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How to identify pure Ithmid kohl/surma/kajal?

Pure black ithmid kohl

With so many fake kohl powders being sold as a pure Ithmid Kohl, it’s very easy to fall a victim to this unscrupulous trade and buy a kohl product on the assumption that it is real and pure ithmid kohl when in reality it is not not only not what you think but potentially toxic and harmful.

In fact, the vast majority (over 90%) of the kohl powders on the market which their sellers claim to be 100% lead free and pure are anything but. A lot of these sellers are themselves unaware of what is in these products but they advertise it as pure and lead free nonetheless just to make sales without asking themselves if their claims are true or not.

However if they did a little bit of homework to ensure that what they are selling is actually pure Ithmid and lead free, many of them would have discontinued selling them.

So what homework can one do to investigate that the product they are buying is genuinely pure Ithmid kohl?

Check it’s not on the black list

The easiest and first thing you can do is to check if the product is not one already reported to be lead laden and potentially toxic by reliable sources.

The biggest brands or makes in the kohl market actually have been discredited by lab tests conducted by the Saudi Food and Drugs Agency. Ecowaste coalition and New South Wales government in Australia also discredited a major kohl brand as being potentially toxic.

Check the list of these brands and images of their widely available kohl products here as a first step of knowing whether your potential purchase (or already bought product) is actually pure kohl. If it’s there, then you just have saved yourself a lot of further checking as well as saving your money and health.

Can the stone be traced and provided if needed

Another indirect way of knowing whether the product is pure Ithmid kohl is to check with the seller if they are able to trace where the kohl came from and can provide you with a stone of the same type if needed.

Ithmid kohl like any other product is passed down a chain of producers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers before reaches you. But any seller who knows their trade well will be able to trace back when the Ithmid stone was crushed into a powder. They will know which of their suppliers did this and they can verify with them that nothing was added and the end product was completely pure Ithmid powder.

Sellers who just bought a nicely packaged black substance advertised as pure Ithmid kohl from a random wholesaler will not be able to do any of these requirements. They have no history of the product, where it came from and how it is made except that which is written by the package or told to them by whoever they bought it off from (who in turn relies on the packaging info or what someone else said to them)

At we are 100% sure about the purity of our Ithmid kohl powder which is crushed into a stone using an electrical grinder. We know and can trace back the whole journey of our ithmid powders. The stones from which are our pure ithmid kohl powders are made from are available on request.

Does it look like and feel like a crushed stone

Pure ithmid kohl is obtained by crushing ithmid stone into a powder without adding any other ingredients. Imagine yourself doing this for a minute ? What image comes to your mind of the of kind of powder would you end up ? Something dusty with a slightly different shades of color ? Or something that is jet black and glossy without any traces of dust or variation in its color ?

Hopefully, you have picked the first option which is what represents a truly pure ithmid kohl. When you see and feel a pure ithmid kohl you will know feel confident to say that it must have come from a stone. A good pure ithmid kohl powder has this little shiny silverish grains in it (which look white flecks in the photo) and it is colour is more of a dark grey than that of black.

Also pure ithmid kohl has this soft texture to it that it easily compacts on itself under pressure and forms lumps in a similar way to a wet sand.

Pure black Hijazi ithmid kohl powder
Pure black Hjazi ithmid kohl powder : Notice the whitish spots ( Exagerated in this photo by the camera- in reality it is more subtle and is ony a hint of silver). Also notice the texture and how soft it looks. Also the colour is not jet black.

Does the seller sound knowledgeable

This is an indirect way of ascertaining whether what you are about to buy is actually pure and genuine ithmid kohl. Being knowledgeable about the topic of ithmid kohl is a distinguishing sign that marks good sellers who have done their research and homework and know what they are talking about from the others who due to their lack of expertise and knowledge on the topic do not know much about the products they are selling beyond what is written on the packaging and may be the hadiths on the benefits of ithmid kohl.

Some of the questions that you can ask the seller include :

Where does ithmid kohl come from ? Is pure ithmid kohl only a certain color ( for example black ) ? What other colours does pure ithmid kohl come from ? How many varieties of ithmid kohl exist ? What is the difference between them ? How is ithmid kohl made ? How to apply it ?

Sellers selling genuinely pure and authentic ithmid kohl will most definitely give you convincing answers on these questions as they themselves had gone through the same situation you are in when sourcing their products and through research and personal experience found out the answers.

Hope you found this article useful and it gave you a very important tips that you can use to steer away from fake ithmid kohl products and identify pure ithmid kohl.

If you have any questions or comments please leave a comment under the post ( I will reply to you insha`Allah) or get in touch by email at :

20 thoughts on “How to identify pure Ithmid kohl/surma/kajal?

  1. السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
    when i buy the hijazi kohl from madinah, will i also get an application stick? i ask this because all your camel bone sticks are sold out and there’s nothing on the page indicating that i get an application stick. if not, do you know any other ways to apply it and how? also i think i may have asked this on another blog entry but is kohl applied directly in the eyes or on the eyelids or how?

    1. وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله ؤبركاته

      The camel bone has ran out. But alhamdulilah , a new stock of wooden applicator has arrived and it is up for sale on the website at :

  2. Peace be upon you,
    I’ve placed an order for some ithmid, I would just like some confirmation that you’ve received the order.

