Beauty Traditions: Kajal - Beauty Addict

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Beauty Traditions: Kajal

Kajal (also called kohl) was one of the very first eye liners. Used in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures to enhance beauty and protect from the evil eye, it is a thick, black paste made of ground lead sulfide or antimony sulfide mixed with castor oil. Kajal is usually applied with a fingertip on the inner rim of the lower eyelid, and sometimes on the upper lid as well. It can be made at home as well, using the soot from an oil lamp mixed with castor oil, camphor or clarified butter.

The effect of a kajal-rimmed eye is strikingly beautiful, but I reckon most of us would hesitate to start cooking up a castor-oil-and-soot mixture in our kitchens. The fact that another popular ingredient in kajal, lead, is highly poisonous doesn't do much to strengthen the cause, either (although it usually isn't made with lead these days, just camphor and soot).

However, there are some great products commercially available that can produce the same effect without the kitchen chemistry, or the poison. Stila has just debuted a line of Kajal eyeliners in a beautiful range of shades. Since they're gel-based, they glide on easily and blend well, allowing you to create looks ranging from soft to smokey to bold.

I recently picked up a special holiday set that contains 3 shimmering Stila kajal liners in gold, silver, and bronze. They really are lovely and are a great alternative to traditional pencils that can tug at the delicate skin around your eye. Word to the wise: the shades in the holiday pack are not available individually, so don't hesitate to pick up the set!