Ithmid Kohl Aswad Ahmar Collection

Guide to Apply Ithmid Kohl & Checking Its Quality

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.

Ithmid Khol on eye waterline under & over 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.

EDIT: Although I personally avoid using oil because this causes the ithmid to move away from its place. Oil is better for removing the ithmid or treating dry skin.

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.

Ithmid Kohl Powder in Plastic Bag from Saudi Arabia
You can see that this Ithmid Kohl is not prepared properly, as it has big pieces that cause the powder to shine excessively

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.

High Quality Ithmid Kohl Aswad from Hijaz
This is a very high quality ithmid kohl that comes from the Hijazi region of Saudi Arabia. Notice how the shining particles are smaller and less in number. The powder is more consistently fine and a lot better for the eye.

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.

But there is a way if you do want to use a rougher quality of ithmid with bigger particles. You have to use a very smooth, dry kohl stick. After dipping it into the kohl, you tap the stick several times, and this shakes off the bigger particles that could irritate the eye. But for this benefit the kohl stick needs to be dry and smooth.

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 – 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.

If you want to find out more about ithmid, I will write more about its composition, origin, health & medicinal effects in future articles.

Video Summary about Ithmid

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19 thoughts to “Guide to Apply Ithmid Kohl & Checking Its Quality”

    1. In my experience, the eyelash’s length increases for sure. Ithmid is also said to improve eyesight, but right now I am working on making the same thing but super-fine. A lot of the time the ithmid you can get now a days is too coarse for continuous use.

  1. Assalamu allaikum. I’ve been looking online and trying to find authentic kohl. Would you be able to make a recommendation? I’m hoping to find one that will bring clarity to my vision. I’m deciding betwen :

    Can you suggest which brand is better? Or should I purchase the one that you bought from ?

    JazakAllah khair

    1. I have only experience with ithmid, which is authentic as far as I can tell. In my experience, the powder only needed some refining. But without refinement, its good to use in small amounts or occasionally.

      1. but doesnt real kohl ithmid have stibnite kohl or it is lead sulphide? Which is the real one? And what is evidence please

        Also the hijaazi one you mention from madinah it says it has no lead so how can it be galena if it is lead sulphide?

        1. Allahu ^alim, Galena could be the actual Ithmid. Or it could be some other mineral, you would have to ask a scholar. But the usage of Galena as kohl was widespread in the past by the Ancient Egyptians and other nations, and even now a days Galena-based kohl is still used in Middle Eastern countries. I know that they use it in Saudi Arabia. In Morocco they also use it.

          The case studies I went through that analyzed the composition of kohl. I reviewed that here:

          But I definitely do find that the grey colored kohl, which I believe is made out of pulverized Galena, makes my eyelashes longer. I am currently using the Hijaazi kohl mixed with powdered Galena stone that originates from Peru.

          Finally, Elemental Lead is not the same as Lead Sulphide. Elemental Lead is in reference to the pure metal itself. Lead sulfide is a mineral composed of lead and sulfur molecules binding to each other to form a cubic structure.

          1. Assalaamu alaykum. Just wanted to say JazakAllahu khayran for your work with ithmid. Using ithmid for sunnah isn’t as prevalent amongst the new generation of Muslims (particularly in the West), and those that do use it (in my experience) use the lead-based ones from the Indo-Pak region. So your works are a great help for those in the West.

            Also – I remember reading a salty comment under your ithmid-making video where he claimed that what you were grinding wasn’t ithmid because apparently ithmid is supposed to be brown. I have never heard that before – nonetheless, did you happen to get more info on that?

            Once again – jazakAllahu khayran, and Baarak Allahu feek!

          2. Yea, I also use the Galena (lead sulfide) type of Ithmid, as that is what is commonly used now a days and in the past (like in Ancient Egypt).

            I have heard of brown or yellowish color, but I would need to confirm with a scholar first on that matter. I personally can only identify Galena for making the Aswad type of Ithmid, I don’t know about other types that much.

            Amin Wa Feek!

  2. Asslamalaikum sometimes my eye goes red from corner in the morning when I have applied kohl the night before is that concerning

  3. Salaam Brother, Thank you for your reseach, however you have stated in one of your posts that antimony is no longer used for Ithmid, and you also provided a link to the sohp ‘Health means wealth’ …I have purchased from them before and they confirm they sell lead free antimony….so now I am confused. Also, I have checked to see what Galena is and it is stated that Galena constitutes the principal ore of lead and therefore is the most common mineral containing lead. It also contains impurities, such as silver, arsenic, and copper….furthermore, due to its health risk, lead is no longer used in plumbing or paints, but has many applications such as batteries, or as a semi-conductor for radios and other electronic equipment. Lead vests are used in the medical industry as a protection from x-ray equipment………how is this safe to use in the eyes? I thought the whole point was to avoid lead? Is this what was used in the time of the Prophet (PBUH) because most texts state it is antimony (or stibnite). I just want to get to the bottom of this and blow away any confusion.

    Please be kind enough to address this. thankkyou

    1. Wa^alaikum Assalam,
      What is lead free antimony? You can ask them to show you a picture of the kohl stone they used to make the ithmid- and identify the mineral based on that. I don’t believe actual antimony was ever used to make ithmid, it’s a mistranslation according to what I know. Pure lead is not the same as lead sulfide. Not all forms of lead are the same. Lead sulfide has low bioavailability and low toxicity compared to other types of lead. And I personally choose the most pure-looking Galena stones for making the ithmid that I use on my own eye. I would just make sure not to eat it, and therefore I wouldn’t give it to children as they would be prone accidently eat it. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      1. Where do you go to look for these Galena stones to make your ithmid? I live in the States as well, so it would be great to know how to access them to eventually make my own.

        JazakAllahu khayr!

  4. As-salamu alaykum,

    Thank you for your research. I wanted to ask, is it safe to use ithmid kohl with contact lenses?
    I haven’t found any information on it anywhere so far.

    1. I would not use ithmid on the eye’s waterline with contact lenses, as I reason some of the particles may get trapped in-between. But on top of the eyelid and around the eyes should be ok.

  5. Salam Bro, If you apply it above and bellow your eye instead of on your waterline, will you still get benefits (strengthen eyesight and lengthened eyeslashed?

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