Why some children in India have black make up on their eyes?

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On the cover you can see the picture that I clicked in 2016. Later I asked my husband (who is Indian) why the boy on the picture has black make up on his eyes? My husband told me: “Some moms can be crazy.”

I googled about it. It turned out that the tradition of putting black make up on children’s eyes is common not only in India, but also in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Parents believe that it can protect the child from the evil eye, eye infections, and can improve the child’s vision…

I must say that the Indians themselves are more asking in Internet about this matter than they are answering – far not everyone knows the meaning of it already. But there are the articles in Internet telling that this is an old tradition, that in the past people used to do it with a home-made substance called “kohl”. Kokhl is known as ancient eye cosmetics also in Greece, Egypt and many Arab countries. It was made by grinding a mineral called antimonite/ stibnite, but the composition and the method of preparing could vary in different countries. In India, kohl could be applied to the eyes of children even soon after their birth.

However, there are many conflicting opinions about the benefits and the harm of kohl. Some studies show kohl’s great benefits for the eyes, including their protection from the sun, and the lack of the need to wash off such makeup before sleeping. Other studies, however, call it dangerous and warn that regular usage of kohl can cause lead poisoning, cataracts, anemia and increased blood pressure. More about kohl you can read Here.

Nowadays, of course, people in India more often apply modern eyeliner or black pencil rather than homemade cosmetics as eye make-up, for children as well. Modern eye makeup is mostly nothing similar to traditional kohl, but some brands still add kohl to their composition. Kohl is not included in the list of banned substances in the world, but the import of Indian eye make up products based on kohl to the USA is illegal, for example.

In Delhi, this tradition now is almost not followed – you will barely see children or infants with black make up here. Also, there is many warning articles about the danger of kohl, especially for children, on the “Indian Internet”. However, to say that this tradition is not followed already anywhere in India – is hardly possible…


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1 thought on “Why some children in India have black make up on their eyes?”

  1. Kohl is made by mixing castroil,some flowers and then heated. Yes it is good for eyes. But we must know correct proportion of ingredients.elders at home know how to make it but most of us buy it these days outside. Can’t say about quality . Homemade is always best or buy branded one.

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