The Indian subcontinent has a very unique beauty standard. Though diverse within her borders, they all confine together to enhance the features of brown women. Pashmina from Kashmir to counter the cold may be different from the coconut oil-drenched hairs in the heat of Kerala. But a vermilion bindi from the north serves the same purpose as the vibuthi from the south. The Indian women are gifted with the Solah sringar, sixteen ornaments that enhance a women’s beauty and bring prosperity to the household. Not only in terms of makeup but each element has its own health benefits. And one of them is kajal or Nayan anjan (collyrium in the eyes).
Having a history of more than 5,000 years, kajal is an adornment worn by babies and old women alike. It is a black dye obtained from the soot of the lamp-lit by ghee, which is mixed with butter or oil and applied to the eyes. It gives a sharp and mysterious look to one’s eyes and has numerous health benefits, if organic. Kajal of course is commercialized and the lead used in the chemical ones can be pretty harmful to the eyes. Which completely contradicts its purpose.
Nevertheless, an organic kajal has many health benefits and equally different methods of preparation. Let us learn about one such method, which involves a key ingredient, i.e., Honagane or sessile joyweed ( Alternanthera sessilis ).
This is a perennial plant that grows in moist shady places. It has many medicinal uses and also is used as food, and is locally said to be very good to the eyes. And thus, also known as Kaadige soppu ( Kajal or eyeliner leaf ). Now that we’ve found the key ingredient, let us prepare some homemade kajal.
- Honagane soppu ( Alternanthera sessilis )
- Ghee or clarified butter
- Copper plate
- Cotton threads or a muslin cloth
- Three 2 inches tall glasses
- Grind the Honagane leaves into a fine paste with a motor and pastel.
- Squeeze out its juices.
- Dip the cotton threads or the muslin cloth in the juice and let it dry.
- Light the lamp with ghee and the dried cotton thread. ( Any other choice of oil can also be used like castor oil)
- Place a copper plate on the lighting flame with the help of the three glasses, placed inverted around the lamp.
- The plate is placed directly on the flame and all the soot is collected on the bronze plate.
- Let is burn into exhaustion and it might take upto 40-45 minutes.
- Invert the copper plate and scrape the soot collected. ( Careful, because it will be burning hot)
- Mix the black soot with ghee or butter. I prefer ghee personally, because it gives the kajal fragrance.
- Your homemade plant-based kajal is ready.
- Store in a moisture proof container.
- Conduct this method in a well ventilated area and away from inflammable substances. The room can get pretty smoky.
- Adult supervision is required.
- The inverted bronze plate will get very hot and will require a cloth or a muffler to handle it.
- The oil from the lamp can spill out, thus make sure that your worktop has a plate or a base of some kind.
- I’d say that I was completely shocked by the results. As soon as I applied it, one thing I noticed was that there was no irritation to the eyes. None at all, unlike the commercial ones.
- But my eyes did get a little foggy and teary. You can clearly see how it cleanses the eyes. My eyes got a little wattery and, ofcourse, the dirt was all washed up.
- The soot has no taste or fragrance of its own. Yes, I tasted it. But adding the ghee gives it a nutty fragrance.
- The kajal has a beautiful creamy texture and the dark colour can stain your hands. You can simply rub the excess kajal onto your hair.
- The kajal can be removed by wet wipes. But do remember that this kajal is not smudge proof. It can sure make you look like Nagawalli by the end of your day.
Health benefits of organic kajal
- The use of organic kajal moisturises the eyes and keeps them hydrated. It avoids impurities from getting into the eyes and strenghthens the eye muscles. Natural kajal has astringent properties which prevents reddening of the eyes.
- Depending on the use of oils like castor oils, rich in vit E can be very good for the eyes. It relieves stress and helps the eye lashes grow thicker and blacker.
- The kajal has antibacterial properties due to the use of the copper plate. Copper is a purifier and also has healing properties. It prevents infection and also helps in relaxing the lens and eyes muscle. Thus, improving the eyesight.
- Ghee reduces dark circles by relaxing them and cleanses the eye from salt deposites from tears and removes makeup residues.
- The butter is an excellent hydrating agent which cools the eyes.
Health benifits of Honagane or Alternanthera sessilis
- Traditionally it is really good for the eyesight, thus sabzi is also prepared from the very same.
- For hair problems ( like hairfall, dandruff, splitends, white hairs and less volume): Gring the joyweed leaves with 5 leaves of hibiscus ( the cream coloured flower species is the best) and apply the paste on the scalp and along the lengths of the hair. Use it 2-3 times a week and see the results in a couple of months. The volume of the hair also tends to increase.
- For skin problems ( like dark spots and cracking of feet and hands): Make a paste out of coconut milk and the joyweed leaves. Apply this on the affected area. It improves the glow of the skin and moisturises it.