Origins of the Humble Kajal

A quick understanding of the origins of the Kajal or Kohl before we help you perfect the ‘look’….

The word Kajal was derived from the Hebrew word ‘kahal’ and the name Kohl was probably a derivative of Arabic word ‘kuhl’

An ancient eye cosmetic, Kajal or Kohl was traditionally made by grinding stibnite and mixed with water or milk or even animal fat to make it wasier to apply, it was believed to prevent eye infections. The use of kajal is prevalent from the ancient Egyptian civilization in 3100BC to this day across West Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Mostly used by women as makeup to highlight the eyes, religions such as Islam stipulates the use of kajal or ‘surmah’ as a ritual for keeping the eyes cool.

Master The Art of Kajal Makeup

In the olden days when the kajal was made from burning a lamp below a brass vessel and the soot scraped off and mixed with clarified butter, applying kajal was trickier than today. It had to be applied with a piece of stick or a special kajal applicator in ‘silver’ if you had the moolah. Today however kajal is available in applicator sticks or as powder to be applied with a brush for that smoky effect.

Several high end international cosmetics giants such as Mac, Chanel and Bobbi Brown as well as the mid-range companies such as L’Oreal and Maybelline have popularised the use of kajal through their “Kohl Eye Pencil” range.

Either way, the trick would be to figure out what really works for you. But for starters, let’s take you through the steps on how to apply kajal or kohl:

What You Will Need?

1.  Kajal Pencil
2.  Q tip or Eye Makeup Applicator Brush
3.  Compact powder
4.  Slightly moistened eyes

Style Tip 1: Basic Look

This is your go-to style for the daily morning rush to get ready for work. Quick lines along both eyelids and no frills. The thickness of these lines may vary depending on how you like it. But since this would be your usual day look, avoid very thick lines.

Style Tip 2: Only Lower Eyelid’ Kajal Look

Lower Eyelid’ Kajal Look

This is the slightly more stylised look with emphasis on the lower waterline mark of the lower eye lids.. so here is a step by step tutorial on exactly how to apply your kajal.

Step 1:

The quickest and fuss free eye make up would probably be with the kajal stick or the kohl pencil.

Start with applying one coat along your eye water-line or the edge of the lower eyelids and then on the upper waterline or the inner edge of the upper eyelids. If your eyes have a tendency to water, and some of our definitely do that ugly teary eyed thing, don’t worry, simply apply the kajal along the edge of the eyelids.

Step 2:

Go over the line on the lower lid to make it thicker. This makes your eyes look bigger, this is especially if you have hooded eyes or small to regular eyes, something like this..

Step 3:

Use a Q tip or eye make up applicator stick to smudge the lower line a little along the edges to give it the smooth blended look and stylized.

Take a little of your compact powder on your finger tip and apply below the kajal line to make sure that it does not smudge any more.

This is the perfect look when you are not really in a mood for make up and yet do not want to look like you’ve tumbled straight out of bed and out the door!

Style Tip 3: The ‘Upper EyeLid’ Look

Repeat the steps similar to STYLE TIP 2, except on the upper eye lids. Again, remember to apply a little compact to ensure that the kajal remains smudge free.

This is the perfect look for formal wear without being heavily made up.

Style Tip 4: The ‘Smokey Eyed’ Look

For that special night out, if you are looking at a fully made look you certainly cannot pass up on going for the smokey eyes with kajal.

The most dramatic and sexy of all evening looks, this style allows you to be messy in a controlled way. Apply a thicker line over your upper and lower eyelids. Smudge over with the applicator brush, just enough to create a smokey and not the raccoon look. With a sharp kajal pencil or kajal stick, make a clear V at the end of the eyelids, smudging inwards.

To highlight the smokey look a little more, you could apply eye shadow a shade lighter than your kajal gradiating to light over the upper lids. A lovely way to complement your big-eyes.

If you have brown or green eyes, you could use shimmering brown or smokey green eye shadow over your eye lids before you apply your kajal. Smudge the eye-shadow well upwards from dark to light. This will help highlight your eye colours better.

Style Tip 5: The ‘Doe Eyed’ Look

perfect-kajal-look with tradtional look

This was a look made fashionable from the 60s with the emphasis on highlighting a woman’s best features – her eyes. Creating a soft proportionate look, this style of applying kajal is brings the kajal boldly over the upper eyelids and halfway over the lower lids, creating a slightly upturned V at the ends.

Perfect fit for the traditional look with saris or salwar-suits and big-eyes!

Style Tip 6: The ‘Goth’ Look

So what is the goth look, really? It is all about appearances and how to highlight them. So for eye makeup, this look would translate to heavy thick dark black kajal, applied over both upper and lower eyelids. The ‘Dark’ look is achieved by applying the thick lines over dark eye shadow on the upper eyelids.

The outcome is bold and mysterious!

Style Tip 7: The ‘Winged’ Look

A classic retro look, this effect is achieved by applying the kajal on the upper lids longer extending beyond the lash line and tipped upwards to atleast halfway on the lids, like the wingtips of birds in flight. Thicken the kajal on the upper lids as you reach the corner. With a sharp kajal pencil, fill the outer corner inwards to get the sharp winged look. For better effect, extend the line a third of the way down the lower lids too. Highlight the eyes further with shimmering eye shadow in a lighter shade along the corners and thick mascara!!

