Aminata, me and Patricia at the henna stand

“So is this like the Senegalese version of a mani-pedi?” Aminata asked me.

You know, I think she may have been exactly right.

Drawing the design on my heel

Yesterday afternoon we had a girls’ outing to go get our feet hennaed at HLM market. My friend Patricia took us to her favorite henna stand where we flipped through a couple photo albums of designs and each picked out what we wanted.

Rinsing off the excess henna

Traditional Senegalese henna, which you’ll see on women of all ages, is done on both hands and feet. On feet, the design often wraps around the bottom of the foot and up on to toes. For hands, it covers the palms and fingertips.

Amanda and her girls

Patricia had her fingernails and toenails decorated with a tiny flower pattern. Aminata chose a flower for one ankle and a design wrapped around the other ankle. My friend Amanda got a cool design going up her calf from her ankle. Her twin girls got butterflies on their arms. And I got flowers wrapped around my heel.

All of the designs were done free-hand, using dark henna on a fine tip. The intricasies of their designs are really amazing – especially on tiny canvases like fingernails!

Aminata letting her 'pedi' dry

Good to know:

– You bargain for the price, so be sure you do this before they start applying the henna.
– Our designs ranged from about 1,000 cfa ($2.50) to 3,000cfa each ($7.50).
– For two applications + drying time + rinsing took a little over an hour.
– The henna lasts several weeks if you keep it moisturized and don’t scrub too hard with soap.

Amanda's hennaed leg

So… who’s next? 🙂