Safety concerns of smoky eyes!

Column Lifestyle : Shaman Hegde

Eyes are one of the most delicate and sensitive organs of the body and protecting them from harmful external factors is important. Kajal or kohl, is a favourite with women. Many do not even step out of the home without applying it. Application of kajal to kids  is a common practice seen in India. Kajal is applied to the eyes of infants with the belief that it will better their eyesight apart from making them look beautiful. It is also believed that a little black bindi/dot on their cheek or behind the ear will stave off the evil eye. Although concerns about its safety have been raised, its use in pediatric age is very prevalent.


Kajal is a popular eye care product and its use has been reported since ancient times. Kajal has been used by women as well as men since time immemorial. Ancient Egyptians were known to make kohl by grinding galena (lead sulfide) and other therapeutically active ingredients. In South Asia, it is prepared by placing a brass vessel on a burning earthen lamp and then mixing the soot deposited on it with castor oil or ghee. The mixture is then stored in small boxes. There are various method of preparation of kajal followed across the country.


Most commercially produced ‘kajal’ contain high levels of lead. Studies have revealed that ‘Kajal’ comprises of galena, minium, amorphous carbon, magnetite and zincite. Prolonged application may cause excessive lead storage in the body, affecting the brain and bone marrow, causing convulsions and anemia. Dirty fingers, sharp and uneven fingernails of the applier are potentially harmful to the eyes.


Nowadays, there are various chemical-free or natural make-up products available in the market. We can give them a try. But a word of caution is to not just blindly opt for any herbal product. Check the company and the ingredients they have used to be sure about its authenticity. Make it a point to remove the eye make-up before sleeping. As eyes are very sensitive and leaving make-up overnight, even if it is herbal, can lead to infections and other eye problems. It can cause dry eyes by blocking the tear ducts. The shimmery particles of eye shadow are for eyelids and not for eyes and not wiping it before sleep can let it go inside which can lead to infections. If mascara, eyeliner and kohl are not wiped off, they get accumulated at the corners of the eyes and also seep inside the cornea.


Eyes are the mirrors of the soul. So let’s not damage it.



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