I love henna, from the traditional, intricate, Indian patterns to the more modern and dramatic Arabian designs, even the fun, brightly coloured versions which have appeared in the last couple of years.
White henna is apparently the latest thing, and is a star attraction at the Ramadan market in Singapore, so I was very keen to try it out.
But whatever it is, it really isn’t henna, although it is packaged and applied in the same way.
Seriously, it looked and felt like I was being painted with a particularly sticky sort of Tippex, which resolutely refused to dry.
“Come back in 20 minutes and I will put powder on it”, said the lady in charge of the stall where I had this done. But by the time I returned, the design was already the worse for wear. Admittedly, I had been shopping and snacking my way round the market, but even taking care, I found the henna was a nightmare to deal with.
The pattern became blobby and any contact resulted in strings of sticky rubbery material stretching between the design and whatever had touched it. Having what looked like ordinary talc dabbed onto it did somehow ‘set’ what remained, but in retrospect I think it would have been more sensible to sit around the stall for those 20 minutes until the design was ready to be powdered.
As it was, the whole thing looked very messy.
With normal henna, of course, you scrape it off once it is dry and the colour first darkens then fades from your skin over the next 10 days or so. The white henna stays on, but not for very long – 3 to 4 days is supposed to be the limit – although how you keep it intact whilst working, washing and generally getting on with your life, I have no idea.
I found bits peeling away annoyingly before the day was over, and scrubbed the whole thing off before bedtime. It is unlikely I will try this again.