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Definition: Kohl

Used across the Middle East (where it's called kohl), South Asia (where it's kajal or surma), and West Africa (where it's kwalli), this ubiquitous eyeliner made of soot has been used for thousands of years with little change in its formulation. In fact, the smoky eye is older than the pyramids, and there are recipes for it dating back to the Bronze Age. Traditional kohl preparations still popular in many other countries are banned by the FDA because they're made with lead. (You might see these in specialty stores. Don't buy them; they're illegal.) But there are plenty of lead sulphide-free kohls out there that can give you the sexy eyes of the ancients. Real kohl comes as a loose powder that you moisten before application; Guerlain's Terracotta Loose Kohl Eyeliner ($34) is a nice traditional kohl formulation that's been updated with a little shimmer. L'Oréal's HIP Kohl Eyeliner ($13) is another traditionally packaged kohl, and having used it I have to say that it's a steal.

Join The Conversation
Liselola Liselola 8 years
The Guerlain kohl is top! I have it in black and I often use it when I go out, it really gives you a fierce look. Since I'm a total fool in using eyeliner or eyepencil, this is perfect for me. I apply the kohl after I put on my foundation and before I use concealer under my eyes. You don't have to have a steady hand and the excess powder falls on my cheeks and I just use some make-up remover to remove it. Since I don't like a really black waterline, I use a q-tip to take the excess off. Then I put on my concealer, shadow and mascara et voilà! :)
Allytta Allytta 8 years
Egyptians didn't do smokey eye per sey, they just lined their eyes, there was no smudging and smoking involved. it was very precise.
saucyfilipina saucyfilipina 8 years
Oh, you're supposed to wet the loose powder & use it that way? I was wondering why the L'oreal HIP kohl eyeliner was in powder form. haha. Thanks for posting this & teaching me something new. :)
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 8 years
there is a girl on youtube who does makeup videos and did a few videos about these type of eyeliners. the girls youtube name is lollipop26
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