Many cultures around the world use kohl to darken and protect their eyes. The mineral antimony is a black powder, and it has been used as an ingredient in the kind of kohl that was applied to the waterline of the eye, above & below the eyebrows. Kohl is also believed to reflect bad vibes like mirrors, thereby protecting the user from harm.
Although laws in the United States and Britain forbid the sale of lead-based cosmetics, homemade kohl that contains the mineral galena (lead sulfide) is still widely available. Some modern eye cosmetics are marketed as “kohl” but are prepared differently and comply with health standards.
The aim of our study was to analyse 23 kohl products purchased from shops and over the internet, using XRF and SEM-EDXS. We found that the majority of the samples (n = 17) do not conform to European legislation, mainly because they contain minerals based on Pb. These include galena, cerussite and laurionite. The kohls were also contaminated with minerals of the alkali metals, including Zn (sample # 4), Cu and Fe. Some of these minerals were in the nano-size range, as shown by backscattered electron images (Fig. 2).
Besides Pb, other elements present in the samples were aluminium, magnesium and silicon. The kohls were mainly black or grey in colour, and had various textures and lustres. Some were pencils with a soft interior, others were in the form of pastes or were contained in containers with lids.antimony Kohl