You’ve got the sari and the gold jewellery, now all you need to complete the look is a henna tattoo. Read on to learn what to expect of this traditional form of temporary tattooing and where to find a henna artist in Singapore’s Little India neighbourhood.
Henna is a natural dye that people have been using for thousands of years to stain their skin and hair. In Indian culture, henna remains a popular beauty tool and is used to draw swirling patterns that last up to three weeks. The most common place to get henna is on the hands and feet and the designs are traditionally of flowers and suns.
Getting a henna tattoo is a must before Indian weddings or Indian holidays like Deepavali, and you’ll find dozens of small beauty salons in Little India offering henna at bargain prices. Most salons have an album with photos of their past work so you can choose a design, or you can just tell the henna artist to draw whatever she feels like (henna is usually drawn by — and drawn on — women).
Henna is applied to the skin as a black paste and you’ll need to stay very still so it doesn’t smudge. After the design is complete, you’ll need to leave it on for at least 30 minutes – the longer you leave the henna on, the darker the henna tattoo will be.
When the henna starts to flake off it’s a sign that it’s dry and you can wash it off. Expect your skin to initially be stained a reddish brown colour wherever the henna was, and the colour will darken with time. The henna box claims it will last for up to three weeks, but with daily showering and swimming 10 days is more likely.
Look for henna artists in the Little India Arcade building and along Buffalo Road. Expect to pay as little as S$5 for a simple design on one hand or up to S$15 for elaborate designs covering both. If you’re confident in your own artistic skills, you can buy cones of henna paste at shops in Little India for around S$2.
I had my hand henna’ed by Vanessa Beauty Salon & Henna Artwork Creations at 16 Buffalo Road. I paid S$5 for the design shown in the photo above and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.
By Tanya Procyshyn.
Last updated on 1st February, 2017.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.