The Kajal and Kohl Tradition

For centuries women of East Indian, Middle Eastern and African descent have darkened their eyes and eyelashes with “kohl” or “kajal” to accentuate their eyes and achieve a look that we equate today with sultry and seductive beauty. Made from a mixture of soot and other ingredients, kohl paste was worn by Egyptian queens and other women to protect one’s eyes from the sun and believed to prevent eye ailments. Traditionally, mothers also dotted kajal behind infants ears and around their eyes to ward off the “evil eye.”

The Kajal Look Photocredit: Vogue India

In Punjabi culture, men wore kajal, called “surma,” around their eyes on their wedding day for the same reason. Today, a ritual enacting the application of “surma” by his sister-in-laws occurs before the groom embarks on his journey to the bride’s home for the wedding ceremony, but most men do not actually wear the paste anymore.

Due to its harmful chemical ingredients, including lead and charcoal, the regular use of traditional kajal paste is a serious health concern. However, today cosmetic companies across the world have created a variety of products in the form of liners and cream shadows in order to continue on this South Asian beauty look, while addressing harmful chemical ingredients found in traditional kohl. For example, cosmetic companies now use organic charcoal, nutrient oils, and gum resins instead of harmful lead ingredients found in traditional formulae.

The Transition of Kohl into Modern Day Beauty Trends

The traditional kajal and kohl aesthetic gained popularity all over the world. Cosmetic lines including Stila, Givenchy and Annabelle carry kohl liners and other products so that women of all ethnicities can get in on this sultry look. After all, isn’t the smokey eye, similar in impact, one of the most common tricks women turn to when going out for a night on the town?

Today the sensuous kajal look can also be achieved using colour liners, for today I will review four of Annabelle’s black liners. Annabelle is a Canadian cosmetic line, so by sporting one of these liners you’ll support a national brand. With Annabelle’s variety of liners and shades
you’ll definitely find the optimal black in a shade and texture for YOUR OWN unique take on the kajal look.

A Review of  4 Black Liners from Annabelle Cometics to achieve the Kajal Look

In order of preference with 4 being my personal favourite, here you go!

1. Annabelle Kohl Eyeliner
Shade: 73 Black
Features: Hypo-allergenic so its great for sensitive skin and won’t cause breakouts.
Bold black colour with a clean finish that isn’t chalky. Excellent for applying a very thin line of black, or to achieve a dramatic “cat eye” look.


2. Annabelle Kohl Eyeliner 2
Shade: 115 Black Pearl
Features: Hypo-allergenic. This muted charcoal grey, with a subtle metallic sheen will easily transfer into your morning beauty regiment if you find black too bold a statement for your day peepers.


3. Annabelle Smoothliner
Shade: Gunmetal
Features: Hypo-allergenic and waterproof so once its on, the liner won’t budge even on windy days when your eyes water! The creamy texture of the liner means smooth (like its name) and flawless application. Plus, you can easily blend the liner into your shadow with a contour brush.


4. Annabelle Smudge Liner
Shade: OhMyGoth!
Features: An extra bold black shade with a built-in smudger tip for blending the liner allows you to effortlessly mimic the sensuous kohl look. This was definitely my favourite of the four liners because it allowed me to be creative and play around with the kajal look, without forcing me to break out extra makeup brushes. Plus, its ophthalmologist tested so your eyes are in good hands!


TIP: To avoid raccoon eyes once you wash your “kajal” off, use a dab of makeup remover on a cotton pad to take off the excess before you wash your face. Try MAC’s Gently Off Eye and Lip Makeup Remover, its ideal for gals with sensitive skin.

Stay tuned for more eye makeup reviews and beauty tips all this week!