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Eye liner on Barbra Streisand shows the general effect
A Varanasi food seller with his granddaughter wearing kohl

Kohl is an ancient eye cosmetic, traditionally made by grinding stibnite (Sb2S3). It is widely used in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia as eye liner,[1] to contour and/or darken the eyelids, and as mascara for the eyelashes. It is worn mostly by women, but also by some men and children.

Kohl is very ancient, and is seen in depictions of high status women and godesses in Ancient Egypt. It has also been used in India as a cosmetic for a long time.

The content of kohl and the recipes to prepare it vary greatly. In North Africa and Middle East, homemade kohl is often made by grinding galena (lead sulfide). In the west, soot or organic charcoal may be used instead of lead. Plant oils and the soot from various nuts, seeds, and gum resins are often added to the carbon powder.[2] Unfortunately, the non-lead products do not give such a good result as the older, traditional varieties. Handmade, lead-based kohl continues to be popular.

References[change | change source]

  1. Eyeliner video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L644Lt2_xmQ
  2. Hardy A; Walton R. & Vaishnav R. 2004. Composition of eye cosmetics (kohls) used in Cairo. Int J Environ Health Res. 14(1):83–91.