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Aneesa Karim
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Aneesa Karim

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Creating art.

If it is meaningful, beautiful in ways you cannot explain - it is not simple.


For all the time that has passed it hasn’t become easier.

The madness that it is for the creator, with the constant conflict of wanting to manifest those wild, flirtatious ideas, and being subdued by the demand for what is the norm and expected, is a struggle for balance.


The prospect of being a full time artist is a lifelong dream that came to life.

Accepting how it happened is debatable.

Mehndi was not in the concoction of thoughts that was part of the initial dream, but it was the door that opened up possibilities. 


Limited by a single talent - Creativity is not being allowed to have limits.


The first passion is drawing, and from that, other seeds were sown.


As an artist, the mind is both open and in discord.

Escaping to nature steadies the flow of thoughts.

Photography catalogues fleeting inspirations.

Music assists in amplifying the passion.


Here I am, ready to create.


22 March 2017

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Here, I will be giving you insight into my life as an artist, my projects, inspirations, and perhaps I'll be sharing bits and pieces of my personal life as well, (I haven't decided on the latter yet).

Please bear with me as I'm completely new at this.

Hope you enjoy my posts to come.

Stay tuned.




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March 22, 2017

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  • What is Henna?
  • Scientifically known as Lawsonia Inermis, henna is a small flowering tree, utilised mainly for its dye-producing capacity.

  • Where does it come from?
  • Henna is indigenous to the Middle East, North Africa, Arabia, and South Asia, and is cultivated in these areas. The plant is best suited to arid regions, and produces higher levels of tannins (or tannic acid, a naturally occurring dye molecule). As a result, henna that is grown and cultivated in extremely hot climates is of the highest quality, which in turn increases the staining capacity.

  • How does it stain the skin?
  • Human skin is made up of three layers, the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The epidermis comprises the top layer of skin, and can be subdivided into an additional four to five layers. Henna stains the Stratum Corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis, which consists of approximately 15 to 20 layers of dead skin cells.

    Henna dye molecules are small enough to penetrate the columns of dead skin cell layers in a downward fashion making it easy to draw intricate designs on the skin. The skin cells closest to the henna paste will have the most dye saturation, whereas, the cells furthest away will have the least, and therefore be lighter in colour.

    Unlike tattoos, in which ink is placed into living tissue beneath the Stratum Corneum, the application of henna on the skin is temporary and painless as it only penetrates into dead skin cells.

  • What colour is the henna stain?
  • When designs are drawn onto the skin, the initial stain of natural henna may vary from light orange to burnt orange. Through oxidisation, this initial colour gradually changes and may deepen into a reddish brown, burgundy, or deep brown. Oxidization can be encouraged through heat, but note that the end result varies with time.

    Additionally, depending on the region henna is cultivated and the individual’s body chemistry and temperature, complexion and placement of henna design, the henna will interact differently.
    Henna stains the darkest on the palm of the hands and the soles of the feet, as those are the areas with the most layers of dead skin cells. Where the skin is thinnest, the stains are lighter.

  • Is henna safe?
  • Yes, henna is safe. However, henna can be deadly to persons, more specifically, infants, suffering from G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenise) deficiency. Henna can cause severe anaemia in G6PD deficient infants, by penetrating their thin, fragile skin, and causing oxidative haemolysis of their blood cells.

  • What does your henna paste contain?
  • It contains water, sugar, lavandin and/or cajeput essential oils, and natural Rajasthani henna powder.

  • How long should I keep the henna paste on?
  • Henna should be kept on for a minimum of two hours. Brides are especially advised to leave their henna paste on as long as possible, even overnight. The longer it is kept on, the better the chances of it staining properly. In some instances, a mixture of lemon juice and sugar, or even sugar and water, can be applied to the dry paste on the skin, to prolong the chances of it staying intact on the surface of the skin.

  • How long do henna stains last on the skin?
  • The longevity of henna stains on the body varies depending on where it is applied, and how well the area is cared for. Henna stains can last anywhere between one to three weeks and is freshest the first week after paste application.