  3. Do u deliver to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? How long does delivery take to each? What are the shipping fees?

  4. I am in India, Maharashtra State. Required ismidh as described by you the original one.

    I use to have from Saudi as I have staying there. But when I cane back to India, I am not able to collect the original Ismidh.

    Pkease contact ne with the product price and shipping charges with other T&C


  5. AOA this article is the best of the other posts I like it bcz you wrote it in very detaild.thumbs up and keep it up and my prey you make use ful for others and your’s to amern.

  6. hi my name is sammani muhammed am a kohl dealer in nigeria i need supplyer from any country

  7. and this is my gmail adress and contact is +23408061937058

  8. Hi,

    I would like to buy ithmid khol from your company but I have some questions. How do you make sure of ithmid quality, especially purity (lead free and that it is the good ithmid for eye, not harmfull)? Do you run lab tests? If not, how to make sure it is lead free?

    Thank you

    1. Salams I plan to make my own isthmus kohl line for myself n family. Can u advise how I can buy pure lead free ithmid powder, from whom and costs please- nisa Mohd

    2. Have you got tee reply.

  9. Hello!

    I want to place my orders now: Genuine Hijazi Black Kohl(10g) and the wooden applicator.

    I stay in Aberdeen, Scotland, Uk.

    Please when will the products get to me?


    Thank you.

  10. Assalamua’alaikum, which applicator is best? Brass, silver, or wooden?

    1. Gold followed by silver are the best 9but unfortunately not available on market anymore)
      Brass would be next as it it is easier to clean and contains some copper which is thought to be beneficial
      Then the wooden ones with some better than others (based on type of wood)

  11. Hello! I have the al-Asmad eyeliner but I can’t find whether or not it has lead in it. Would you know? Here is a link to the one that I have:

    Thank you!

  12. Assalamualikum

    I am Abdullah from Pakistan

    My first question is do U sell your Al-Asmad surma in Pakistan?

    Second, how to check lead is not present in Al-Asmad surma because lead doesn’t attract magnetic 🧲 field?

    I go through the video in your article but the question here is
    lead doesn’t show magnetic induction.

  13. Hello,

    I am a geologist currently doing research for an upcoming book on the history of culturally important stones. One of the chapters of the book will be about the geological history and cultural use of minerals used to make kohl/surma/kajal/ithmid/asmad.

    According to my research, the earliest cosmetic of this type, used as early as pre-dynastic Ancient Egypt, was originally made from the mineral Stibnite (antimony [tri]sulfide). However, due to the rarity of naturally occurring stibnite deposits, which made the kohl derived from it very expensive, as usage of the cosmetic became ever more widespread, eventually the mineral Galena (lead sulfide) was substituted for it, due to its much wider occurrence, general abundance, and ultimately its lower price, as well as the fact that it looks very similar to Stibnite in terms of color, luster, and streak—and particularly similar in crushed and ground form.

    To this day, the vast majority of kohls/etc sold in the marketplace across the entire kohl-using world (North Africa, Middle East, South Asia) are largely composed of Galena, largely for the same reasons the ancients switched from Stibnite to Galena—a lower cost of doing business without sacrificing the appearance of the cosmetic for the customer.

    The word “kohl” comes from the Arabic, which itself comes from an older Akkadian word 𒎎𒋆𒁉𒍣𒁕, “guẖlu(m)”, meaning “stibnite” (a mineral composed of antimony [tri]sulfide). The Akkadian term itself comes from the Greek—στίβι/στίμμι (stibi/stimmi)—and Latin—stibium—words for Stibnite, which they were translating from the original Ancient Egyptian word for the same, s-d-m, even though already by the time of the Greeks and Romans, the main ingredient had been changed from Stibnite to Galena. Therefore, there is still some misunderstanding about the mineral composition of kohl from those who rely only on the etymology of the word.

    In fact, X-ray diffraction and mass spectrometry (scientific methods used to determine the composition of a substance) show that the vast majority of kohls in the marketplace today, as well as many kohls recovered from antiquity by archaeologists, are predominantly composed of Galena (a cubic crystalline form of lead sulfide), and not Stibnite (an orthorhombic crystalline form of antimony [tri]sulfide). An important point on this matter is that this store also describes its products as being made from Galena (at least the black/dark grey ithmid powders, see here: All Galena is again composed of lead sulfide, arranged in a cubic crystalline lattice—there are no exceptions, this is the definition of the mineral. There may be more or fewer of various impurities in the mineral, other sulfides, etc, but by and large, this is mostly lead sulfide, and customers should be aware of the health risks associated with it. I see have seen (unanswered) comments from customers asking if these products are lead-free—no, they most certainly are not, and lead poisoning is a possibility with extensive, long term use.

    I have compiled a bibliography on the history and modern usage of kohl/surma/kajal/ithmid/asmad, as well as its chemical composition (scientifically determined) and health information, which I would like to share here:

    1. So what is actual ithmid
      I did message the seller he said it’s antimony not galena
      I am also so confused nos

      1. I know right I am so confused too
        The seller said it’s anitmony and then some say actual kohl is Galena
        So what actually is it???

  14. I want to have pure ithmid alcohol. What’s the price and how can you deliver in Pakistan?

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