≡ Menu

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sp May 20, 2016, 12:43 pm

    Is Eyetex kajal safe to use?does its contain any harmful ingredients
    Can i use it daily
    Plz do answer my question
    Thank you in advance:)

    • Randy Schueller May 20, 2016, 2:11 pm

      If you post the ingredient list I’d be happy to look at it.

      • Neeru June 8, 2016, 5:31 am

        Traditionally Kajal is made in almost all Indian households by burning oil or clarified butter (ghee). The soot formed is collected and mixed with castor oil to form a paste like consistency. Most of the times camphor is burnt along . Apart from the chemicals used in bleaching the cotton wick nothing is harmful. The black color comes from the soot.

  • Dani January 11, 2017, 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the insight to kohl.
    I’m investigating the potential hazards of homemade kohl/kajal, which like Neeru mentioned in her comment above, is made at home by burning the oil (almond, castor, or clarified butter/ghee) with a cotton wick, collecting the soot on a flame-resistant plate (steel or copper), then using as is or mixing with a bit of those same oils (almond, castor, or ghee) with some small granules of camphor optionally mixed in.

    I imagine the ingredients listed in your article are for the products used to make the soot and the resulting paste. I’m not sure how one would list “almond oil soot” as an ingredient, unless it’s that simple.

    Can you elaborate more on the potential hazards of homemade soot using almond oil, castor oil, or clarified butter? And what about camphor?

    Plain soot seems to be a better alternative than some other eye pigments that can include parabens and other colorants, as cosmetics aren’t generally regulated. Camphor is in lots of cosmetics too, like lip balms and lipsticks, but I’m hesitant to use it for the eye.
    Thank you.

    • Randy Schueller January 12, 2017, 7:05 am

      I don’t think making your own eye area pigments by burning almond oil is a good idea. I don’t know for sure but there could be contaminants that could be dangerous. Contrary to what you said, cosmetics ARE regulated. If you buy from a reputable brand you’ll get something that’s been screened not to include dangerous ingredients. If you’re making your own, that may not be the case.

  • shalu May 20, 2018, 10:09 pm

    my long lasting kajal lists the following ingredients. is it safe to use

    Iron Oxides, Black 2, Mica, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Dimethicone, Synthetic Wax, Silica, Stearyl Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Trimethylsiloxysilicate/Dimethiconol Crosspolymer, Octadecene, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Isoceteth-10.

    • Perry Romanowski June 15, 2019, 12:31 pm

      Those ingredients can be used safely.

    • Leela Immadisetty June 11, 2020, 2:06 pm

      shalu…what brand do you use…? just curious, so that i can try as Randy said thise ingredients were safe.

  • Divya November 17, 2018, 12:29 pm

    Is the Kohl from ‘Barve’ brand safe and doesn’t contains lead?

  • Anjali March 9, 2020, 9:26 pm

    Hi pls tell me can I make soit using burnt almonds and mix it with almond oil to use it as Kajal pls tell me is it safe