An artist has created beautiful henna crowns for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to empower them during this difficult time.
Leah Reddell, 47, from Denver, Colorado, has created intricately designed henna crowns for clients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatment.
The body artist is hoping to help the women reclaim their bodies by allowing clients to talk about the art on top of their heads rather than face the questions about why they don’t have hair or whether or not they are sick.
She told the Huffington Post UK: “The conversation starts with something the art they’re wearing.
“Having art on your head is immediately empowering.”
Leah first began face and body painting over 14 years ago and eventually, she went on to experiment with henna.
It was around eight years ago that she first produced a striking henna crown for a cancer patient.
She recalled: “I had seen them done by other henna artists and then I had a lady contact me about doing one for her sister.
“I loved the idea of being part of this lady’s healing ritual.
“I realised immediately how important it is to incorporate any patterns or symbols that are meaningful and important to the client.”
Nowadays, Leah splits her time between face and body paint at large events which makes up her business, Face Fiesta, and creating henna art for individual clients.
Following a cancer diagnosis, many of Leah’s clients have lost their hair to chemotherapy treatment, whilst others have genetic hair loss conditions like alopecia.
Leah’s number one priority is the safety of her clients and to ensure this, she uses “100 per cent natural henna paste”.
She elaborated: “Safety is always important, but it is particularly important when working with someone with a compromised immune system.
“I make all of my own henna paste. It is 100 per cent natural, fresh, organic henna powder (the powdered leaves of the henna plant) mixed with black tea, sugar and essential oils.”
She added that when she works with clients who are undergoing chemotherapy, she uses an organic lavender oil which she mixed in with the henna paste, as it is “the most gentle and calming essential oil”.
A spokesperson for The Royal Marsden Hospital based in London informed HuffPost UK that people who are undergoing treatment for cancer should always make sure to discuss the use of complementary or alternative therapies with their clinical team first.
This is something that Leah agrees with. She said: “It is always a good idea to check with your doctor first.
“If anyone is seeking an artist to do a henna crown for them, they need to make sure that the artist makes their own henna paste and can tell them the exact ingredients – this is the only way to ensure it is safe.
“There are many toxic, chemical-based products out there being sold as ‘natural henna’, which is what people should avoid.”
She claims the henna crowns can take up to two hours to make and so far, she says the feedback has been extremely positive and no one has reacted badly to the paste.
“Many of my clients come back to see me multiple times as they’re undergoing chemotherapy,” she explained. “I think henna crowns are a perfect option for someone who simply doesn’t like wearing a wig or a scarf.”
What most of Leah’s clients like the most about henna crowns is that it makes people focus on the art rather than their illness, and is a great conversation starter.
She said: “The henna gives them an element of confidence that is wonderful.
“It really makes me feel like my art takes on this life of its own when a person wears it. It gives them a different and beautiful way of being in the world that isn’t just about being sick.”
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