Is Kohl Eyeliner Safe? What You Need To Know

Although kohl eyeliner has been used around the globe for several years, there have always been concerns about its toxicity levels and the potential harm it could do to your eyes. So is kohl eyeliner safe to use?

Is Kohl Eyeliner Safe

Actual kohl eyeliner is unsafe to use and unapproved for cosmetic use in the United States. This is because it contains high amounts of lead.

However, modern ‘kohl’ eyeliners that take their name after the texture and color of kohl are perfectly safe to use.

What Is Kohl

Kohl was historically used by the Egyptians, for noblewomen and queens to show their importance and to protect them. 

At one point, kohl was also believed to actually protect the eyes against ailments, and applying a dark circle around the eyes could prevent them from sun damage.

Nowadays Kohl is used in and around the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries to protect the eyes against infections and diseases that could cause life-long problems. 

It is also still used in these countries as a form of cosmetic used on women, children, and babies and it’s believed to be very protecting too.

Many cosmetic brands across Europe do advertise ‘kohl eyeliners however they refer to the black charcoal color of the eyeliner and not the ingredient itself. 

These modern eyeliners also have a very soft formula that makes the eyeliner great for smudging and smokey eye makeup.

Is It Safe To Use Kohl Eyeliner?

Is It Safe To Use Kohl Eyeliner

In the past, Kohl was extremely harmful due to its lead content.

Back in the days of the Egyptians, women literally crushed up coal and applied it to their eyes, we’re sure safely wasn’t too much of a concern back then. 

Even now, especially in some Middle Eastern countries, Kohl products still contain a large amount of lead sulfide which when applied over a period of time can actually sink into the body and cause lead poisoning. This can be fatal. 

There are safe Kohl products on the market now.

If you see a product but aren’t sure if it’s safe to use, take a Kohl pencil, for example, check on the label to see if the color additives have been FDA approved for the eye area. 

If no additives have been listed then it means that the product includes some form of lead and you should follow the FDA’s recommendations and not use it. 

The United States has banned any use of lead in cosmetics that are created or imported into the country. 

This means that if you find a Kohl product in the U.S. unless illegally imported, it’s likely to be a safer version. 

Where Can You Find Kohl Products?

All of the big cosmetic brands use the name ‘kohl’ in their eyeliners, eyeshadows and pencils. 

These big brands include M.A.C, Loreal, and The Body Shop and their kohl products are safe for use.

Is Kohl Non-Toxic?

Is Kohl Non-Toxic

As Kohl products contain lead sulfide, they are classified as toxic. 

Many Kohl products have been linked to lead poisoning in women and children around the world.

Somehow it’s still used in Asian and Middle Eastern countries, even on babies and small children. 

Research has shown that when testing on a range of modern kohl products, over two-thirds still contained lead sulfide. 

Shockingly, these products were found in the Middle East and Asia, two places where Kohl products are still used on very young children.

The range of lead levels in these products was between 2.9% and 100%.

Seven of the products were lead-free, four had a lead content of 2.9 – 34.1% and, shockingly, more than ten had levels of 84% and over. 

This concludes that some products that are being used on children in these counties contain 100% lead. 

If the product is used on a child daily, for years, that child is likely to die of lead poisoning before the age of 5. 

There are other elements in Kohl products that could also be a worry. 

The same study above showed the most common elements to be: aluminum, oxygen, titanian, carbon, iron, magnesium, silicon, and sulfur. 

Most of these are safe minerals, but some, when used regularly, can also cause forms of poisoning. 

Can Kohl Be Harmful To Eyes?

Can Kohl Be Harmful To Eyes

Although praised in Asian and Eastern countries for having amazing benefits to the eyes such as protection from the sun and antibacterial properties. 

Kohl is actually very harmful to the eyes if it contains a high level of lead sulfide.

As you are probably now aware from the rest of this article, lead sulfide is the problem here and not necessarily Kohl. 

This is important to remember as we have mentioned above not even Kohl products contain lead sulfide and it’s always worth checking the label before purchasing. 

The main risk of using Kohl on the eyes is that it can lead to irritation and with long-term use, even blindness. 

This is because of vasodilation, which means that due to the lead sulfide, the blood flow in the optic nerve and retina in the eye is reduced. 

This reduction is what can cause macular degeneration, basically blindness or lack of vision. 

High levels of lead sulfide can also lead to an increase of pressure in the eye, increased pressure is never good for the eyes and can cause a serious amount of pain, let alone life-long damage. 

This pressure causes Glaucoma and this is the leading cause of blindness on Earth. At first, people tend to lose peripheral vision, and eventually over time, central vision too. 

For this reason, we would happily classify Kohl products (containing lead sulfide) as very harmful to the eyes.