The Merge Between Fashion and Culture: Henna Tattoos

While some may not be interested in getting a permanent tattoo, there is another option other than the Disney princess temporary tattoos from the drugstore.

Henna is one of the more popular fashion statements that has traveled overseas. Henna itself is a flowering plant that can be ground into a paste and put on skin to leave a “tattoo”, but the appropriate term to use is "mehndi."

Henna has been used since the Bronze Age (characterized as a time between the Stone age and the Iron age), and although it is hard to track the exact place of origination, there is some historical evidence of it starting in ancient India.

Henna tattoos started as a way for women to adorn themselves for celebrations like weddings and victories in war, which has now translated to the US’s version of celebrating birthdays, school dances and such. 
Unlike a permanent tattoo that lasts forever under the skin, henna is only a temporary stain placed on top of the skin. Depending on the quality of the henna applied, it can last from a week to a month or more.  People often get them done at fairs, birthday parties or amusement parks. The quality as well as the size, placement and intricacy of the henna all determine how much it will cost. Generally they start at around $15, and go up from there. Lucky for all of us, there are at home kits available to make it and apply it ourselves.

A little known fact in the US, henna can also be used to dye hair. From deep brown to auburn light and even deep black, using henna to dye hair has been more popular than people think. My hair is dark black, so attempting to dye it with henna would probably be a waist of time, but anyone with blonde hair should give it a try.

I always wonder, when people from other countries first saw henna on someone, did they think it was a part of their skin? Or did they automatically know it was just decoration? No matter what they thought, I am ecstatic that the trend has come to the US. Henna is one of my favorite things. I cannot wait to one day (hopefully) travel to India and get some traditional henna tattoos!