Is it safe to apply kajal to baby's eyes?
Created by Swati Nitin Gupta Updated on Sep 23, 2021
Using kajal or surma in your baby's eyes to make his or her eyes appear bigger and beautiful is one of the practices that are quite popular in Indian homes. From up north to down south, as soon as the baby is born, elders in the family insist that when a kajal is put in the baby's eyes his or her eyes not only become beautiful they become sharper as well. However, if you go by doctors, the advice they give is to completely avoid it. So let's see is using kajal for your baby's eyes safe or not? But before we learn whether or not kajal is safe or not let's see what is kajal or surma?
What Is Kajal?
Kajal is nothing but a burnt residue of any oil burnt. While it is considered that homemade kajal is safe for babies, it is debatable issue because the residue left after burning the oil is high in carbon and carbon is also not safe for sensitive eyes of a baby.
Is Kajal Or Surma Safe For Infants?
No, simply put kajal or surma is not safe for infants. Why? Because kajal contains lead – a metal that can be harmful for your baby resulting in irritation in his or her eyes and host of other infections like redness, styes in the eyes and prolonged usage of kajal may also affect the vision as well. While there is a debate on homemade kajal being safe for infants let us tell you that, no even homemade kajal, which is prepared with utmost care, is also not safe for your baby. Why, you may ask again? Simply because homemade kajal contains carbon, which is not a good product for your baby's sensitive eyes. Whether it is an Ayurvedic kajal or badam kajal for your baby's sensitive eyes no kajal is good for your baby, so avoid applying it in the eyes. You can use homemade kajal to apply on the forehead or behind the ear.
Why Do We Apply Kajal To Baby's Eyes?
While there are no scientific reasons or proof to validate any of the reasons behind applying kajal or surma to the baby's eyes, here are some of the common reasons, your elders may specially emphasise on and some of them can be really hilarious and just a myth.
- Brighter and bigger eyes: Ah! This is the most common reason for applying kajal to baby's eyes and it is common both in North and South India. The elders in the family insist on applying kajal to baby's eyes because kajal makes the eyes appear large and bright. It is a myth and no, just by applying kajal your baby's eyes will not appear bright or large for that matter
- Make the eyes grow longer: Outrageous as it may sound, it is one of the reasons, why elders in the family insist on applying kajal in the eyes and not anywhere else. According to them, if you apply kajal regularly to your baby's eyes his or her eyes will grow bigger in size and beautiful
- Soothing eyes: Well, if you listen to your doctor this is the exact reason why your paediatrician stopped you from applying kajal to your baby's eyes. Kajal doesn't soothe your baby's eyes but instead it leads to watery and itchy eyes. In fact prolonged use of kajal may affect his or her vision as well. Don't believe us? Ask your paediatrician and if he/she will tell you
- Keep away the evil eye or buri nazar: It is believed (and trust us it is just a superstitious belief and nothing else) that when you apply kajal in your baby's eyes, you are protecting him or her from the buri nazar or an evil eye. Ask your elders – how? And they won't have any answer to that, why, because there is no logical answer to it
- Sleep longer: The baby with kajal in his or her eyes will sleep longer. Seriously, mommies, if your baby has to sleep for just 30 minutes, he or she will do so regardless of kajal in his or her eyes. So avoid applying kajal in his or her eyes just to make him or her sleep longer
Can Kajal Be Harmful For Babies?
Yes, kajal whether homemade or store bought is not good for baby or baby's eyes; in fact it is harmful to put kajal in your baby's eyes. While there is a risk of lead poisoning with a prolonged use of kajal, the untrimmed finger nails, dirty finger tips may hurt your baby's sensitive eyes and cause infection as well.
If it is that important to apply kajal to your baby then you can apply it as a dot on his or her forehead, behind the ear or on the sole of his or her feet. It will too ward off the evil eye, if it does ward off buri nazar.
Is Store Bought Kajal Safe For Babies?
No, the store bought kajal is neither safe nor good for your baby. One of the main reasons is lead – a metal that is not good or safe for babies. Even though it may seem to claim that the kajal is organic and free from lead and other chemicals. It is advisable to put kajal in your baby's sensitive eyes. If you really want you can apply kajal on his or her forehead or behind the ear or even on the sole of foot.
Here are few reasons why you should not use store bought kajal on your baby.
- High levels of lead: The levels of lead in the store bought kajal are quite high and while there may be tall claims about being lead free or natural, there is no way to find out that their claims are true – so why take the risk. Also, most of the time, the packaging and safety norms are not followed properly resulting in a contamination of the product
- Lead storage in body: Lead is something that gets easily absorbed in your infant's system and thus interfering with the normal brain development, other organs in your baby and even bone marrow formation gets affected with prolonged exposure to the lead. Excessive lead storage in a baby's body can make him or her susceptible to lead poisoning which in turn leads to anaemia, and interference with normal development of brain in children
- Infections and irritations: You know that baby's eyes are quite sensitive so why to expose it to infections and irritations by applying carbon-based paste (kajal or surma) in his or her eyes. Your baby's eyes are quite sensitive to dirt and irritation; hence it is advised to avoid applying kajal to your baby's eyes. In fact, according to the experts, prolonged exposure to the kajal in the baby's eyes may affect his or her vision as well. So it is better to avoid applying kajal in your baby's eyes
Homemade Kajal For Babies
Yes, you can make kajal at home and in fact during Diwali our grand moms used to make it, and here's a traditional recipe of making kajal at home with mustard oil and earthen lamp.
Ingredients For Homemade Kajal
- 4X4 White Muslin cloth
- Sandalwood paste
- Mustard oil
- Earthen lamp
- Brass plate
- Clean box with a lid
Method For Preparing Homemade Kajal
- Soak the 4X4 white muslin cloth in the sandalwood paste
- Once soaked properly, take it out and put it to dry in shade. Do this 2 -3 times through the day till the entire cloth is soaked properly in sandalwood paste
- Once the cloth is dried by the evening, you can cut the cloth and then create a wick or jyot out of it
- Put it in the earthen lamp filled with mustard oil
- Now take the brass plate and apply a coat or two of garlic juice on it
- Cover the earthen lamp with this brass plate leaving some space for air to pass so that the lamp can burn through the night without extinguishing
- Next day when you remove the brass plate from the lamp you will see black soot on the inside of the brass plate this is your kajal. You can use a spoon to clean the plate and collect kajal in a clean dibbi
- To this residue you may either add 2 - 3 drops of either desi ghee
- Your homemade kajal is ready but remember even this is not safe for application on the baby's eyes
We hope that post reading this blog, you will think twice before applying kajal on your baby's eyes. While there are instances where the mothers don't want to apply kajal on their baby's eyes, it is the elders in the family who insist on the application. Do you have any similar experiences? Please share your views, feedback and incidents with us in the comments section below, as we would love to hear from you.
| Sep 10, 2017
hello Swati Nitin Gupta . this very detailed and informative blog. Thanks for sharing. I noticed that one sentence needs modification. pls check introduction of following topic and notice the correction "Is Store Bought Kajal Safe For Babies?". 'NOT'is missing in one sentence.
| Sep 13, 2017
Whole post talks about the ill effects of applying kajal on baby's eyes , still you have given detailed description of making kajal at home ? Hopefully that is just to apply on forehead and back of year for ' buri najar bachao' types. Also, there seems to be typo in blog where you wrote ' it is advisable to apply home mad kajal' i think it should be NOT