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  • Writer's pictureRachel Pearsey


So, I’m back in Morocco now, and I’ve been looking back through pictures from my trip to the Gulf. I love finding new designs and styles from different cultures, and I’m always thinking about how I can incorporate them into my art. The henna designs in Oman are different from those in Morocco.

They use dried henna leaves, which are ground into a fine powder and mixed with water and lemon juice to make the henna paste. Sometimes they mix turpentine into it, to make it absorb strong and fast into your skin, producing a darker stain - which is so frustrating for me, because when I paint, I try so hard NOT to get turpentine on my skin! The health hazards are pretty significant so I always use barrier cream when I paint with oils. Needless to say, when I make my own henna, I don’t use turpentine!

They fill a cone of plastic with the henna and draw the design on with the thick paste (like icing a cake). As it’s drying, it stains the design onto your skin, and then you scrape the dried paste off. The stain last for at least 2 weeks.

These were fun new designs to me - the one she used on my hands had lots of circles and it reminds me of the herbal essence logo (a design I really like, by the way).

The henna is bright orange the first day, and then within a few days it becomes a dark brown (compare my hands above). But every person’s skin absorbs it differently. You can see below the difference between my skin type and the skin of my Omani friend’s daughter. Also, the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet absorb it much more darkly than other areas of skin. Scraping the henna off only when it’s completely dry also makes the stain darker.

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