Tuesday, October 16, 2012


My Honey Boo Boo is in the United Arab Emirates on business! Sounds awesome, right? Of course right after I got over the fact that I was not going with him to explore what is probably the world's most insane shopping destinations a la Carrie Bradshaw, I started checking out the Emirati beauty blogs to see what sort of beauty goodies he could bring back for me. And how do they get that perfect smoky eye anyway? That perfect black waterline and tightline? Then I read it..."Kajal" or "Surma". Paste, cone, pencil, or powder. Apply to waterline and instantly look sexy and mysterious. Some brands make downright bizarre claims, but all I cared about was being able to line my waterline without looking like Taylor Momsen soon afterwards because that is not the look I'm going for.  I decided I couldn't wait for hubs, I wanted to try it now!

Not So Authentic Kohl/Kajal/Surma

Apparently, lots of companies make a kajal liner. Some are not all that authentic, some are not kajal at all. Givenchy makes two authentic style kajals; a cone and a powder. Both are about $36 USD. The packaging is fantastic!   Unfortunately, I am unable to attest to to magical Guerlain eyelining powers, but I'm tempted to buy one of these just because it would look so cool at my makeup mirror...a real ritual!

Guerlain Khol
Guerlain Kajal

Sephora, Victoria's Secret, and Clarins have made kajal bullets or cones on a seasonal or limited edition basis. Most major brands have a kajal that they market overseas; in fact the most popular kajal right now in India is the Maybelline Colossal Kajal. It gets awesome ratings. Of course I want one.

 L'Oreal has actually made two attempts at bringing kajal to the US market. One flopped, the other has just been released. The one that flopped was actually part of their H.I.P. line. I actually bought it when it was 75% off  at CVS and after a few attempts, threw it in a drawer since (surprise) I didn't know how to use it. If I'd known the proper way to word it, I would have been on YouTube learning how to apply it and  wearing it sooner. Here it is:
The liner and how to apply it

It's a stick. In some powder. Anyone who has an old container of Bare Minerals laying around knows that powder gets EVERYWHERE and is therefore an intimidating choice for contact lens wearers and anyone who travels often, but when applied properly, it can stay for quite a while as the moisture from your eye creates an almost paste-like consistency on the waterline. I dug it out of my makeup drawer and tried applying it again after watching some How To videos on YouTube and it really does make a nice black budge proof line!

You can still purchase this from the L'Oreal website for about $13 USD. 

I picked up L'Oreal's Voluminous Smouldering Eyeliner in the exchange while buying toilet paper and sunblock because again, it was on sale. Sadly, I wasn't as impressed. When I looked at the package again, I noticed that it said it was kajal "inspired". It's really just a big, pointy kajal imitator eye pencil. Boo. It was $6 USD.

Controversy, controversy...

 I called a few Indo Pak grocery stores, a few Middle Eastern markets, an Indian clothing store, and the woman I go to keep my eyebrows from becoming an eyebrow to see if I could find some authentic kajal liners. The kind that are touted as Ayurvedic medicine, although some make ridiculous claims like that they will restore your vision and you can "throw away your spectacles". I'm here to tell you that even after a few weeks of kajal wear, I have glasses on right now. 

Real kajals  are hard to find in the USA (but not impossible) since they're restricted for import  due to some of the traditional ayurvedic formulas containing lead.

The Hashmi stick is the kajal everyone goes bonkers for and also the kajal attached to the NYC lead controversy. Back in 2007, the NYC Health Department reported that kajal or surma samples they took contained lead. Since that report came out, the company that makes the very popular Hashmi Kohl, Kajal, or Surma has gone out of their way to get the word out that the product does not contain lead. The apparent  lead containing ingredient has been replaced with carbon or "amorphous black". You can check their site for toxicology reports conducted in the US in 2009 and 2011 at www.hashmisurma.com. and ISO certificates. The lead report from NYC was dated 2007; The kajal stick I have was manufactured in 2011 and is labeled Pb 0.00%. If that's not good enough, you can always get a lead detection kit and test it yourself. It costs about $15 USD for 8 tests. They're good to have around if you live in an old house or have small children who put toys in their mouths.

Now, one may argue that lots of products contain lead...and they do (check out this list http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/lead/sources.htm), but are you intentionally sticking most of those products in your eye? Probably not. Lots of them go on your lips. Of course, the controversial Hashmi Kajal is my favorite, despite the controversy. It's the fastest, delivers the best color, is the longest lasting and the oldest formula (coming from a company over 200 years old). It glides on like butter, probably because butter is one of the ingredients. There's nothing unrecognizable in it. Here's a video demonstrating how to apply cone shaped Kajal:

Cool, huh? I got this one at a middle eastern market and paid $4 USD which is apparently an outrageous markup, but I've seen them sold online for up to $15 USD each. With all the money I've spent on liners that never stuck to my waterline, I would have gladly spent $15. If you get your hands on one, sanitize it first by giving it a rub with a paper towel and then wipe it with an alcohol swab. If you apply it as shown in the video, it will never dull or need to be sharpened and 1 cone should last about 2 years with daily use. Not bad, huh?

Here's my entire collection:

My collection

The Lakme Kajal pencil I picked up at the Indo Pak Grocery was about $3 USD, which from what I hear is an outrageous markup because "they're so cheap in India", but when I factor in the price of an airplane ticket, I'd say I got a good deal. It delivers a really nice, shiny black line , but it's a bit difficult to keep the point and sharpen. The pencil part of it is plastic. I guess for $3 I can't complain.

The Shingar Kajal Paste I picked up in another grocery  reminded me of MAC's Blacktrack, but almost a  vinyl coated version of it. I applied it with a MAC 210 brush and I got a beautiful shiny, plastic line that lasted all day. The formula has camphor in it, so it does feel nice on the eyes. As you can see, the packaging is very plain, which doesn't bother me any...I'm a no frills kind of gal sometimes, BUT I noticed that even two days after I removed it, I could still kind of taste camphor at the back of my mouth. I couldn't find a list of ingredients anywhere online, but I did find a few articles stating that this formula may contain lead. Buzzkill. It cost 85 cents, but it went in the trash after that.

If you've been desperately looking for something to stick to your waterline, find a kajal. Once they "set", they don't really travel. It just fades off instead of going somewhere else on your face.

Pulling off the kajal look is so easy! A steady hand and a strong brow and a clean face. Keep it simple! Primer, foundation, a bit of shadow in the crease and a filled in full brows (try MAC Cork for both!), mascara, and a peachy blush (such as MAC Mineralize Warm Soul) and gloss.


  1. has it got lead in it because i use it a lot

  2. From what I've heard, the mass produced kajals have vastly improved their practices after quite a bit of backlash about lead. Stay away from homemade kajals at markets though, because you never know what they're putting in it!