A staple for women and men alike, kohl eyeliner powder (also known as kajal or surma) has been around for millennia. It is a thick, dark makeup that creates a precise line around the eyes. It is traditionally applied with a stick-like applicator that is dipped in the powder and then swiped along the upper or lower water line of the eyes with the lips closed. The line can then be widened, narrowed or curled to suit the mood or look. This traditional application has changed little over the centuries and is still practiced by Egyptians, as well as many other cultures.
Historically, kohl was made from a natural mineral called galena or lead sulfide and mixed with various other inorganic and organic ingredients like soot and ground almonds to achieve different hues of gray and black. It was thought that applying the kohl around the eyes would protect them from the harsh desert sun and sand dust by blocking the light. The ancients also believed that the lead in kohl could interact directly with immune cells in the eyes and boost their function and strength.
Although modern kohls are often more safe than their older counterparts, the danger of lead poisoning remains a concern in many cosmetic products today. Lead sulfide is a dangerous chemical that can permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream, where it can cause many adverse health effects including brain damage, eye problems and even death. Thankfully, modern cosmetic manufacturers are beginning to crack down on the use of this toxic element. The beauty industry has come a long way since Eugene Rimmel first developed the modern pencil-shaped kohl in the late 19th century. kohl eyeliner powder