To Kohl or Not to Kohl

I have always admired the mysterious and beautiful 'kohl' eyes of exotic eastern women. Any efforts I made to replicate such artistry always ended with the mirror reflecting unattractive thick, smeared lines and blobs of black.

I decided if I did some research, perhaps I would unearth some long forgotten secret on how to apply this traditional eyeliner.

Sadly, I have not found that secret yet but I have found some interesting information on the ingredients and whether or not it really is safe to use.

Significant Lead Levels

As we know, Kohl is an eye cosmetic traditionally worn in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

In a scientific test conducted on 21 specimens from these areas to determine their elemental composition, significant levels of lead were found in 14 of the 21 specimens (a mean of 48.5).

Seven specimens were totally lead-free; ten had lead levels in excess of 84.

Other elements were found, which included aluminum, carbon, iron, titanium, calcium, magnesium, oxygen, silver silicon, sulfur and antimony (only present in one of the specimens).

Six samples had carbon levels in excess of 60.

The predominance of lead in the traditional preparations tested is of major concern due to the documented adverse effects in humans and the increased susceptibility of children to lead intoxication.

So how do the western-made kohl eyeliners compare?

For comparison, five western-made eyeliner pencils were analysed and iron was revealed as a common ingredient (mean 46) but lead or carbon were not detected.

Just remember, there are a lot more than five western-made eyeliners out there so if you are concerned about the lead content then make sure you read the label or ask the sales person!

There is a potential health risk of using traditional kohl that contains lead.

Read the label or ask! If they don’t know, find someone who does.


Hmmm, don’t know if I need to find that secret anymore …

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