Friday, May 26th, 2017

Getting Henna in Little India, Singapore


Everyone was right – Little India WAS worlds away from the rest of Singapore. The city-state’s immaculate streets were suddenly filled with every color of the rainbow.  Swaths of crimson and azure silk hung from fabric shops; gold jewelry glittered from glass-covered cases.

But it was still Singapore – still clean, still orderly, still marvelous!

While exploring the neighborhood, I ducked into the Little India Arcade as a shortcut to the bakery I had noticed earlier.  But upon entering, I found something even better:

HENNA!  By a REAL henna artist!

I’ve had a few henna tattoos in the past (mostly on Venice Beach in Los Angeles), but they’ve mostly been lame.  (Come on, if you were 17 years old, wouldn’t you get “sexy” in Chinese and insist it was just because you liked the way the character looked?)

I told the artist to do whatever she wanted. She began drawing swirls, flowers, and curlicues.  It was as if she read my mind!

Total cost: S$12 ($10 USD) for both hands.

Worth it.

To my surprise, the henna was red underneath the black crusty shell.  And it continued to darken for the next few days.

The lady told me that it would stay for two to three weeks. However, five days later, I had my surfing lesson in Bali and after a few hours of swimming in the ocean, it was nearly gone!  I just scrubbed the rest of it off, rather than deal with the patchiness.


It was great while it lasted, though. Amusingly, everyone in Bali would compliment me on the henna – then wish me a happy honeymoon and ask where my husband was!  (Henna is customary in Indian weddings, though brides usually get it all the way up their arms and legs.)

If you’re spending time in Singapore, it’s well worth popping into Little India to have a look – and get some new body art!


20 Responses to “Getting Henna in Little India, Singapore”
  1. Robyn says:

    I love henna. It’s so disappointing when you get it done in touristy places only to find out hours later once you take the stuff off that it wasn’t real henna. Real henna stains your skin either red/orange and then continues to change to a dark brown. I did the tourist henna in Mexico and ended up with a black anchor on my stomach that looked like it was drawn on with black marker. It made for a really cool looking tan line, but for a few days it was an eyesore.

    • Carissa says:

      If you get a henna tattoo again, make sure that the henna being used is BROWN instead of black. Black henna ink is more likely to cause skin reactions (eww) and it is not natural. From what I remember it also doesn’t as long.

  2. Amanda says:

    Henna is awesome. A friend of mine and I were obsessed with it for a while in college, and we were constantly having Henna parties and drawing designs on each other. We are NOT artists, though, so sometimes it turned out looking pretty lame. Haha.

    This is beautiful, though! Shame it didn’t last very long. 🙁 Maybe something about the salt water broke it down faster than normal?

    It must have been fun watching the artist work, though! It looks so intricate.

  3. Morgan says:

    My friend went to India and brought some henna back with her and after a fuzzy night at an Iowa State University festival I woke up with a squiggly depiction of the ISU campanile coving my entire back and up my neck complete with a boy and girl kissing, moon, and animals 🙂 Yours looks great!

  4. I love henna tattoos. I have never had my hands done though, but would love to. Yours look so beautiful. And surfing lesson, go girl!

  5. That is really, really beautiful. I’ve had the ugly marker-style done in Mexico too, and it doesn’t nearly compare to that. How fun!

  6. Diana says:

    Hey, you didn’t mention the SMELL! (Ugh.) When my friend got married, her entire bridal party got henna’d …between that and the saris we got to wear, she had the most beautiful & colorful set of wedding photos I’ve ever seen. Did your artist suggest putting a bag over your hand and covering it in a lemon-sugar mixture to prolong the dye? I’m not sure it would have mattered with all the water time you got though. Still, she did a great job….you could be a henna hand model if this travel writing thing doesn’t work out! 🙂

  7. Those really looked great! To bad they didn’t last longer and very cheap for some nice pieces.

  8. Nicole says:

    I love henna! i got some done once in Marrakech and although we got ripped off it was well worth it!

  9. Getting henna in India was one of the highlights for me! Yours was beautiful!!!

  10. I got a henna tattoo in Morocco, and although I thought it was beautiful everyone at home thought I had just drawn on my hands… 🙁

  11. Jeremy B says:

    Those henna tattoos will go great with your hippie pants! 🙂

  12. wyning says:

    i can’t believe u did both hands full of henna for SGD$12!?! I went to litttle india and did one hand for SGD$0.50 only. i think the woman conned u out as she saw u were tourist. while i’m local?
    & my pattern was wonderful like yours!! or maybe u went to the wrong shop. :/

  13. AutumnQ says:

    They look sooooo beautiful!!!! Also wan one!!!!!

  14. Sharlene says:

    I actually had a henna tattoo done on my hand in school for free! I was so obsessed with it but after a few weeks it was gone and I was so sad but it was beautiful though

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