Henna Thoughts….

Friday, March 6, 2009 - 2 Responses

History:   I am The Henna Lady in New Jersey and have been “doing the henna” professionally for over 20 years. At my first henna party for a bride. the guests were me and her cat. Times have changed and those of us who do henna then no longer have to give an explanation to every cashier and clerk who sees our painted hands. Now when someone asks about my henna, it’s because they want my business card or to compare patterns.

Personal:   I also am a legal secretary and work at a major law firm in the New York Metro area. I am Muslim and cover my hair at my job. I guess my co-workers and the higher ups see the henna as part and parcel or it may have to do with my preference for very simple patterns. I do, however, often henna my feet, legs and arms since they are always covered up. I also stain my nails with henna. If my hands are “painted”, sometimes I am self-conscious of it if I meet a client who does not know me. But this area is rather culturally diverse and I do not have any body piercings.

E-mail me if you would like to dialogue more. I truly understand that inner artist/culture thing in the workplace. My inner fashionista would like to store the pleated skirts and silk blouses and wear embroidered tobes to work. Now that would be a HR memo in the making.

Halima, The Henna Lady

What Is Henna?

Sunday, January 7, 2007 - One Response

Henna is a flowering plant native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia and northern Australasia. Henna paste is usually applied to the skin using a mylar plastic cone or small metal-tipped jacquard bottle that is usually used for silk painting.  The painted area is wrapped with tissue, thin cotton material, or plastic in order to lock in body heat, creating a more intense colour on the skin. The wrap is worn as long as possible and then removed. The final colour is reddish brown and can last anywhere from one week to four weeks depending on the quality of the paste.

Henna patterns can be simple and intricate, the intricate designs generally applied to brides before wedding ceremonies. However, traditions in many parts of the world vary and in some countries such as Bangladesh, India, and Sudan bridegrooms are to painted as well. In Rajasthan (northwest India), where mehndi is a very ancient folk art, the grooms are given designs which are often as elaborate as those for brides. In Kerala (South India), Henna is known as Mylanchi and is commonly used by the Mappila (Muslim) community during weddings and festivals. In other countries, such as Morocco, it is done for any special occasion. It is done during the 7th month of pregnancy, after having the baby, weddings, engagements, family get-togethers, as well as many other reasons to simply celebrate an event.

Henna has lately become fashionable in the West as well, where they are sometimes called “henna tattoos”.  This term is misleading as tattoos are the permanent surgical insertion of pigments underneath the skin.  Many henna artists do not care for this term and approach this beauty tradition as an art.

Stay Away From Black Henna!

Saturday, January 6, 2007 - Leave a Response

From a May 2006 article contributed to Sista2Sista.com by The Henna Lady

Most women do not realize that henna is actually a process.  Traditionally it is an opportunity to beautify oneself and/or enjoy the company of family and friends at the same time. You can get beautiful dark henna stains if you use fresh henna, heat and essential oils.  Most importantly, henna is not instant process — time must be taken to “do the henna” right. Therefore, many women prefer “black henna” which is quick, but it is simply not henna. In the past, I myself even used “black henna” for this reason. But as I developed as a henna artist, I realized that this synthetic product is not henna, and is not healthy and so I eliminated it from my services. When I did so, I immediately lost 90% of my clientele.  I eventually built my clientele list over the years have enjoyed the blessings of Allah and improved my art and skill using only the richest henna from Yemen, India and Morocco.

Many women who like dark henna stains often use what is referred to as “black henna”. Actually, there is no such thing as black henna. Some products believed to be “black henna” are very dangerous. Most people use synthetic a black hair dye powder that is mixed with water that contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD) to make what is called “black henna” or “katm”.  Katm in Arabic means blackhair die and that is what the so called “black henna” is.

So-called “black henna” can cause blistering, open sores, scarring, and lifelong health problems. PPD is been considered toxic and a potential carcinogen and products with PPD in them should never be put straight on your skin. Even when dye is applied to hair, the manufacturer advises the customer to wear gloves.

According to The Henna Page, the premiere source of information about henna: “Black Henna” was once a term for indigo, when it was sold as hair dye. In the 1800’s there was no synthetic hair dye. Henna and indigo were used to dye hair and indigo was marketed as “black henna”. If you see a package of “black henna” in a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery it is probably indigo. If you see a package of black hair dye from an American cosmetic company, it has some form of para -phenylenediamine in it. If you are doing henna for yourself, always, always check the manufacturer’s label for its ingredients.

For more information about the dangers of black henna, visit http://www.hennapage.com and click on “Black Henna” to get more information for your self and make your own decision.

A good henna artist does not knowingly use products that can possibly hurt or harm her clientele. Many henna artists even avoid walnut powder which is an excellent ingredient to a henna paste because of concern for clients who may be allergic to nuts.  Most henna artists use tea tree oil, cajeput or other essential oils in their henna.