What is Kajal and is it safe around my eyes?

Rozy asks…Is Himalaya Herbals Kajal safe to put around eyes? What ingredient gives it pigment?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Before we can talk about this specific product, we need to explain what is kajal is.

Curious about kajal

Those of you not familiar with Kajal may recognize it by its more common name: Kohl, which is a pigment that has been used since ancient time in parts of Asia and Africa to darken the area around the eyes. (“Kajal” typically refers to Kohl eyeliner while “Surma” refers to Kohl powder.)

Historically kohl was made from a sulfide of lead which, as we all know now, is not the safest of chemicals to expose yourself too. While some old-school kohl/kajal products still exist, most modern versions (like STILA Kajal Eye Liner use the name but not the lead. Instead, they use iron oxide pigments (like those used in mascaras) which are much safer and give the same basic effect.

Is Himalaya Herbals Kajal safe?

Here is where it gets tricky. Unfortunately this company, like many others, does not provide full ingredients lists for its products online. All we’ve been able to find is what they refer to as the “key ingredients” which to us is just marketing speak for “we’re only going to tell you about the ingredients we want you to know about.” Still for the sake of completeness here are the ingredients that we were able to find:

Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus, Vatada) Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora, Karpura) Castor Oil (Ricinus communi, Eranda) Rose (Rosa damascene, Shatapatri) Triphala consisting of the fruits Emblica officinalis (Amalaki), Terminalia chebula (Haritaki) and Terminalia bellerica (Vibhitaki)

It’s obvious that this formula must have more ingredients since there’s nothing here that contains a black pigment. It’s likely that the product uses an iron oxide just like most other companies do you. But, since, in their infinite wisdom they’ve chosen not to share that information with us, there is no way to know for sure that they are not using a lead compound.

Unless you can get the company to give you a full ingredient list I would err on the side of safety and buy a product that’s honest and open about the ingredients it contains.