Style Tip 8: The ‘Double Winged’ Look

Another stylish adaptation of the retro winged look, this stunning look is easily done once you have mastered the winged effect with your kajal pencil. Highlight the lower lash line similarly with wingtips that do not merge with the upper one but create a separate tip. With heavy dark eye shadow, this amazing effect if best done with heavy mascara to make those lashes steal the show.

Style Tip  9: The ‘Cat Eyed’ Look

If you love to play around with your look, try this the next time you want to set the tongues wagging! A variation of the double winged kajal look, this effect is achieved with a contrast coloured under eye kajal. So go ahead and try out the greens, blues, reds and whites that you have wondered how best to apply.

Style Tip 10: The ‘Lower Winged’ Look

If you love the unconventional look, go for this lower winged look. It is stylish enough to make your eyes pop and with the right eye shadow highlighting the upper eyelids, this look can go from a day look to a variation of the smokey eyed look for the evening.

Style Tip 11: The ‘Double Eyeliner’ Look

So how would you apply the double eyeline/ kajal ? This is an interesting way to highlight any particular colour from your outfit. Once you have done the Upper Eyelid look, go over the top with any coloured kajal pencil of your choice.

Style Tip 12: The ‘Arabic’ Look

Arabic’ Look

Have you wondered why it is said that the eyes of the woman hold the heavens ?? This mysterious thick, bold kajal look is probably what those poets had in mind. Go really heavy with your kajal on both the upper and lower lids and keep the winged tips thick too. Lots of heavy dark eye shadow to complete the look. Make sure you balance the heavy kajal with light shimmery eye shadow just below the eye brows, blended into the dark one. This is to prevent the look from turning into raccoon eyes. Do remember, this look is best for big eyes.

Also, wear your most mysterious attitude to go with the look!

How to Apply Smudge Free Kajal?

A couple of very simple tips to apply smudge free kajal –

  • Always work inwards starting from the outer corner. Short strokes are best for ensuring that your lines do not smudge since the kajal pencils are usually soft and creamy
  • Always remember to apply a little eye shadow over the kajal to hold it in place, so to speak. Do this with a Q tip or the applicator brush for best effects

Easy Tips for Removing Your Kajal

Now that we have talked about how to apply smudge free kajal… let’s figure out how to remove kajal.

Hopefully you remember to remove your kajal and otherwise all other make up at the end of the day… it takes just those few minutes more before bedtime but definitely ensures your skin is not damaged. While sometimes one may have the eye make up remover handy to dab onto cotton, there maybe times when it isn’t. No panic you will need either of the following:

  • The trusty Q tip
  • Cotton
  • Olive oil or even baby oil works brilliantly
  • Cleansing milk
  • Face wash

Moisten the Q tip or the cotton ball slightly with water and dab over your eyes for a few seconds. It helps to unbind the kajal from the skin. Once done, gently swipe along to remove all of it. Rinse off with water.

Why are we talking of olive oil or baby oil? Well, if you have noticed, your eye make up remover is predominantly oil based, so why not something similar without the other chemicals? Pour out a little into one hand and using the tips of your fingers dab a little oil on the eye lids and rub onto it with soft circular motions. This has a two fold result – it helps remove the kajal as well as ensures that delicate skin over the eyes are not stressed with entire action of applying and removing makeup.

I have often found cleansing milk has similar effects as these oils to remove the kajal. Use the cleansing milk just as you would the oils and you are good to go.

But what happens when you have used smudge proof kajal? Smudge proof in itself means it is waterproof kajal, right! The trick is to use a greasy alternative to water – a.k.a the humble Vaseline. Dab a little onto the eye lids and massage over your eyes, similar to when you used the oils. Once you are certain the kajal is fairly removed go over the actions again with lightly moistened cotton and finally wash off.

Then of course there are times when one is simply too tired or lazy to go through the entire ritual of removing the makeup. That is when I turn to my trusty face wash tube! Make sure you wash it all off and well.

Given that your eyes have the most sensitive skin of your entire body, it goes without saying that you have to be extra careful when caring for those peepers!!!

The Aishwarya Rai Kajal Eyes Decoded

For the average Indian girl/ woman, make up trends are set by the Bollywood heroines we love to emulate. Today there are so many of them to choose from, but right the first time Aishwarya walked into our hearts after the Miss World title in the early 90s, she has been a trendsetter for generations.

Aishwarya’s make up styles have been decoded all over the world and for good reason too! So for the die-hard eye make up addict you could try to channel a little bit of her look with those breathtaking eyes do remember you may not have the eye colour to match hers, but you could certainly try to apply your kajal like her!

So let us attempt to decode the Aishwarya Rai kajal eyes…

What do your eyes say about you? Find your own style and match your moods to the looks above. Make those lovely peepers the true windows to the world… especially made beautiful with the perfect Kajal eyes!

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