Home made kajal (kanmashi) for mothers

Dark black Kajal / Kohl (‘Kanmashi’ in Malayalam) applied eyes have always added to the mystical beauty of Indian women from time immemorial. Most of us even today feel our makeup is incomplete without a dash of Kohl in our eyes. This tradition would have started when our ancestors sensed the need to keep our eyes cool in a hot, humid, tropical country like India. As kajal is prepared using medicinal herbs and is blended together using an oil for cooling effect, applying this regularly will show results both in the form of enhanced eye health, and thicker, longer eyelashes. Now, preparing your own Kohl in the comfort of your home is no rocket science; all you need is patience and a little bit of time.

It is best to make the kajal in small quantities as it tends to get spoiled after three to six months, as we are not adding any preservative to this. The amount mentioned here would be sufficient for your daily application for about six months.


  • Tulsi (holy basil) leaves – 15 – 20 numbers
  • Jungle Geranium flowers (‘Chethi poovu’ in Malayalam; scientific name is ‘Ixora coccinea’) – 15 – 20 numbers
  • A piece of pure cotton cloth, approximately 6 cm wide and 10 cm long
  • A diya (lamp) ‘vilakku’ in Malayalam
  • Castor oil (‘avanakkenna’ in Malayalam) – approximately 100 ml

Method of preparation

  1. Wash the cloth piece using only pure water to remove any residual detergent and other impurities present. Dry in sunlight.
  2. Crush both tulsi leaves and the Jungle Geranium flowers using your hands and extract their juice.
  3. Soak the now dry cloth piece in this juice and dry in shade.
  4. Once the cloth is dry, roll it up tightly between the palms of your both hands into a wick (‘thiri’ in Malayalam)
  5. Pour castor oil into the lamp (‘vilakku’ in Malayalam)
  6. Immerse the cloth wick in castor oil to ensure that it is wholly soaked in oil.
  7. Squeeze one end of the wick to drain oil from that part, and keep that portion above the oil level in the lamp. This is to ensure that it can be easily lit by fire.
  8. Light the lamp. Keep the lamp in a place where there is no air disturbance (for example, from a fan or from an open window) The flame of the lamp should be big and bright.
  9. Partially cover the flame with a brass vessel (‘ottu uruli’ in Malayalam) so that the smoke escaping towards the ceiling is caught in the vessel. Make sure there is enough space for air to come in and help burn the lamp. You should never cover the lamp completely.
  10. As the wick gets burned out, keep moving it above the oil level so that it can burn without hindrance.
  11. Once it gets completely burned out and the flame is exhausted, let the collector brass vessel cool down to room temperature.
  12. Now if you look at the inside of the brass vessel, you will see a coating of soot there. Scrap this off with a metal spoon / blunt knife. Make sure that all the vessels you use in the process are thoroughly washed and free of any left over spices from curries cooked in them.
  13. Collect the soot in a container and slowly add castor oil till you get the desired consistency for your kajal. Add the oil only drop by drop to prevent excessive addition. Loosely blended Kohl will not stay long in the eyes; it will get smudged easily and spread all over the face. If you add too little oil, the kajal will be very dry and difficult to apply.

This kajal will stay good for upto six months. If you feel any irritation while applying it to your eyes, it means it is time to prepare a new batch!

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