What Is Henna And Where To Get It In Dubai
A guide to all you need to know about the natural, temporary tattoo art of henna, where you can get it in Dubai, and its safety and risks
14 August 2019
Arabic henna designs are a significant part of Emirati culture...
Used in a variety of rituals such as weddings and religious celebrations for thousands of years, Emirati women create gorgeous, intricate, and temporary designs on their hands and body using henna dye.
Henna is encouraged to be worn by brides across the Middle East since 800 CE to bring good fortune and protection against evil to their nuptials. The bride's female relatives host a henna night three days prior to the wedding, with tradition calling for a married elder relative to apply the patterns on the bride's hands, forearms, feet, and ankles.
Even outside of special occasions, many women wear henna designs just for fun. Local schools in Dubai would often have henna-painting sessions for events, and students will show the beautiful temporary tattoos the next day.
If you're keen to adorn your hands with henna art, read on to find out what is Henna, if henna is safe, and where to get Henna in Dubai to get that perfect, stunning design.
What is Henna?
Henna, or hina, is a small, tropical shrub. The henna tree leaves are dried and crushed into a fine powder, which can be used to dye hair or temporarily stain the skin.
What are henna tattoos?
Henna tattoos aren't really "tattoos". Unlike tattoos which lasts a lifetime, henna can only stain the skin for up to a month and will fade over time depending on the quality of the dye, the person's skin type, and how long the henna paste remains on the skin. It's almost impossible to remove the henna stains except through its natural fading process, so if you're planning on getting a henna tattoo it's worth noting that it will remain on you for a while.
The tattoos usually have an elaborate design, often beginning from the hands and going up both arms. Immediately after applying, the dye turns orange and darkens over time into a burnt sienna shade.
The patterns are so intricate that it will have you feeling quite like royalty. During the 12th century, these temporary tattoos rose in popularity among nobility and royals in the Arab world, India, Pakistan, and other parts of the African continent.
Going further back, historical records found that henna was used for cosmetic purposes around 400 CE and was listed as a medicinal herb. Ancient Egyptian royalty including Cleopatra and Nefertiti would often use henna as a hair colourant.
Difference between Mehndi and Arabic henna
Traditional Arabic henna designs typically reveal more skin as they have further space between them and consists of delicate, swirling floral patterns.
Mehndi henna designs contains floral, lace, and paisley effects comprised of larger shapes. The hands and arms are highly decorated, leaving less skin visible.
Temporary henna is picking up in popularity across the globe, with designs featuring their own local cultures such as Japanese writing and Celtic knot work.
Are henna tattoos safe?
Henna is generally safe to wear on the skin and can be worn by anyone. In Dubai, the tattooing paste is readily available in many supermarkets, drug stores, salons, spas, public events such as cultural fairs, and other shops.
True henna comes in a red, orange, or brown colour. You can often find brighter colours such as white, purple, blue, green, or yellow, though the materials used to create the paste is likely to vary from the original.
However, depending on your skin type you may face skin reactions such as:
- Loss of pigmentation
- Red lesions
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Permanent scarring
When you should not get henna
Henna can be dangerous for people with a G6PD deficiency. It's a genetic condition wherein the body has low levels of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase - not having enough of it would negatively affect how red blood cells function. Many people aren't aware of this condition until their skin is exposed to certain triggers such as henna.
The deficiency is most common in males.
Where to get henna in Dubai
Majority of women's salons across Dubai offer henna painting, with prices starting from an average of AED 50 and climbing to thousands of dirhams depending on the details and size of the design.
From heritage designs to luxury, 24-carat gold-infused patterns, we've compiled 5 places to get henna tattoos in Dubai.
1. Heritage for Henna
Location: Old Town Island, Downtown Dubai
You can bet the ancient art of henna has been perfected by skilled experts at Heritage for Henna, with designs and patterns preserved and passed down through generations. The henna paste they use is prepared using special methods and tools.
You can choose one of their intricate designs or request a custom piece. Heritage for Henna also offers an array of classes to train those interested in the art of henna, with all learning sessions held by experienced henna artists.
2. Rachna Salon
Location: Across Dubai
Popular for wedding occasions, Rachna Salon offers traditional and innovative Arabic and Mehndi henna art for brides, guests, and children.
During the winter months, the Mina A'Salam branch opens a henna tent just on the canal level. It's a great place to relax and get your henna tattoo done while watching the dhow boats float by on the waters.
3. Dubai Henna by Sara
Location: Cluster O, Jumeirah Lakes Towers
Sara is the first-ever internationally certified henna artist in the Middle East, so you know your hands are in the hands of experts. She has dedicated her work towards the research of safe and natural henna ingredients, gaining popularity for her body art designs.
Visitors can expect henna designs for any occasions including weddings, festivals, birthdays, or just for the interest of decorating your skin. They also have a training academy where you can learn and become a Dubai Henna Certified Henna Artist.
4. Vandana Henna Art Designs
Location: Al Safa
If you're searching for a henna tattoo that's truly opulent, you can't get any more luxurious than henna with 24-carat gold. Vandana Henna Art Designs specialises in painting with gold that will give a glittering and shimmering touch, sure to make any bride feel like royalty on her special day.
According to Vandana, the henna used is safe, completely nickel-free, and biocompatible.
5. Grand Flora Salon
Location: Umm Suqeim 3
They offer great value for a long-lasting, stylish henna tattoo. Visitors will find that Grand Flora Salon specialises in a gorgeous fusion of modern and contemporary Arabic henna art.