What Is Kohl Eyeliner

woman with black eyeliner and multicolored bright hair clips

When you hear Kohl eyeliner, you probably think of dark, intensely bold eyeliner that can seamlessly elevate a makeup look. But you may not know that there is no such thing as real Kohl eyeliner on the shelves of makeup stores today. So, what is kohl eyeliner? In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Kohl eyeliner.

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The History and Culture of Kohl Eyeliner

Kohl liner stems back to ancient Egypt, where Egyptians would use it regularly to give them a beautifully dark-pigmented, smokey eye that you often see in movies and depictions of ancient Egypt. They would also use it to protect their eyes from the sun and from disease.

Today, traditional Kohl is called “Surma” by Muslims, who use it for religious purposes. Kohl is often worn as eyeliner during Ramadan. Kohl is a cultural and cosmetic staple used throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. In traditional Muslim households, newborns’ eyes are dabbed with Kohl to repel the evil eye, and the glare of the sun and protect the newborns against diseases.

Many believe that Kohl has healing properties to help rejuvenate and cleanse the eyes. Practitioners use Kohl to make preventative treatments for eye infections. In South Asia, traditional Kohl protects against the evil eye– a jealous gaze that many believe can cause harm and injury.

The Controversy With Kohl Liner

a woman in a black half niqab
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Kohl eyeliner is one of the oldest forms of makeup and is most commonly made from galena or antimony. Both of these are natural ingredients that were used in ancient times. Still, they are also heavy metals that typically contain high concentrations of black iron oxide and pigments that contain lead sulfide– which can be toxic and should be avoided in cosmetics. When used, there are several potential health risks. 

The prolonged application of lead can cause excessive lead storage in the body, negatively impacting the brain and leading to neurological disorders. Because of this, lead-hazardous eye makeup is not sold in the United States. Today, Kohl is a mineral that is not FDA-approved for cosmetics in the United States. So, what does it mean for the Kohl eyeliners on store shelves if it’s not FDA-approved to be in cosmetics?

Kohl Eyeliner Sold Is Safe

Since Kohl is not FDA-approved for cosmetics – when you see the word Kohl on a makeup product, that typically refers to the dark black color of the cosmetic, according to this article. Kohl is a marketing term used to describe eyeliner that has the creamy texture of kohl. These formulas offer a silky application and are available in intense black pigments. Kohl eyeliner’s new advanced formula makes it an easy-to-smudge eyeliner that will elevate your makeup look and give you that dramatic eyeliner.

Kohl eyeliner may look like a bold, dark black color, but it’s a grayish black. When it’s being made, Kohl eyeliner is mixed with black, yellow, gray, and red pigments to match it. Then, wax is added to make the liner solid, like all other eyeliner pencils. Kohl eyeliner is easily blendable and can come in many forms, including a creamy stick, pencil, or squeezable tube.

You can also find kohl liners in various formulas, from waterproof formulas to gel and pencil liners. Kohl powder remains a popular product, and you can apply kohl powder just as you would any other powder-style eyeliner. Liquid liner offers the same soft texture that kohl powder is known for but has the convenience of a liquid liner.

However, keep in mind that because it is not a true kohl liner, it doesn’t offer the same medicinal properties as liners sold in other countries, such as South Asia. 

How Can You Wear Kohl Eyeliner?

Regardless of the form it comes in, Kohl is most often applied to the waterlines of the eyes. This gives the eyes a bold, pronounced look that can quickly complete a makeup look.

Kohl eyeliner has a soft, creamy texture that is easy to line the eyes with. It seamlessly glides over the curves of the eyes, giving your makeup a silky, smooth look. Kohl is also used in many cultures as an essential makeup product.

To apply Kohl eyeliner smoothly, the trick is to slightly pull your eyelid until it’s taught, and apply your liner using small dashes from the inner corner of your eye outward. This will give you a beautiful, smooth line.

With Kohl eyeliner, you can create an effortless and sexy smokey eye. Here is how you can create a sexy smokey eye makeup look:

  1. Rub the kohl eye pencil on the back of your hand to create friction and heat.
  2. Dot it along your upper and lower lashes using small dashes.
  3. Dab a cotton swab with moisturizer and carefully smudge the line of dots with the swab.
  4. Add dark eye shadow to your eyelids to complete the look.
  5. You can also add pearl powder to the inner corner of your eye for a glamorous smokey eye. 

Once your look is complete, you’ll want to ensure that your makeup is long-lasting and looks great all day long. To prevent your Kohl eyeliner from coming off, use your eyeshadow as a primer to set your liner. Run the eyeshadow (dark shades preferably) along your eyelid against your lashes, and then trace over the eyeshadow with your liner. This will keep your eyeliner looking great all day long.

The Best Kohl Eyeliners

With so many kohl eyeliners on the market, it can be hard to choose one. First, decide what type of formula you would like, such as a gel formula or waterproof formula. Then, check out these kohl liners. 

Our Recommendations

Rimmel Soft Kohl Eyeliner ($5)

Smashbox Kohl Liner ($20)

MAC Eye Kohl ($20)

Final Thoughts

Kohl liner is a cosmetic staple used for many years and in various cultures. If you’re looking for a liner that will give your eyes a sexy, bold, and smokey look – Kohl eyeliner is the perfect solution.

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