Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o recently revealed the fascinating story behind her striking bald henna look that captivated her fans on Instagram. Lupita recounted her encounter with the talented henna artist @hennabysabeen at a wedding in Pakistan, where she was mesmerized by Sabeen’s intricate and beautiful designs. Inspired by Sabeen’s artistry, Lupita made a promise to collaborate with her in the future.
Fast forward to 1.5 years later, Lupita found herself in need of a captivating ensemble for the opening night of her friend Mira Nair’s musical. Despite borrowing a sari and jewelry from the wedding she attended with Sabeen, she felt that something was still missing. Then, in the middle of the night, an idea struck her like lightning—a henna design covering her bald head.
Lupita expressed her excitement in an Instagram post, explaining that she saw this as an opportunity to celebrate culture using her readily available “canvas.” The idea was so thrilling that it kept her awake, unable to return to sleep. Determined to bring her vision to life, Lupita reached out to Sabeen, who had never designed for a head before. Lupita’s only request was a widow’s peak, paying homage to the bindi, borla/maang tikka.
The creative process became “all Sabeen’s innovation.” Sabeen suggested the use of #jagua, a natural dye derived from the jagua fruit of South America, which would create a striking contrast against Lupita’s dark skin.
Both excited and anxious, Lupita couldn’t help but wonder, “What if it went wrong or looked funny?” However, Sabeen’s expertise and dedication put her at ease. Lupita admired Sabeen’s meticulousness and their collaboration was marked by regular pauses for feedback. Sabeen persevered until the design was flawless, and when they finally glimpsed the finished masterpiece, they were both overcome with joy.
“It takes about 24 hours for the dye to fully develop,” Lupita shared. “And when it emerged the next day, the contrast was striking. I was truly moved. The design was beautiful, bold, and elegant—it had a point of view. We had taken a risk, and it had paid off. I had discovered a new form of self-expression without hair!”
In her Instagram post, Lupita encouraged her followers to embrace new avenues of beauty and expressed her gratitude to Sabeen for sharing “the beauty of your hand and history” with her.
Lupita described the henna design on her bald head as “bold and elegant” and emphasized its unique perspective, providing her with a fresh means of self-expression while celebrating cultural heritage in a remarkable way.