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These Inspiring Henna Crowns Are Helping Cancer Patients Feel Beautiful

Henna Heals is on an inspiring mission to alleviate the stigma of hair loss.

Henna Heals is a global community of artists who create “Henna Crowns” for people experiencing hair loss. Whether from cancer or other medical conditions, the crowns serve as a form of empowerment and decoration.

Henna by Abigail Engel on Madison P.
Jessica Daniels Photography / portland-vancouver-senior-portraits.com

Henna by Abigail Engel on Madison P.

What started as a small group of advocates and artists in Toronto, founded by Frances Darwin in 2011, has grown into a worldwide network and resource organization focused on health and safety.

Jessica Daniels Photography / portland-vancouver-senior-portraits.com

While the organization and its artists often work with many other clients, including brides and mothers-to-be, the platform mainly serves to connect those who are experiencing hair loss with reputable artists in their area.

The process of henna application is calming both physically and emotionally for many patients, says Darwin. The paste itself, which is all natural (something that Henna Heals insists upon and teaches all its artists), has a cooling effect on the skin.

And it’s not just the henna and the application process that’s calming and healing for the patients, Darwin told BuzzFeed Life. It’s also the portraits they get taken during and after the henna is applied.

“The only people who get portraits taken are celebrities and models now,” Darwin said. “It’s empowering for someone who’s not used to feeling beautiful to be captured like this. The photo itself is also part of the healing process.”

Henna by Tarquin Singh.
Tarquin Singh / Henna Planet / hennaplanet.ca / Facebook: hennaplanet

Henna by Tarquin Singh.

The henna application often takes place in the client’s home, but some hospitals have allowed artists to create the crowns while the patient is undergoing chemotherapy.

Henna by SARAHENNA on Cynthia Q.
SARAHENNA / sarahenna.com

Henna by SARAHENNA on Cynthia Q.

Joanne Rumstein-Ellis, a henna artist based in Toronto, said one of her first clients told her the henna was also a way of changing how people interacted with her.

Henna by Hennafication on Carolyn L. and Patricia R.
M.Lee Freedman

Henna by Hennafication on Carolyn L. and Patricia R.

“The henna was a bridge for her,” Ellis told BuzzFeed Life.

Henna by Judith Joseph on Jessica L.
Lindsey Furniss Photography / lindseyfurniss.com

Henna by Judith Joseph on Jessica L.

“People didn’t just see her as sick. The [crown] was a conversation starter. It made her feel beautiful and strong because people weren’t just feeling sorry for her. It was really a positive spin on a negative experience.”

Lindsey Furniss Photography / lindseyfurniss.com

To learn more about Henna Heals or to find an artist in your area, visit their website here.

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