This month my travels took me back to London, where I had been invited to try out the Pavan Henna Bar in Selfridges on Oxford Street.
Henna as body art is a tradition dating back centuries. People in ancient Egypt and India used it for religious ceremonies, wedding festivals and body adornment. Women who had just given birth would have their hands decorated with henna to indicate that they were too busy bonding with baby to bother with housework. Their hands had more important work to do.
These days, henna tattoos are popular for festivals and parties, or just for fun. It’s also a good halfway house if you are thinking of getting a tattoo and wondering how it will look. Or indeed if you just want a fantastic adventure on your hands – check me out with my Alice in Wonderland hands.
This bar is part of the worldwide Pavan Henna brand founded by Pavan Dhanjal. There’s a London sister branch in Harvey Nichols, and other branches span New York, Milan, Paris and Dubai.
Founder Pavan is a Guinness World Record holder as the World’s Fastest Henna Artist. She has collaborated with everyone from Rudimental to Ellie Goulding, Perrie Edwards and Alesha Dixon, and created bespoke designs for the runway shows of Antonio Berardi and Mannish Aurora.
Artist at work
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I presented my hands to the Pavan Henna Bar in Selfridges. The bar has a book of previous designs to give you ideas, but I decided to sit back and let the artist go for it. Henna artist Mairi did a fantastic job and I really love the beautiful flower design she came up with.
The whole experience was incredibly relaxing, even amidst the bright lights and bustle of Selfridges. The design took about half an hour per hand, so this was an hour in total.
How it works is that the henna is applied, then left to dry for about an hour or so. Once it starts to flake off, the colour underneath develops.
The colour darkens over the next 24 hours, so if you are having a design applied for a special occasion such as a wedding or a festival, it’s best to get it done a day in advance. This is how my design looked after 24 hours, when the henna had developed.
I chose black henna, but the bar also offers traditional brown henna and less-traditional white, glitter and multicoloured unicorn henna.
The design lasts for seven to ten days. I’m about 10 days in now, and still have a ghost of the flowers on my hand. I’m really going to miss them when they’re gone. I’ve had so many compliments from strangers. Although weirdly, people who know me have said nothing at all, like they just assumed I got my hands tattooed and didn’t mention it. I’m almost tempted to do that, I miss my flowers already.
How to find the Pavan Henna Bar
The Pavan Henna Bar is on the ground floor beauty hall of Selfridges in Oxford Street. Ask at the information desk if you’re having trouble finding it; they’re very helpful. Henna art starts at £24 and is available for as small or large an area as you want. Find out more and book online here.
*Service provided free of charge for the purposes of review