kohl is the generic name for a variety of cosmetics used around the eyes and in other parts of the face. It was a popular cosmetic of both men and women during ancient times, especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Kohl has a very dark, powdery consistency and is composed of a mixture of minerals, including antimony (Sb) and lead-based compounds. Various kinds of lead-based kohl were used in ancient Egypt, including galena (PbS), laurionite (PbCl(OH)2) and phosgenite (PbCl(OH)2CO3). Green kohl may have contained malachite, an oxide of copper (CuO). Lead-contaminated kohl can lead to high levels of lead in the blood, which can cause a number of problems including anemia, retardation of growth and development, low IQ, convulsions and death.
The Prophet (Sly llh lyh wslm) himself was a regular user of Ithmid (antimony) kohl and he used to apply it three times a day over his eyes. The hadith relates that this kohl makes the eyelashes longer and also helps to make the eyes themselves look more clear, white and beautiful. This is likely due to the fact that it increases the elasticity of the eye muscles, so the eyes can open wider and more easily.
Several studies have shown that non-Ithmid kohls contain toxic levels of heavy metals. In one kohl product, the concentration of cadmium, which is related to toxic keratitis, was more than four times greater than permitted by European Union limits. The concentration of lead was found to be similar in some of the kohls tested. Microbial contamination was also observed in a number of the samples, which were identified by spread plate methods and based on their morphological characteristics. Bacterial contamination was found in 45% of the samples, and fungal contamination in 15%. antimony kohl