostly used at Weddings and special occations.
Henna tatoos can give you virtually anything you want, whether it be intricate or simple, large or small.


About Amanda Barrett - Staff Writer