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Maintaining a Standard: The BEST Henna.

Its important to me, and the reputation of Henna Muse, to always have a great, reliable henna that give fantastic color. I’ve been testing the waters on some new suppliers lately. This is a chore that requires some experimentation and research. I don’t just go buy any henna and start flinging at at my clients!  I thought I might share how this works.

The first step is finding new suppliers. This can be surprisingly tricky. Henna comes from places that don’t necessarily have the best political relationship with the US. This can create expensive messes that involve missing packages, confiscations, and other “imperial entanglements.” On top of that, there’s usually at least a cultural barrier to communication if not a language barrier too. There’s really nowhere to go for advice on this topic as other henna artists, who in most cases tend to share what they know quite readily, DO NOT share their favorite exporters. Most artists who import their own henna need to be able to sell it to their customers. If they’ve gone through the risk and effort to find a reliable source with good product, they need to protect that information. I have a different angle on this. I’m just looking for the BEST henna for my clients, AND I happen to be allergic to paying retail. These overseas suppliers tend to have minimum orders of something between enough henna to fill my home to roughly 16 lbs. Even if I find a great supplier with a 16 lb minimum, that’s more henna than Henna Muse can use in a year or two! I probably will have to sell off some of my new-found henna at the end of the day, even though that’s not my original intent.

After finding and emailing about a dozen possible vendors and feeling out which will be reliable, I start pushing on my favorites to send me samples. International vendors MUST be trustworthy. Payments are not sent simply by a check you can stop payment on, or a credit card, where you have the bank’s support. Funds are sent via Western Union or some other cash transfer service. Once sent, the money is GONE. This is the biggest reason the average henna user seeks out an American supplier who takes this part of the risk for them. Often negotiations on those free samples help me suss out which suppliers might be good choices. Below is an email I received from a company that had ALREADY sent me a FREE sample.

Dear Mr. Jen

We are waiting for your valued reply.. we request to pay US$15 only and we will send the parcel for you.. we assure you will be happy to use our 100% pure & natural Henna powder (Rajasthani)…

We are excepting your valuable response soon.

Best Regards

Sunil

So, then! Even if their henna is terrific, I have to wonder whether this company is organized well enough to deliver adequate customer service, or if there are individual employees within the company looking for an opportunity to take advantage of me! I can just imagine Sunil telling me that he never received my funds when really they’re in his own pocket!

With the samples in hand, the next step is fun! I mix up a little bit of each henna, careful to use the same recipe for each. Then I test them out. When mixing up the henna from the exporter above, I found the texture to be just lovely! No chunky bits, and it was very smooth with just a bit of elasticity. BUT, this is the color two full days after removing the paste:

Testing new henna paste

This is most certainly NOT acceptable color! On this part of my arm I would expect to see something the color of a chocolate bar. This is barely caramel.

I wasn’t exactly prepared to trust this exporter anyway, so I can’t say that I’m broken hearted that the color was poor, but I did really like this design and wish it was dark enough to show off a bit.

This first exporter was a bust, but I have 4 more samples sitting on my kitchen counter just waiting for me to test drive! Surely one of them will be a hit. Then I just have to work up the nerver to send a fairly significant amount of money to a stranger halfway around the world! Wish me luck!

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