By Claire Harlin
Growing up in India, Carmel Valley resident Shahin Pirani remembers how women would decorate themselves in elaborate henna body art for special events, and how people used nothing but a single thread as a hair removal device.
“I came to the United States and everyone was waxing,” said Pirani, 47. “I was only used to threading but nobody here was doing it. In India it was just a basic need.”
A few years back, Pirani came up with the goal of combining threading and henna body art into one business, and her idea of bringing those customs to the community came to fruition just over a month ago when she opened Raanya Henna & Threading Studio at 1105A Camino Del Mar (corner of 11th Street).
The word “raanya” is Arabic for “queen.” So how exactly does this ancient Eastern hair removal practice work? The practitioner stabilizes one end of a twisted cotton thread in the mouth, rolling it over unwanted hair. Either individual hairs or a whole row of hair, depending one what the threader is aiming for, gets caught in the thread and can then be removed at the follicle by lifting the thread upward.
There are two eyebrow artists at Rannya, one of whom is Pirani’s sister, Gull, who has been practicing threading for more than 15 years.
“This is her passion,” Pirani said. Gull is also traveling to Vancouver, Canada, next month to take a special course in henna under Ash Kumar, one of the world’s leading henna and makeup artists.
Pirani said she specializes in henna for weddings — It is a tradition for brides in India to get elaborate henna designed tattooed on the hands and feet. Women also get henna done for showers and pregnancies, and young girls often do henna on one another. It is completely safe and natural, Pirani said. The body art washes off in about two weeks.
Pirani, a former fashion photographer who still practices as a hobby, has an eye for art — one of the reasons she was compelled to specialize in henna at her salon. She said she also overcame two separate cancer diagnoses — one in 2001 and another in 2009 — making her realize that “life’s too short.”
“The last two years were very difficult and challenging, so I thought this would be a great distraction and good way to meet people and do something I enjoy,” she said.
Not to mention, she wholeheartedly believes that threading is the least painful and most efficient way to shape brows beautifully and precisely.
“People have been wowed by it,” she said. “I’ve been getting a lot of first timers. People are really excited to come in and try it, and once they do it they love it.”
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