The Secret’s in the Brush—Japanese Eyeliner as Art

The Secret's in the Brush

We invited henna artist Minal Khatri to our studio to talk eyeliner, and we all came away a little bit smarter (and a lot more fabulous).

Henna - Minal

Minal is a master of mehndi, or henna, the ancient Indian herbal art form of skin adornment. Over 100k Instagram followers get some serious inspo from Minal’s mind-blowingly detailed designs, and she travels around the world to work her henna and bridal makeup magic.

As an artist, Minal was eager to explore what she could do with the precision Japanese brush tip and rich, glossy black pigment in our Liquid Eyeliner EX.

“This eyeliner is really good!” she said, laughing. “It’s so precise! I can get really intricate.”

Amanne Eye ArtFirst, Minal traced a perfect cat eye on Amanne, DHC’s communications manager. After stepping back to admire her work, Minal decided to step out of her comfort zone and expand the look—creating a detailed, henna-inspired design, adding curlicues and geometric lines all around Amanne’s eye area. The Japanese brush made it all possible.

Japanese Brush ArtThe art of Japanese brush painting, or sumi-e, goes back thousands of years. Originally, Japanese artisans used soot-based ink, and crafted brushes out of horse or sheep hair and bamboo; each brush could produce delicate, fine lines or bold, thick swipes of pigment depending on the pressure used by the artist.

Our sharp-tipped Japanese brush was made to be used the same way as the calligraphy tools that inspired it. It’s constructed from fine synthetic filaments, ensuring precise application while staying hygienic and keeping its shape.

The eyeliner itself is a long-lasting, water-resistant formulation perfect for a wide range of looks, from a demure, slender line along the lashes to a bold and theatrical accent.

Minal has a lot of experience creating a dramatic look with eyeliner. Until now, she’d worked with pen-tipped liners, so our Japanese brush was a new experience. She loved the glossy universal black shade, and she especially loved how dense the line was. “You don’t need to layer it,” she added.

“I wanted to test how steady I could get” with this in-studio demo, she said. “When I do a winged eyeliner for a bride, that is exactly what I want. We all want that perfect wing.”

Artist spotlight: Minal Khatri


Minal Khatri got her start as a henna artist at age 10. Taught by her mother in her home country of Fiji, Minal did her first professional henna job when she was just 14 and went on to study at the AK Academy founded by Ash Kumar, one of the world’s top henna artists. After earning her certification from the academy, she decided to go solo in 2010, and she’s been in high demand ever since.

To see one of Minal’s temporary henna tattoo designs is to be blown away by the level of detail and balance. She formulates her own natural henna paste, and applies it inch by inch to the hands, arms and feet of lucky brides (and their friends). The henna goes on black when it’s wet, and it dries to an earthy red shade that lasts for about two weeks before gently fading away.

Many brides ask Minal to write the groom’s name in hidden text, keeping with tradition. Want a peacock-feather pattern? Mangoes and paisleys? Tiny, pearl-like dots, vines and flowers in an ancient Indian design? A San Francisco skyline? No problem.

Folks who know mehndi can spot a Minal design, she said. “I’m known for a contemporary look, and for leaving a lot of spacing so that it’s not very dense. When you leave negative spaces, it actually puts the focus on the different elements that you do want to highlight.”

Now that mehndi has gone mainstream, Minal is busier than ever. Celebs like Kate Middleton, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez and Madonna are fans of the temporary henna tattoo, while Rihanna loved the look so much that she made her henna hand design permanent in 2013. Artists, instead of competing with each other, now share inspiration on social media.

“Everybody is so excited about mehndi,” she says. “Instagram took it to a different level.”

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