Lies in your Eyes

Kajal is one cosmetic product which today you can find in every girl or woman’s hand bag (or vanity drawer). How did Kajal suddenly become so popular? From a traditional product how did it turn into a must-have cosmetic product? Kajal or Kohl as it is also called was used in ancient Egypt and later in the middle east as a multi-functional product- to protect the eyes from harsh sun, to make the eyes look bigger and hence more beautiful.

Back then, the black colour came from burning a lamp and collecting the soot. This soot which was essentially a form of carbon was later also found to have anti-microbial properties.

It is unclear exactly at what point Kajal originated in India, perhaps simultaneously as in the Arab world. However, Ayurveda clearly looked at Kajal as more than a make-up tool. To Lamp Black, was added Ghee and Camphor. Both these ingredients had specific benefits. As most of India has harsh summers, staying outdoors would lead to dryness & irritation of eyes.

Ghee which Ayurveda has always regarded as an excellent Vata reducing ingredient was helpful in reducing the dryness. Camphor was extremely helpful in cooling and relaxing the eyes. Even today, camphor is an essential ingredient of many pain relieving ointments but most of it is synthetic as natural camphor is scarce and expensive.

Therefore, the traditional Ayurvedic Kajal, which was applied on the waterline and not away from it, kept the eyes clean, moisturized and relaxed. Hence less straining or squinting of eyes, which meant less crow’s feet, healthier eye lashes and ultimately naturally beautiful eyes.

Making a genuine Ayurvedic Kajal involved a lot of effort and cost. Therefore, for a while the usage of Kajal in India declined. The few companies that made traditional kajal shut shop or explored alternatives.

One such alternative was to make Kajal using industrial carbon black which was easily available and that too at a low cost. The manufacturer did not have to literally burn midnight oil to make the Kajal. So the Kajal started to make a comeback and grew back in popularity. At this time, the large cosmetic companies decided to cash in on this but instead of putting in all the sweat and effort, they brought in their eye liners and sold them as Kajals.

The only similarity these eyeliners have with Kajals is the colour i.e black. There is no natural moisturizer, no cooling agent and obviously no lamp black. It’s just black pigments, petrochemicals and a cocktail of other harsh chemicals to make it bind to your skin so that it lasts long. The chemicals get more nasty as brands compete to make the Kajal stay longer. And then advise you to use an even more nasty remover to take it off !

Do you know that at least 3 leading brands and an upcoming “natural” one sell Kajals which are essentially eye liner pencils, made by the same manufacturer of make-up products sitting in Europe. Another mega brand imports them from China. That's like buying bottles of soda, adding artificial flavor and labeling it as champagne.

The question then is, why are these brands selling these black colour pencils as Kajals ? Why don't they just sell them as eye liners? Here is your chance to reveal the truth. Can you find this out before it is revealed on this blog? The first right answer gets a surprise gift!

Until then start reading the packaging of your smudge proof Kajal to see where it comes from and what is it made of and tell your friends to do the same. Its time you opened those beautiful eyes.

Watch this space for more!

Truthfully Yours

Comments (5)

  • Pallavi on Oct 11, 2017

    “Eye liner” the word itself is modern(western). Eye liner is chemically made and is harsh on skin. But I bet very few people understand, study the product which they use on them. Also eye-liners when in bottle with a brush requires lot of patience to apply whereas if given in pencil/stick form, then its little easy to apply and less time consuming. Kajal is what I, you and everybody in India knows what it is? whats its medical value and hows its made. So a company basically don’t need to invest more in advertising and for selling an eye-liner as a kajal in India. As I said above, people don’t study their product before use. Once seen on TV they immediately bring it and apply it and spread the news its so good. Awareness and understanding is lagging. Also I wanted to point out that, they were less options for choosing. When I wanted to buy a kajal, if I go to a shop/mall I only see those chemical products. And if I want something natural, I have to dig earth and who has time for that :) so I too opted a chemical kajal stick to make myself look beautiful and presentable when I work in my office. But I have a choice now with soultree to represent my eyes with confidence of nature. Thank you.

  • Neeru on Sep 01, 2017

    So that they can then sell more eye-related products and coz Indian market accepts Kajal better than eye-liner, which is considered for the urban chic. And obviously it comes cheaper than the actul kajal since it is not made the traditional way. My mom used to make kajal by collecting the soot of lamp kept burning the entire night of Diwali. It used to hurt a lot. I know that Almond oil and camphor are useful ingredients of traditional kajal applied to infants eyes. Now nobody applies kajal to babies eyes and one is considered rustic, uneducated if one even sees such a baby in our old b/w photos.

  • Jyoti on Jul 01, 2017

    Night cream for pigmented skin
    Age 35+

  • Parveen on Jun 24, 2017

    Kajal can be applied as liner but liner can’t be applied as kajal making it a makeup basic.
    Eventually these chemical based kajals will cause under eye issues and their brands will be able to sell more concealer and under eye products…

  • Parul on Jun 04, 2017

    Some product for pigmentation

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