In the summer of 2010, Canadian photographer Frances Darwin met henna artist Darcy Vasudev, and a WYSKy relationship grew.

The plan Frances had in mind when she first met Darcy was to collaborate by combining their skills to create a new and exciting opportunity for expecting mothers – a “maternity henna photoshoot”. This unique venture would feature a henna design on a pregnant belly and be celebrated with a professional photo. But once Frances and Darcy got talking, the project took an unexpected turn.

At the time, Darcy was designing a “Henna Crown” for a woman who had lost her hair while battling cancer, something Darcy had been doing for quite some time at her studio Henna Lounge in San Francisco.

Frances asked Darcy to reach out to the woman to see if she would be interested in a photoshoot to commemorate the special occasion. She said yes, and the seed for Henna Heals was planted.

Henna Heals uses the ancient, temporary body decoration technique to paint beautiful images and patterns on the bald heads of cancer and alopecia patients.

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Image by Katerina Shaverova – Henna by Tarquin Singh

Although Frances and Darcy only worked together very briefly, Frances credits this relationship as the inspiration for Henna Heals, which has since grown to include a community of over 150 artists worldwide.

“Some people undergoing chemotherapy or living with alopecia wear wigs to cope with their hair loss, but we offer an alternate approach. Particularly for cancer patients, the henna crowns really are a healing experience and offer a sense of empowerment,” Frances explains on the group’s website.

Henna Heals also provides services for special events and does belly painting for expectant moms. Ten percent of proceeds from all of these events help to subsidize the cost of crowns for those who need it most. For more information you can visit their Facebook page or website.

Although the henna designs will likely only last a week or two, and won’t cure cancer or alopecia, the boost of confidence for those participating is everlasting!

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Image © Frances Darwin Photography – Henna by Tarquin Singh

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Image © Frances Darwin Photography – Henna by Tarquin Singh

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Image by Katerina Shaverova – Henna by Tarquin Singh

Lead image © Frances Darwin Photography – Henna by Tarquin Singh