kohl is more than just an eye makeup: it was deeply cultural for the Egyptians. Both men and women adorned their eyes with this dark powder, as they believed it carried important medicinal, religious and perhaps magical properties.
The Egyptians used a variety of ingredients to make their kohl. Their main source was galena which contains lead sulphide. This substance was smelted and ground into a fine dust, which they would apply on the eyelids, upper and lower waterlines, and eyebrows. In order to avoid a toxic reaction with the moisture in the eyes, they mixed it with oils and other emollients. This allowed them to control the consistency and create different looks – from subtle smudged lines to dramatic feline flicks.
Even today, kohl is used in parts of Africa and Asia as a cosmetic for the eyes. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) recommends ithmid kohl for its eye health benefits and it is also a popular ingredient in many Ayurvedic beauty products. Traditionally, desert nomads applied it to protect their eyes from the harsh sun and sand storms, to soothe them, repel bugs and keep them moisturized.
Movie star Theda Bara was one of the earliest sex symbols to use kohl, and she became known for her ‘vampy’ style of makeup that framed her luscious lashes. Rudolph Valentino and the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger both also favoured a classic kohl look for their sultry, seductive images. Modern kohl pencils and kajal formulas offer more versatility than ever. They are easy to work with, whether you want a softer, smudged effect or bold, wafer thin precision. Kohl for eyes