In this article, I will be explaining the details surrounding the application of a traditional type of eyeliner known as Kohl Ithmid. Kohl (كُحْل) goes by many different names and spellings such kuhl, kohhel, kohol, cohol, as well as Kajal, Surma or Sormeh ( سرمه ).
Kohl is an oriental eye cosmetic that like other eyeliners is used to mark the perimeter of the eye to make the eyes look bigger. There also exists a type of kohl known as ‘Ithmid’ (a.k.a. Ismid) that has beneficial effects on the eyes, such as providing protection from harsh sunlight by absorbing UV rays. Excessive exposure of UV rays to the eye overtime can cause many eye ailments, such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
This is one main reason why the Bedouins of the desert, men and woman, applied ithmid kohl to their eyes. Likewise, the Ancient Egyptians used kohl to protect their eyes, and to treat ocular-related illnesses. Other therapeutic applications of ithmid kohl includes relieving eyestrain, eye pain, eye soreness, conjunctivitis, and light sensitivity. Ithmid also has the effect of stimulating the eyelashes to grow thicker and longer.
How to Apply Ithmid
When you want to apply ithmid kohl to the eye, you need the right tool for the job, which is the kohl stick. It is a simply a stick that is bluntly pointed on one end, and rounded bulbously on the other end. Imagine a miniature pool stick, if you will. Alternatively, it is quite common to use a Makhalah, which is a metal kohl container with the application wand going inside as the top of the container.
There are 2 main ways to apply Ithmid kohl to the eyes. You can either apply it to the waterline of the eyes, which is the space between where the eyelashes and eyeball meet. Or alternatively, you can apply the ithmid under and over the eyelashes.
Either way, the process to applying the ithmid starts with lightly mixing the kohl stick with the kohl powder, and then dragging the end of the kohl stick on the waterline of the eyes, and/or above & below the eyelashes. The best practice is to apply the kohl to each eye 3 times.
Note that high quality ithmid easily sticks to the applicator wand, and you don’t need to do anything else. However, if you find that your kohl doesn’t stick to applicator, then one simple trick that works is to dampen the stick with some water, lightly wipe it with a tissue to get rid of the excess water droplets, and then mix the stick in the kohl powder. The moisture helps to grab the kohl particles.
On the other hand, if you find that the kohl isn’t properly applying to the face, you may also try splashing your face once with water with a few drops of olive oil, gently drying the face with a towel, and then applying the kohl. The moisture helps the kohl stick on, and the olive oil helps to make the application smoother for crisper and cleaner lines.
Ithmid Quality Determines Where You Can Use it
Where you apply ithmid kohl to your eyes depends on the quality of the kohl preparation. Normally, you can apply eyeliner to the waterline of the eyes, or above and below the eyelashes. But it may be a bit different with kohl. First consider that ithmid is made by grinding up a metallic mineral known as galena (lead sulfide). Some claim that the mineral used instead is stibnite (antimony sulfide), but I found there to be less surrounding evidence for this to be the case.
Regardless, my point is that mineral-based kohl is made by grinding the metallic-stone into a fine powder. If the particles formed are too big, you will scratch and irritate the eye. In that case, you can only apply the ithmid above & below the eyelashes. However, if the particles produced are very small, then there should be no issue with applying the ithmid to the waterline of the eye.
You can determine the particle size of the ithmid kohl powder by observing how shiny it is. If the grey ithmid powder has very few sparkling particles, then you know that it has a very small particle size. If on the other hand the ithmid powder is very shiny, then you know that the particle size is quite big and can scratch up your eye. I highly suggest you use the latter type of ithmid powder only above and below the eyelashes.
In my experience with using different samples of pure ithmid kohl, I found that the particle size of these powders were not small enough to use comfortably on the water line. However, I had virtually no problems if I used the ithmid above & below the eyelashes instead.
So if you want to purchase and use ithmid kohl on your eyes, my advice is that you use the one that has a very fine consistency. Otherwise, after a couple of weeks of applying ithmid on the waterline, your eyes may become irritated and you would have to take a break from daily use. And one such place where you can acquire genuine ithmid kohl from is realithmidkohl.com – I personally have purchased their Hijazi black ithmid Kohl coming all the way from Medina, and I found it to have a finer consistency compared to my other samples.