Question - Kohl (surma) is a traditional product used in Asia and Africa as eyeliner to darken the eyelids and as mascara for the eyelashes as well as to stop bleeding and after circumcision for “hygienic purposes”. Most preparations of kohl contain substantial concentrations of lead and have been implicated in some cases of lead toxicity. How is kohl made?
Answer - The cited article notes “Kohl is an ointment prepared by burning vegetable fat and adding charcoal to the residue or a powder made from lead sulphide and ingredients added such as carbon, herbs, plant juices and vegetable ashes.” (Borowska S and Brzoska MM. Metals in cosmetics: implications for human health. 2015 J Applied Tox 35:551-572)