Hey yo! You have no idea how excited I was when I found out about this wonderful alternative to henna! This is Jagua gel, it's comes from the fruit Jagua that's originated from South America. The fruit was used by the indigenous tribes. They also used the gel similar to henna, by means of aesthetic decorations and also to dye cloth.
I found this link here that talks about the fruit and where it comes from. What I find the most interesting is how the fruit oxides and turns blue-black, which was what made the gel so appealing since that makes it very similar to the shade of tattoos.
My friend and I was introduced to Jagua gel by our mututal friend, who was showing us around Geylang Serai Bazaar. Initially I thought it was black henna and got a little concerned since they are really dangerous. Leaning that this is an entirely different material/ingredient was really cool.
I decided to go for a minimal looking floral illustration as I was in the mood for it. The design cost $15, which I think is reasonable. The look turned out really great, and it's kinda weird how it's so similar to henna. I mean, I don't expect it to be super different, but I thought there'll be some difference somehow, maybe in texture for example. Jagua gel doesn't have a strong scent though surprisingly. If anything, its scent is rather pleasant, though I don't really know how to describe it other than it is nice smelling lols. The staining process is pretty much the same as henna too, you're supposed to let it dry completely, which takes about 1 - 2 hours, 3 hours for good measure. The artist also advised us to put translucent powder and leave it overnight for longest lasting result. Then gently scrub it off during your shower or something. I only left it on for 2 hours bcos I wanted to shower after the hot day.
I was warned that when I removed the gel the stain will be really light, and it will darken over time. The initial stain looked like a very grey green colour, which is also very nice. I saw the full effect the next day when I woke up, I was so happy with the way it looked! Funny thing is, sometimes it looked kinda like a tattoo, but sometimes it looked like I used permanent marker and drew on myselfXD Either way I find this experience really enjoyable and worth every bit.
I heard that somewhere in Bugis sells the gel, so when I have time I'll definitely go check it out, so i can get a few cones and play around with it!