411 On Kohl Liner


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 liners 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 liners that are not made out of kohl. These new “kohl” liners come in the forms of pencils and loose powders and they will give you the same sooty, sultry look.

Below is me wearing L’oreal HIP High Intensity Pigments Kohl Eyeliner in Navy Kohl:

What I Used
* Estee Lauder Nutritious Vita-Mineral Makeup SPF10 in Intensity 2.0
* MAC Studio Sculpt Concealer in NC30
* Anastasia Highlighting Eyebrow Kit to fill in eyebrows
* L’oreal HIP High Intensity Pigments Kohl Eyeliner in Navy Kohl on top and lower lash lines
* L’oreal Telescopic Clean Definition Mascara in Black
* MAC Sculpt and Shape Powder in Accentuate/Sculpt to contour and highlight

Read my reviews on kohl liners!

Image Credit: Ako Mahmoodi

Phyllis Li is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of Makeup For Life, one of the top 50 beauty blogs that focuses on celebrity makeup breakdowns, product reviews, makeup tutorials and all things beauty. Having lived and traveled in North America, Europe and Asia, she was exposed to different techniques and products at an early age and hopes to put a global perspective towards beauty. Phyllis won the Best Content Award by Total Beauty in 2008 and has been featured in various publications and websites including ELLE, Glamour.com, Yahoo Shine!, AOL Stylelist, Nylon Korea, VOGUE China, Ming Pao Daily (Canada) and Shanghai Weekly. In 2010, she was appointed one of the nine Real Women Ambassadors in the United States to take part in the Latisse® Wishes Challenge, working with Hollywood celebrity Kathy Ireland and raised over $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes for approximately 54 children. In 2012, she teamed up with luxury skincare brand TATCHA and released a limited-edition 3-Piece Set of her favorite beauty products. Phyllis currently lives in Chicago, US. She is a regular contributor to Shanghai Daily's StyleHai Magazine and a member of the Glam Beauty Network.


  1. 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.

  2. 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. =)

  3. 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?

  4. 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! :)

  5. 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 :)

  6. 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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