What is Kohl? Ancient Beauty Revealed!

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One of the most dramatic make-up looks besides your beloved shade of red lipstick, is the Smokey eye. It is a favorite standard for celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian.

So if you want to perfect this catwalk staple, then you’ll need to use a long-wearing kohl eyeliner to do the job.

But what is kohl, exactly? Where did it come from, and how do you use it? Read on to find out more about this ubiquitous ancient beauty tool.


What is Kohl?

Like its cousin mascara, kohl is a substance that has been used to beautify eyes for centuries. It was first used during the Ancient Egyptian Protodynastic Dynasty as a sign of status.

Think of Queen Cleopatra and you get the idea.

During this era, though, the kohl was made of powdered stibnite, a sulfide of antimonite.  It was mixed with liquids like castor oil or flower waters to make a paste.

Using stibnite kohl was a practice to protect the eyes against sun exposure as well as ailments due to dirt and infection, even though stibnite itself is poisonous.

This practice traveled to the Berbers, Muslims in Africa, and cultures in South Asia.

It was also used as a protection against the unwanted gaze of the “evil eye“.

The kohl found its way to Europe in the 18th Century. Blackened eyelashes and eyebrows were mainly done with soot beforehand.

Kohl was made from various materials as well. Some recipes even included inks, lead, iron oxide, and arsenic. Other toxic agents were also used that led to serious eye infections and injury.

Oh, the things we do for beauty…

The kohl pencil that we know today was a Western invention. It became prominent after the Second World War.

This made the application of the Smokey eye much more easily available because you were now able to carry your beauty tool packaged safely in your purse.

Of course, you can still buy powdered and creamed versions of kohl. These days are known as cake eyeliner . But, most will choose the convenience of a pencil.

Applying cake eyeliner takes a lot more skill. It has the potential to end up all over the place, and needs a separate applicator, which can easily get lost.

Today’s kohl eyeliners come in many colors. They are used to make dramatic eye looks much easier. Let’s take a look at a few that will give your eyes some dramatic flare.

Bring The Drama

1. Lotus Make-up Natural Kajal .

For dramatic raccoon eyes, look no further than Lotus Make-up’s Natural Kajal!

This black kajal is a long-wearing, smudge-proof, waterproof, creamy, highly-pigmented pencil. It will give your eyes a striking and sexy effect that will have heads turning.

Lotus Make-up’s Natural Kajal won’t tug your skin on application. You won’t need to visit the bathroom for frequent touch-ups.

It contains 100% natural ingredients including camphor.  It will help to keep eye moisture to soothe and nourish the eyes. While Almond oil promotes eyelash growth and Anti-aging.

This beauty product is easy to apply and comes in a twist-up retractable container. It’s also paraben and preservative-free. It doesn’t contain animal products and is suitable for contact lens wearers.

2. Lotus Make-Up Ecostay Kajal 


Another kohl product from Lotus Make-up is its Ecostay Kajal

This  will give your eyes a flawless jet black finish that will last for 10 hours and beyond. The good thing about it is it will not give you smudging or accumulating in the corners of your eyes.

It is free of paraffin and preservatives, is suitable for the eye line, and is 100% vegetarian. Its velvety soft texture.  It is infused with jojoba oil and  glides on smoothly. Also, it produces a dramatic color that will have you channel your inner Cleopatra.

3. Dharma Organic Netra’s Baby Kajal 


If you have allergies or very sensitive eyes and are willing to put in the time and effort to apply a cake liner, then why not try Dharma Organic’s Baby Kajal?

This is probably the purest modern kohl you’ll be able to find.

It contains an all-natural blend of organic ingredients such as coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, green camphor, beeswax, and cow ghee.

The inclusion of this animal product means it’s not vegan, but it is cruelty-free and doesn’t contain toxic harmful chemicals. It is also lead, paraben, and sulfate-free.

Use this baby mahal with a flat eyeliner brush for easier application. And if it’s good enough to use on the sensitive skin of babies, then it should also be fine for you.

4. Honeybee Gardens Effortless Eyeliner 

Honeybee Gardens Effortless Eye Liner Pencil in Passion, Rich Pigmentation, Smooth, Long-Wearing, Vegan, Gluten-Free
  • Gentle Application: Enhance and define...
  • Rich Pigmentation: Passion provides...
  • Kind to Skin and Earth: This...
  • Multi-Use Versatility: Equally effective...
  • Sustainable Design: Comes with a...

Want the drama, but don’t want to use black? Well, then Honeybee Gardens Effortless Eyeliner is your answer.

Its range of colors includes Green Envy, Blue Jeans, Smoking Gun (a glittery silver gray), and Passion (a smokey plum).

These eyeliners can be applied smoothly and easily, and they stay put, even on oily skin.

This is because this range of eyeliners has a softer formula than usual.  They are gluten and paraben-free, and 100% vegan and PETA-certified.


So now that you know what kohl is, get creative with your peepers to make them even more attractive.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).