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Henna Options for Small Budgets

Photo by VistaprintI get a call. “Hey! I want to get a henna tattoo. Just something small. A little butterfly on my shoulder.”
“Are you sure that’s all you want? I charge at least $60 for a home appointment.”
“What???” (thud as the caller faints)
Most people don’t want to spend $60 on henna. That’s understandable, especially with the economy the way it is. So, what are some options if you’d like to try henna but don’t have much cash?
Fear not! I have several options, but first, let's talk about how henna artists set their prices...
Festival Pricing vs. Private Appointment Pricing
Henna artists can get away with charging $5 to $25 per design at festivals because of volume – with dozens or even hundreds of customers, small charges add up fast. Think of it as the McDonald’s model.
However, hiring a henna artist to come to your home is like hiring a private chef to fix a gourmet meal. You wouldn’t pay top dollar to have a chef microwave popcorn, and no chef would fix a five-course meal for the price of a Big Mac.
Private henna appointments are very comparable to what you’d pay for an hour of nail services, hair styling or a therapeutic massage – and henna artists make house calls! (Try asking your hair stylist for a house call.) Also, henna artists generally do not do henna 40 hours a week; they're artists doing commissioned work, which factors into the price. An hour of henna gives you something far more elaborate than a quick butterfly on your shoulder. It’s a luxurious experience that takes time, expertise and quality products to do well, and the price reflects that also.
Henna Options for the Budget-conscious
However, if you have BMW tastes on a VW budget, you can still get your henna fix. Here are some options:
  1. Get invited to a party where henna is offered. This is a great way to get free henna but very unpredictable.  :)
  2. Look for henna at a public event, where you should be able to get a sweet little design for $5 to $10 or something a little more elaborate for a few dollars more. And many artists will gladly size up a design – the price is usually based on the design’s complexity rather than finished size. (Check the Calendar for my upcoming public events!)
  3. Go in with your friends for a private appointment. Invite three friends over, crack open a bottle of wine and split the hourly cost four ways. Cheaper than dinner out! And henna makes for the most fabulous girls’ night in.
  4. Barter. We henna artists are just like you, looking for ways to make a dollar stretch in a down economy. How about trading services? An hour of massage, house cleaning, pet sitting ... I'd gladly trade henna for that!
  5. Be a model. Artists often need models to show off their more elaborate and complicated work. In exchange for free or steeply discounted henna, the model agrees to be photographed during and after paste application and then again when the paste achieves its full stain, often with special wardrobe and makeup.
  6. Hit up your sweetheart/mom/sister/friend/grandma for a gift certificate. (Order one from Blue Lotus Mehndi by sending us an e-mail.)
Last option is to do things the old-fashioned way: save. Yeah, we Americans love instant gratification, but putting a little in the piggy bank over time makes the rainy day sweeter when it comes.
And one last word … be wary of anyone offering henna too cheaply, especially for home appointments. You might luck out and get a talented artist with gonzo paste … or you might get someone who has never invested in quality ingredients or serious study and won’t think twice about showing up late (or not at all) and doing crap work because, hey, she’s not getting paid much!
So if you go inexpensive, be smart. Go for value, not just price.

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