Eid-ul-Fitr seems incomplete without henna. But for those who don't like mehndi, this is a troublesome time.
You could have allergies or might have work that makes it difficult to have the mehndi stains, like an actor. Or you could simply not like it. I know many who hate the smell of henna.
For me its allergies. A drop of henna on my hand and my skin will look like Red Skull. Coming from a very enthusiastic family, not being able to participate in 'fun' festivities is more difficult than you'd think. And no, its not just because I'm the Grinch in the family... I mean, it's that... but other stuff too... Sorry mom.
A friend told me about white henna and I was fascinated. I looked it up and I found it really unique and attractive. The place that did the white mehndi was called Sara's Henna, and it just so happened that Sara Vazir, head of Sara's Henna was in town. Fate? Coincidence? Call it whatever, but I needed to know more.
You can easily go to Sara's place to get your mehndi done but we decided to meet at a restaurant at Sindhi Muslim. Sara came with all her tools for the art and got straight to fillng her empty mehndi cones with the henna. While she prepped her cone, we got talking.
"I've lived in Hong Kong all my life and had a henna business there. Two years ago I got married and moved to Dubai and expanded my business there. Over a year ago I came to Karachi."
Sara's business has been around since 2007 and is very popular in Hong Kong, to the point that she gets to travel around the world for all sorts of work like destination weddings and shoots. "I was even on Ted Talks. It was the first time they spoke on henna there and it was really fun for me!" she revealed.
However, it was Sara's white henna that gained her most traction. She created a formula that can be applied onto the back of the hand in mehndi art style, and does not have the staining factor and is almost hypo-allergic.
Said Sara, as she started applying the henna to my hand, "In Hong Kong, I have a lot of Western clients. And I used to get a lot of Western brides who loved henna art but they didn't like the stain or couldn't afford to have their hands to be stained that long. I started out by using body paint on them but it led me to create my white henna."
Sara definitely knows what she's doing, she was applying the henna effortlessly while talking to me. I was the one who was nervous, thinking 'Is she even paying attention?'
I was also nervous about the white henna being too white for me, because the first few lines just seemed like white streaks that stood out against my skin tone. What if I look pale in comparision? What if it looks gross? What it I don't like the design? What if she's judging me? You'd think I'm joking about that last one but oh you're wrong.
Sara was a personality I'm glad I met, as she kept telling me about her work, the fun experiences she's had and how she herself wants to push boundaries.
"I do a lot of work with cancer and alopecia patients. Women who've lost their hair. I make henna crowns for them," explained Sara, while being done halfway with my hand. I was surprised she wasn't bragging about that, nor about how quickly she was done with half my hand.
In Hong Kong, Sara was popular, but it was a white henna job for Huda Beauty that really got her on the map. "When I moved to Dubai two years ago, I did it for blogger Huda of Huda Beauty. She raved about it on social media and of course, since she has a huge following, that ended up getting my white henna viral. I got over 25,000 followers in less than two hours., that too while I was I applying it!"
The white henna that Sara makes has no dangerous chemicals, is FDA approved. It's made using medical grade adhesives and body paints, and of course much more. It can last from 1-3 days, depending on your skin type and what you'll do while it's on. Sara warns about other places offering white henna, as many places make cheap versions with toxic ingredients.
Sara also joined hands with Hong Kong production company Anoosh to make flash tattoos. These are gold temporary tattoos about which Sara said, "They're my henna design but in tattoo form. So its great for a quick fix, lasts long and looks really nice!" I had a feeling that these flash tattoos would go great with my highlighter so I got two packs from her.
I was checking out the tattoos only to realize that Sara was just sitting there smiling at me. She was done! And the white henna had also dried up. The formula for white henna dries up almost immediately and I understood why Sara had to fill the cones on the spot. Sara makes a fresh batch of henna on order and carries it in a bottle to prevent the formula from hardening.
Sara said, with white henna the designs are rather minimalistic but even this was a lot of decoration for me and frankly, I think is enough. I don't like the over burdened henna designs anyway. The white henna looks amazing against our skin tone, popping out and making a statement. All my previous doubts of it not looking good disappeared. Except the one of her judging me. That will always remain.
Sara charges Rs.2000 for both hands. The ingredients are rather high end products, with her henna being FDA approved. Even so, it may seem steep but it's worth a try.
I am not a huge fan of henna in general but I'm glad there are options for those of us who can't wear henna and are in situations where there's no way out. This Eid, I'm glad I'll be able to rock this beautiful look and maybe at my friend's wedding I'll get my flash tattoo game on!