“Seaside is where it’s all happening,” said Sandy Palmer, artist in chief and proprietor of Five Star Henna, from her new location in Seaside. Palmer, a northern Californian, was a window painter who fell hard for henna after watching a YouTube video. During a vacation to Seaside eight years ago, she determined to move here and open a henna studio.
“We do temporary tattoos, airbrush, stencil; we’ll feather and wrap your hair,” Palmer said. “We do face-painting for little kids, and we’re looking to hire a piercer.”
Sarah, her daughter, also works in the shop and helped design the cool décor. Five Star Henna is an enchanting place to hang out; while you’re waiting your turn under the magical henna tent, check out the cool merch — groovy incense, 3D tapestry, and energy clearing sage sticks.
Henna, for those not in the know, is a natural, organic dye made from the powdered leaves of a tropical shrub. For hundreds of years it’s been used for body decoration; Cleopatra wore it. Eastern Indians elevated henna painting to a venerated art form; henna is incorporated into their lavish wedding festivals as well as religious ceremonies.
The plant the dye is derived from grows naturally in Africa, northern Australia, and southern Asia. Palmer gets her henna directly from a lady in India. Once henna is applied, results, which fade gradually, can last up to four weeks. While young females on vacation make up the lion’s share of Palmer’s business, she also gets people who are considering a tattoo who want to test drive a henna version first for placement.
Palmer says it’s not unusual for a group to come in, say a beach volleyball team, all wanting the same design. Call it a tribal thing. That’s where the party atmosphere kicks in.
“It can get really busy in here on a weekend afternoon,” Palmer said. “This is a fun place to be.”
Patrons select a design from a wide array of suggestions provided by Palmer. I showed her a picture on my phone and she duplicated it. The price of henna application depends on the intricacy and detail of the design. Palmer commented on how there are myriad recreational opportunities in Seaside for those 21 and up. Henna is something everyone can enjoy, age regardless.
For years, I’ve fantasized about getting a tattoo, but so far haven’t been brave — or committed — enough. I asked Palmer draw the classic reiki symbol, cho ku rey, on the back of my hand. It’s lasted two weeks so far. I couldn’t be happier. I’m definitely going back to do it again.
Five Star Henna is located at 600 Broadway in Seaside, right next to the Broadway Bridge, on the north west corner of the Historic Gilbert District neighborhood.