The Fascinating Truths Behind Kohl Usage in Ancient Egypt

By Ayten Talaat

I’ve always been fascinated by the way ancient Egyptian queens back in the day applied their makeup, especially the way they did their dramatic eye makeup. It’s very obvious that ancient Egyptians took pride in their appearance and kohl was one of the things they used to make sure they looked on fleek.

As early as 4000 B.C, kohl was worn traditionally by Egyptian queens and noble women and men alike as well. Back then, some women would actually apply kohl to their new-born babies’ eyes. But have you ever thought about the actual reasons behind this excessive kohl usage? Was it just to enhance their looks? Surely not.

It seems that ancient Egyptians took the “evil eye” thing way too seriously. Apart from the famous superstitions we all know about such as turquoise blue stones, the Eye of Horus, etc., it was believed that eyes without makeup were vulnerable to the evil eye. And as a result of this, both genders used to wear kohl on their upper and lower eyelids to ward off evil spirits and protect their souls.

It’s not only for that reason either, since ancient Egyptians used to suffer from many health issues such as eye infections because of desert dust, Nile bacteria, and insects. They included natural ingredients in making kohl to cure these eye infections and improve their eyesight.

In addition to this, zinc oxide, which is a powerful natural sunblock, was also added along with other kohl ingredients to protect their eyes from intense sun rays.

Through Egypt’s influence, kohl usage kept growing till it reached the Babylonian, Greek, and Roman cultures. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it spread to the rest of the European continent, where it had been misused and considered solely as a cosmetic.

With info from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohl_(cosmetics)

https://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Mascara.html

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8972680_Composition_of_eye_cosmetics_kohl_used_in_Cairo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mascara#cite_note-25

http://www.cultureschlockonline.com/Articles_p/mascara_p.html

https://recipes.hypotheses.org/12837

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