Babies are innocent and possess a great degree of charm, that it is impossible to resist them. So, it is mind-boggling to see how many mothers try hard to make their babies 'more' beautiful using cosmetics such as surma and kajal.

We have to ask ourselves, is this necessary? Let us analyse the popular cosmetic.

The popular belief

Kohl (also known as Kajal or Surma) has been around for a long time. Apparently, it was applied by women since the Proto-dynastic Period of Egypt (and this would be some 5000 years ago, approximately 3100 BC). People of that era believed that the cosmetic would prevent eye ailments as well as the formation of dark circles around the eye.

While Egyptians used the substance in the hope of keeping eye-ailments at bay, in the Indian subcontinent, ‘kajal’ has had a more pressing role - to help ward off evil spirits. That would be another, or rather, the main reason for mothers to lavish the cosmetic on their babies.

Fresh and pure at all times

On the one hand, Ayurveda physicians believe – as the ancient Egyptians did - that regular application of kajal on the baby's eyes helps enhance her vision and prevents eye ailments like conjunctivitis. They recommend “natural” kajal prepared using herbal pastes and natural oils, in the following manner:

Experts have suggested the following “natural” kajal preparation for the benefit of your baby:

  1. Dip a clean, thin, white muslin cloth in a paste of sandalwood or juice from the bark of the white cheesewood tree. The cloth should be approximately four inches each in length and breadth.
  2. Dry the cloth under a shade.
  3. Make a wick out of the cloth and use it to light a mud-lamp filled with castor oil.
  4. Place a brass vessel over the lamp in a manner that allows the oxygen to aid the burning of the lamp. This process should continue late into the night.
  5. In the morning, pour about two drops of ghee (clarified butter) to the soot present on the brass vessel, and store the resultant mixture in a clean and dry box. It is this mixture that is used as cosmetic.

It is important to ensure that one uses the Kajal that is being used is fresh.

Are there any side-effects?

These days, only a few resort to the traditional method of preparing Kajal. Most mothers buy Kajal from the nearest store. Now, recent research has shown that commercially produced kajal consists of galena (PbS or lead sulphide), lead oxide (Pb3O4), amorphous carbon (also known as soot), magnetite (Fe3O4 or iron oxide) and zincite (ZnO or zinc oxide). As a result, frequent application of the cosmetic can cause a lot of harm to the baby. The use of such products could eventually affect the brain and bone marrow (a soft, spongy and gelatinous tissue found in the hollow spaces inside the bone).

The application, if not performed in a hygenic manner, can be harmful as well. For instance, dirty fingers, or sharp, uneven nails could come in the contact with the baby's eyes and could hurt the sensitive eyes of the baby. Moreover, the use of the product could also cause allergies and result in itchiness in the eyes.

Given all this, isn’t it better to let your baby’s charm the world around her in a most natural way? She is as perfect as she can be!