  • Is henna religious?
  • Not necessarily, although there is historical evidence to suggest that henna was utilised by various religious groups. Henna is predominantly used in the beauty industry for the purpose of body art, and has no religious meaning. If a person wishes, religious symbols, scripts or associations are replicated on the body using henna.

  • Is henna gender specific?
  • No, anyone can use henna, unless prohibited by religious practices. For example, Muslim men are prohibited from using henna on the skin, as it is regarded as a female practice. However, they are permitted to dye their beards and hair with it, as it is allowed in their teachings.

White Henna

  • What is white henna?
  • “White henna” is actually white body paint, gel or a combination of skin safe adhesive and white pigments such as powder or glitter, drawn in the shape of henna designs.

  • Does white henna stain the skin?
  • No, it only sits on the top layer of the skin.

  • Is white henna safe?
  • It is only safe if the adhesive and pigments being used are medical, cosmetic or body art grade.

  • How long does white henna last?
  • Approximately one-five days, depending on the materials being used and personal aftercare.

Black Henna

  • What is black henna?
  • A number of substances may be classified under the term “black henna”, including indigo, jagua, synthetic black dyes, and most often black hair dyes usually containing the toxic chemical PPD (para-phenylenediamine).

  • What is PPD?
  • Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is an odourless and strong sensitiser, potential carcinogenic, and transdermal toxin, (which means it can penetrate the layers of skin and end up in the blood stream), causing further health risks, and in extreme cases, death.

    PPD is illegal for use on skin in the western countries, although, it is rarely enforced.

  • Is black henna safe?
  • No, black henna is not safe as it can cause a number of health risks that include chemical burns, painful itching, blisters, rashes, open sores, severe dermatitis, scarring, and lifelong allergies.
    Some black henna dyes even contain kerosene, gasoline and benzene, to name a few.

  • How can I tell if it's black henna?
  • If the stain develops in less than 1/2 hour to an hour, chances are, it contains PPD. Also, it is advised that persons interested in having body art done should always ask the artist what their henna contains- if they cannot tell you what’s in there, walk away.


  • What is jagua?
  • Scientifically known as Genipa Americana, and commonly called “Huito”, jagua is a fruit based dye that is capable of producing blue-black stains on the top layer of the skin. It is sometimes referred to as “black henna” because of this blue black stain. Jagua is still quite new to the Western World, and the full extent of its uses is still being explored and discovered.

  • Where does jagua come from?
  • Jagua is found predominantly in the South American, and Caribbean regions, and has been utilised by the Indigenous peoples for the purposes of body ornamentation, fabric dyes and medicine.

  • How is jagua applied?
  • For the purpose of modern day body art or temporary tattooing, the jagua juice that is extracted from unripened fruit is mixed with natural preservatives to keep it fresh, and natural emulsifiers, to give it a gel like consistency, making it easier to draw intricate designs. It is usually placed in a plastic tube or applicator bottle with a small needle or metal tip, helping to control the flow of the gel while it is being applied on the skin.

  • How does jagua stain the skin?
  • Unlike henna, it is quick to stain the skin, although it is not immediately apparent.
    After applying jagua gel to the skin, it should be left approximately two and a half to three hours to dry. When it’s dried, the gel flattens on the surface of the skin and resembles latex in texture.
    The gel can be peeled or washed off; leaving a greyish-yellowish stain that is barely visible at first.
    This light stain eventually oxidises on the skin (similar to the oxidisation process of henna), appearing more and more greyish-blue or blue-black after some time.

  • What colour does jagua stain?
  • Blue-black, or a greyish-blue, depending on the area of the body it is applied.

  • Is it safe?
  • Yes, however, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to jagua, which can result in red bumps, or rashes, and may look similar to black henna. Unlike black henna, an allergic reaction to jagua is treatable, and will not cause lifelong sensitivities, scarring or other long lasting health problems.
    Persons with sensitive skin are advised to do a patch test.

  • How long should I keep the jagua gel on?
  • Approximately two and a half to three hours is sufficient time.

  • How long does the stain last?
  • Depending on the area of its application, it can last anywhere between one to two weeks, fading gradually as your skin exfoliates.