Kohl / Kajal / Surma

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Kohl / Kajal / Surma:

Kohl/Kajal/Surma is used to highlight the lower  and upper eyelids, accentuates the facial features.

Also Called

Kajal in Hindi, Surma in Punjabi, Kanmai in Tamil, Kaatuka in Telegu, Kaadige in Kannada, Kanmashi in Malayalam.

When is it used?

Worn by young girls and women of all ages practically everyday.

Traditionally used by Mothers from the Indian Sub-continent for their Infants. It is believed to strengthen the eyes and also protect the child from any “Evil Eye”. The Kohl powder is used to put a round “tikka” on the child’s face or behind the ear for protection.

The practice of using kohl to accentuate the eyes is not limited to just the Indian folks, the tribes in Africa and Egyptian Royalty was known to use it. The Bride uses elaborate eye make-up alongside the kajal.

Bindi KajalImage Courtesy: The Picturist

What are they made from?

Made from lead sulphide or from the soot of a lit lamp. In the West, it is made with Carbon or Organic Charcoal. Available as a liquid or pencil liner these days, they are available in different colours too.


Image Courtesy: The Picturist

Where would you find them?

Usually available in Novelty Shops or Fancy Stores.


  • Kohl or Kaajal has references in the Indian as well as the Western Ancient texts.
  • Besides, enhancing the facial features, this black powder is known to ward off the effects of the Evil Eye.
  • Known to protect eyes from the harmful rays of the sun.
  • Also, cleanses the eyes of any impurities.
  • In the Islamic Community, both men & women are known to use it for it’s health benefits.
  • In Punjabi & Sindhi Communities, even Men adorn it for certain wedding rituals.