Creating "Authentic" Kohl/Kajal Makeup From Scratch





Introduction: Creating "Authentic" Kohl/Kajal Makeup From Scratch

Kohl or Kajal cosmetics provide that thick dramatic line around the eyes, that has always held a Middle-Eastern mystique or a Bollywood flair. Nearly anybody can wear it (and pull it off even),  not just the ladies, though men would probably not opt to wear it for looks but for practicality, or religious/tradition as it was believed to help in keeping eyes healthy by killing disease, repelling bugs, and helping block sunlight from being reflected into the eyes (though if Jack Sparrow uses it for vanity or practicality, we will never know.) Kohl is even put on children out of tradition or to protect their eyes from ailments as well as the "evil eye" curse.

Traditionally, kohl was made in marathon sessions of what was pretty much lots of soot collection where brass or copper plates/bowls were placed over oil lamps, mixed with a some ghee or oil and stowed away in a box. A little goes a long way with kohl, and one making would last a very long time if stored correctly. There were many variations of kohl-making but they all seem to  involve:

1) Something to burn and keep it burning
2) A flame
3) Some collective surface
4) Something added to make the kohl smooth and glide-able.

For a long time a big problem with kohl was it was made of crushed  galena aka lead sulfide which was causing plenty of lead poisoning. Besides that, who knows what else goes in to commercial kohl? This process of making it yourself makes it possible to monitor exactly what's going on to your face, because you have the choice in the matter from beginning to end.

Of course those with sensitive eyes or eye complications should probably get doctor approval when it comes to such homemade cosmetics.
((First instructable, yay here we go!))

Step 1: Somethin' to Burn

The first component you need for your home made kohl is something to burn.

If you are looking to go super traditional, you can go ahead and pick up a brass oil lamp (a mud lamp even, for max traditionality),  and your choice of sesame oil, castor oil, canola oil, or any plant oil that likes to be on fire.

Then comes the wick, which is made of clean muslin/ cotton cloth. Naturally no synthetic or used fabrics, I'm sure somehow that laundry detergent and other contaminants come off of recycled cloth as it is burned. But hey, its all up to you. I made my wick from a cut of cotton that was about 5inx3in and that was a bit too thick when twisted up for my makeshift lamp (basically just the bottom of the above lamp with its glass shade taken off.) So you might do well with 4inx4in.

This cut of cloth is dipped into a paste or juice, left to dry in the shade, and then dipped and dried again multiple times. Some mediums I've heard of have been almond paste, sandalwood paste, milkwood pine juice, walnut paste, etc.

I do not know how well most of those work,  I just used a mint paste from crushing up fresh mint and adding water.

I've read that sandalwood paste is apparently made by rubbing the end of a sandalwood stick vigorously on a textured stone while adding water.

In any case, once the wick has been dipped and dried out multiple times (I'll leave that to your discretion) , its time to twist it up and put it in your lamp full of oil.

Or, if you're taking the quick and dirty route, pick up an almond or other plant/wooden/candle item that will catch fire and stay aflame for a while, instead of going through the wick making, oil picking and paste dipping.

Step 2: Choose a Collective Surface

 A surface to collect the soot from whatever you burn is pretty important.

Plain brass and copper plates and shallow bowls seem to be the favorites for this application.

Whatever you pick, it has to be smooth and able to withstand the heat of a flame for quite a while.

I had a smooth aluminum bowl on hand with a rather flat bottom which worked out okay. I only wish I had a plate or rounder bottom bowl. My bowl had a lip or bezel on the bottom that impeded my scraping of soot off/out of it. (Used a small flat spoon for the scrapin')

Besides this collection surface, you need a way to anchor the surface above your lamp and perhaps even an enclosure to help direct the flame and smoke onto the bottom of the plate, blocking air from kicking the flame/soot/smoke around.
Basically what you want to do is invert your plate or bowl right over the flame and keep it there for the night/ until your lamp burns out. If your lamp accommodates with a short shade or anything to hold the plate above the flame.

Otherwise you can use "lab apparatus" like flask stands crucible triangles and such, alligator clamps that anchor to a table, create a rack out of wire hangers, those oil warmers for votive candles with a removable dish, etc. Just make sure your creation is fire proof and can stand the heat.

Set it up and let her light, make sure to make adjustments so you can SEE the black residue begin to build on the plate. Then leave it in a safe place, preferably outside and far away from flammable things and within sight.

Once again, if you're going quick and dirty, forget about going to all this trouble: find a brass/copper/silver spoon and hold it over your previously chosen quick and dirty flammable item while it is on fire.

Step 3: Collect and Mix

Once your lamp is all burned out and your receptacle is coated with a good layer of soot, gently take it out/ off of your set up, turn it right side up and begin scraping it from the sides and then into the clean kohl box that will be its home.

Here is another room for choice, which is probably the very most important of all. This is the component(s) you add to make your kohl glide over your beautiful skin. This may also be any of the oils you used to fuel your lamp, or it may also be ghee (purified/clarified butter). Along with this, you may wish to put a small dash of camphor powder, mint powder, etc, depending on if your goal for kohl is more medicinal or cosmetic. Just mix in a tiny drop at a time until your soot is even and smooth kohl.

You quick and dirty people: just add your oil tiny bit by tiny bit right to the soot to obtain your kohl.

Step 4: Use and Store

To use your homemade cosmetic, you can also use a variety of methods. The most traditional involves using a stick which is a little intimidating because in general things that poke don't go well with eyes. But using the kohl stick is relatively simple while taking some getting used to.  If you don't have a kohl application stick you could use the bald end of a  non-plastic q-tip/cotton swab (take all the cotton off the end of the stick), the pointy top of a food coloring bottle, or carve one out. All it has to do is look vaguely like the end of a small paintbrush. To apply you wet the end, dip in a small amount of kohl, and then glide the applicator from the inner corner of a just barely open eye out to the corner. Not quite as easy as it sounds, but you get the hang of it.

For the Q&D kohl wearers, swab your kohl right off the back of your spoon and do the same.

For me, I don't use the stick method very often. Instead, I use a round "Size 2" paint brush. That is, one that looks like a liquid eyeliner applicator brush. I apply in the same way I would liquid or pencil

Questions comments criticism  please do comment. I'm very often misinformed or misunderstanding of things and if you can help clear it up or correct me i appreciate it.



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    Copied? Everyone in the world has used soot as a cosmetic.



    1 reply

    Do you have any proof be going off all caps locks style? All I could find about the history of Kajal in india of "centuries old practices" while Kohl goes back millennial in Egypt. It can be traced to 3100 BCE meaning it is a practice that is 5100 years old. Its so tied into thier culture a Kohled eye is the symbol of the god Horus. From what I can tell the process started in the desserts of where the it was believed to help cut down sun glare moved up the middle east eventually into India.