Many people may be unaware that the kohl they apply to their eyes and the surrounding hairs contains dangerous elements such as lead. Moreover, they may also be using products that are not suitable for men or women.
In a study of twenty-two samples purchased from shops in Morocco, Mauritania, the UK and elsewhere, seven contained significant levels of lead, and some were even unsafe for children.
Kohl is used to protect the eyes from sunlight and reflects light away. It is said to protect the eye from infections and diseases like conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers etc. It is also reported to strengthen the eyes, make them more beautiful and help in achieving better vision. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) himself applied it on his eyes. It is one of the sunnahs (commandments) of Islam, which if not practiced then it is a major sin. Imaam Tirmidhi (RA) lists five ahadeeth related to the importance and benefits of using Kohl.
Our ICP-OES results showed that the majority of kohl samples contain high levels of Pb (from galena stone). SEM-EDXS shows the existence of various types of kohl and its heterogeneous composition, as confirmed by the results from XRF. In addition, our analyses showed that kohl contains high concentrations of cadmium and iron. The presence of these metals in kohl might cause toxicity in children and women.
Kohl, also known as surma, is used as a makeup around the eyes. It is traditionally applied to the waterline and above and below the eyelashes in the Muslim world. It is believed to make the white part of the eye (iris) clearer and the coloured part of the eyes more colourful, and it is reported that it strengthens and widens the eyes. It is also believed to keep flies and mosquitoes away from the eyes. The ancient Egyptians made kohl from ground galena (lead sulfide) and sometimes from stibnite, antimony sulfide. They used it to protect their eyes from the desert sun, sand dust and diseases.
Modern kohls are often sold as eyeliners and mascaras, but they can contain high levels of lead (Pb) which is toxic. According to a study published in the journal Metallomics, scientists tested 23 samples of kohl purchased in Europe using portable XRF and SEM-EDXS instruments. They found that all but seven of the samples contained Pb at concentrations below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s safety limits for cosmetic use.
The element antimony is usually obtained from the sulfide mineral stibnite (Sb2S3) by roasting and reduction with carbon or iron. It is used in alloys with lead to improve the properties of solders and bullets, as a stabilizer for automotive brake pads, in paint and glass art, and in antimony trioxide as an additive for halogen-containing fire retardants.
While kohl is typically believed to contain antimony, studies of samples from Morocco, Mauritania, Great Britain and the United States have shown that the cosmetic actually contains only trace amounts of the metal. The majority of these twenty-two samples contained significantly more lead than antimony, with seven containing levels that exceeded 50%.
At CaFleureBon, we believe that if the makeup people are using on their eyes contains significant quantities of lead, they are being exposed to the potential for harm. To be safe, we advise all users to choose a cosmetic labelled as being free of antimony or opt for the traditional Middle Eastern kohl, known as ithmid, which is traditionally made from Galena and consists of lead sulfide.antimony Kohl