A photographer is using her work to transform the lives of women with cancer and genetic alopecia with the ancient art form of henna. Frances Darwin launched Henna Heals last year to allow women dealing with hair loss to feel feminine and beautiful.
Artists use the bald heads as blank canvases to create one-off intricate designs using a natural plant-based paste.
‘The designs are customised and one-off works of art’ said Ms Darwin, who wants to give these women the confidence and power they may have lost as part of their illness.
Henna has been used since antiquity in countries such as Pakistan, Morocco, Somalia and India for decorative purposes, to bring the wearer luck, joy and enhanced beauty.
Mr Darwin’s project not only aims to de-stigmatise conditional female baldness but actually give it a chic edge.
Known as henna crowns, the designs are not tattoos, involving no needles or pain, and last up to two weeks – offering women who are experiencing hair loss to regain a sense of self that may be lost.
Ms Darwin was inspired to start Henna Heals when she first saw the henna crown’s power to transform. While taking pictures of a breast cancer patient whose head was adorned with a henna crown, the woman told Ms Darwin she had never felt as beautiful, even before she had cancer.
Ms Darwin knew she wanted to continue empowering women to feel beautiful and confident, while at the same time helping to de-stigmatise hair-loss.