Tips & Tricks

What Is A Kohl Eyeliner?

February 24, 2009

For centuries, Kohl, otherwise known as Kajal, has been one of the staples of many women in India and the Middle East. Not only is it used as mascara, it is applied to darken the eyelids and protect the eyes from the sun and even evil spirits.

Traditional kohl, which is very different from the kohl eyeliners we see nowadays, is stored in a box and applied with a stick-like applicator. With the eyes closed, the applicator is placed along the lower lid while the user gently slides the stick from one end to the other to get a smudgy line on both the upper and lower lids. Sounds scary I know but I have tried this with contacts on and trust me, it will not hurt your eyes if you do it right.

Due to the highly toxic lead it contains, traditional kohl is not sold in the US but the good news is makeup companies have replaced it with kohl eyeliners that are safer and more user-friendly. These modern kohl liners come in the forms of pencils, loose powders and crayons and will give you the same sooty, sultry effect.

Below is me wearing L’oreal Le Kohl Duo Shadow + Liner in Black/Vanilla:

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  • Reply Annie February 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    I love it, Nice work, kind of sultry but not overdone.

    You have a great blog, so comprehensive but easy to understand. I’ve found some great products and tips due to your recommendations.

    Btw, are you a beauty editor, how do you get some much access to so many beauty products? I was just wondering.

  • Reply Catherine February 24, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Oh wow, that looks so gorgeous on you!! I might have to check those out next time HIP is on sale. I’ve been hesitant mostly because my eyes can be pretty sensitive. I’ll keep a lookout for your review. =)

  • Reply Ingrid February 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Phyllis, that looks awesome! I actually prefer you without the contact lens (but your eyes look great either way). How long do the loreal pigments stay?

  • Reply Jane February 24, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    hey phyllis, i really love the product and the whole look. could you possibly expand on this article by teaching us how to line our inner eyes? i’ve tried with pencil and liquid eyeliner but it tends to MELT (i guess because our inner eyes are not “skin” so it doesn’t stick?)… so the only way i can line my lower eyes is to dot it along the lashline…and it is NO WAYYY near as sexy as what you did here (so close to the eye).

    thanks! 🙂

  • Reply Phyllis February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am


    Like all of you, I’m completely obsessed with makeup which is why I’m always on the hunt for the latest hottest beauty products.

    If you want to find out more about me, check out my interview with Makeup Bag:

  • Reply Phyllis February 25, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Catherine, Ingrid,

    I’ll post reviews asap.

  • Reply Karen February 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    You can do it so neatly! I tried them and there are fallouts all over the place 🙁

  • Reply anon February 25, 2009 at 7:22 pm


    You should try tapping the excess off first then applying it. It will help. 🙂

  • Reply Pinklye February 26, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Oh I love Kohl ! When I was in India during holidays, I bought a kohl and I love this sultry look. And it’s very good for people who wear contact lenses 🙂

  • Reply blackbeauty February 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    i cant live without my kohl liner! it looks awesome on your lovely almond eyes! totally gives you a natural but gorge look.. work it! 😀

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