Paint the Body Beautiful

Thousands of Years of Henna

Pregnant Beyoncé with henna belly tattoo

Beyoncé with Pregnant Belly Henna Tattoo at her Baby Shower
(photo courtesy of

Every once in a while I get reminded that henna body painting is thousands of years old. Back when we first got involved in the world of henna tattoos, in media interviews I would be asked whether I thought the henna craze would last. I always said yes, even though I had no idea what I was talking about and nothing upon which to base my opinion, except for a gut feeling.

That was in 1997, when we opened Lakaye Studio, which turned out to be the first henna studio in the United States. At the time, two things seemed certain:

  1. the love of temporary tattoos was based upon the popularity of permanent tattoos; and
  2. human beings love body adornment.

Neither of these phenomena would be going away anytime soon!

Whether the henna temporary tattoo trend would last was another story. Because another factor driving the desire for henna tattoos was the way celebrities like Madonna, Prince, Sting, Gwen Stefani, and others took to running around flashing their henna tattoos in the media. But henna body art (or mehndi, as it is known in India) has been around for a long time—and a lot longer than we in the West knew about; and I instinctively felt that it would outlast celebrity interest. Why? Because it’s beautiful! I knew that it would get added to the constantly growing roster of ways in which we can decorate our bodies.

So what do you know? Here we are in 2017, 20 years later, and here’s Beyoncé at her baby shower with a huge, gorgeous henna tattoo on her very pregnant-with-twins belly. (Alanis Morissette and others love the look too!) Madonna back then; Beyoncé now. Regardless of beloved modern-day icons like these two powerful and dynamic stars, henna’s gonna live forever!