The art of beauty! Lupita Nyong’o is using her head as a canvas.
The 40-year-old actress covered her shaved crown with henna to attend the opening of Monsoon Wedding Musical, which follows two Indian families as they come together for a wedding. The Black Panther star took to Instagram on Tuesday, May 16, revealing that she wanted to honor and celebrate South Asian customs.
“The story of my head,” Nyong’o wrote via Instagram alongside a series of photos and videos that showed her with the intricate ink, which was brought to life by tattooist Sabeen. “I met @hennbysabeen last year at a wedding in Pakistan. She did the #hennadesign for the bride and I was ASTOUNDED by the INTRICACY and BEAUTY of her work. There was something unique about the way she expressed herself in henna art. And I promised myself, ‘One day, I will have a reason to work with Sabeen.’”
Nyong’o continued: “1.5 years later, when Ig to the invitation to attend the opening night of my dear friend Mira Nair’s @moonsoonmusical, I was scrambling at the last minute to find something to wear. I borrowed a sari and jewelry from @mishajapanwala, the bride from Pakistan, but the look didn’t feel complete.”
The Little Monsters star recalled when the idea of getting henna came about. “In the middle of the night, an image SHOT into my mind of a henna design covering my bald head!!!” Nyong’o said. “I could do something special and different to celebrate the culture using the canvas readily available to me. I was so excited by the idea that I could not go back to sleep. Misha connected me to Sabeen, and we were ON OUR WAY …”
Though elated, the Mexico City native said that both she and Sabeen were “terrified” as the artist had never “designed for a head before” and Nyong’o worried “what if it went wrong or looked funny.”
Nonetheless, Sabeen worked her magic, using her own “innovation,” panting Nyong’o’s head with “a natural dye from the jag fruit of South America that would be dark enough to give good contrast to my dark skin.”
She continued: “Sabeen BROUGHT IT. We stopped now and again so that I could give her feedback because she was determined to leave me a happy client … When we looked at the finished head … we were both GRINNING!”
After letting the dye sit for about 24 hours, Nyong’o said the design “came in, in full contrast” the next day. “I was simply moved. It was beautiful. It was bold and elegant it had a point of view. We had not played it safe, and it had paid off. I had found a new way to express myself without hair!”
Nyong’o added: “The moral of the story is: DARE YOURSELF TO SEEK OUT BEAUTY IN NEW WAYS.”
The Jungle Book first unveiled her no-hair look on Thursday, May 11, sharing a selfie via Instagram. “Happy without hair,” she captioned the social media post. The major chop came after Nyong’o had initially debuted a buzz cut on April 16.
“I chopped off my sisterlocks! Here’s how I said goodbye,” the 355 actress wrote alongside an Instagram video of her transformation. In the clip, Nyong’o gushed about her strands before the trim, saying, “It’s time to let you go. It’s sad, it’s oh so sad.”
She continued: “You’ve been so good to me! You’ve been so thick … for the first time in my life. I’m going to miss you. Come back again.” The Us star then blew her crown a few kisses before pulling out a pair of scissors as the popular TikTok audio “girl, don’t do it,” played in the background.
“I’m not gonna do it, girl,” Nyong’o mouthed. The recording later transitioned to show her with a fade. “I did it,” she said while poking her head out of a car window.
Her fans and famous friends applauded the switch-up in the comments section. “Beautiful,” Michael B. Jordan wrote as Andra Day commented several heart eye emojis.