Travel Tuesday: Henna

If anyone follows Twitter Tuesday’s popular hashtag is #traveltuesday.  I decided to incorporate this into my posting schedule and dedicate Tuesday’s to all about Morocco day.  I’m going to start the ball rolling today with a post about henna.  From my first visit having henna done was something that I began to associate with Morocco.  Usually visits coincided with a celebration (the normal reason for having henna done) but even if there was no celebration I always had it done before coming back to the States.  It’s really very relaxing and I’m stuck waiting for it to dry sitting down – no getting up or wiggling fingers.  (Like a mini vacation for me!)

So here I am with my hands done.  This was for my husband and my wedding party in Morocco.  This time there was a lot more henna in a very intricate design.  Different designs have different meanings and different regions have different designs.  There are also three colors of henna, a black version, a dark brown version and a red version.  I’ve been told there is an additive of some sort mixed into henna sometimes to make the color last longer.  Word to my light skinned friends who might have this done in Morocco- make sure there’s no additive.  It really penetrates into light skin and can take much much longer to wear off. 

Here you can see on my right hand some henna that I had done on my first visit to Morocco.  (ps that’s the husband next to me ;)).  Not a great pic but it’s all I’ve got!  This was done by a local woman in djem al fna for about $10 USD (in 2004).  





Did I mention it’s usually both hands and feet that are decorated.  This time it was for my engagement party.  A very nice floral and leaves pattern.  This up close photo makes it easier to see.  The paste is green when it goes on and a thick paste.  You have to sit still and let it dry – usually about 2 hours but the longer you can leave it the better.  This night my feet and hands were wrapped and in the morning, the dry part of the paste was scraped off.  The longer you leave the paste on the darker the design will be and the longer it will stay.  


This design was VERY elaborate and took a long time to put on and to try.  But it was beautiful!  As you can see it went all the way up to the middle of my calves!  

If you’re headed to Morocco and want to get henna here are some tips:
  • Locals know best – seriously.  There are women in the community who families hire to do henna for their parties.  That’s who you want to do your henna.  They know what they are doing and are good and fast!  If you’re staying in a riad ask the owners if they can get someone to do the henna for you.  If you’re staying in a hotel ask the concierge.  
  • If you feel like you paid a good price you did.  Just like with any purchase in a bargaining economy, don’t feel cheated if you find out someone had henna done cheaper than you.  If you feel you paid a fair price for the work – you did. 
  • If you don’t have any connections to have henna done, ask at an herbalist in the markets.  Herbalists sell traditional medicine and can help find you someone to do henna for you. 
Have you ever had henna done?  Do you have other tips to share?  I would love to hear about it!!



Comments

  1. @ Morocco mama – You're too kind hbibti! I've also heard that sometimes they put gasoline into the black dye? Or maybe that was bad translation on my part!

  2. Amanda, are you kidding, those are great photos! Masha Allah.
    About black henna: it contains hair dye, so when I got it, it dyed my arm hair black, which stayed long after the henna wore off.

  3. @ Amanda – Thanks for adding those tips!

    @Angharad – thank you! I love having it done and try for a different design everytime – It's interesting because each stylist as her own personal style. I know what you mean about the tan lines – that happened to me when I had it done in the summer. Also the color really seeps into the insides of my palms – someone back in the States thought I really had real tattoos like that!

  4. SO beautiful – I don't think I've ever come across henna as gorgeously intricate as that before! When my friend and I were in Marrakech we also had henna done in Djem al Fna, but ended up paying about £20 for one hand. Still, it's not something you get done every day! We then caught the sun a lot, and my friend Ruthie had pale marks in the shape of the henna design for a while afterwards, as she tanned around it!

    xxx

  5. Amanda in Rabat says:

    I had henna done before I left for my trip to the States too, but it didn't come out so well. For some reason, the woman told us to scrape it off just 15 minutes after it was applied- and even though I knew better I did and when I took a shower later that evening it almost all wore off! Tip #1 – leave it on as long as you can!

    Tip #2 – if you can't find a henna artist by the methods above, you may find women waiting in some of the more touristy areas of different cities who will also do it.

    Tip #3 – negotiate the price before they start the henna.

    Last tip – I've heard the black henna has a dangerous chemical in it, but that it may only affect some women negatively. I stay away from it because I don't want to find out after the fact.

    Your henna is gorgeous! Does your husband like it? I find Moroccan husbands tend to love it or hate it…unfortunately mine hates it, but I'm still getting it done again before I go back the States insha'Allah!

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