Kajal for Babies: Is it Safe for Baby’s Eyes?

Are you concerned if kajal is safe for babies? Can you apply it your newborn’s eyes? In many regions of India, applying kajal to a baby’s eyes and brows is a traditional practice that has been practiced for generations. This practice is still followed with devotion throughout India’s villages, cities, and even metros, but the question is whether it is safe to do so?

In this post we will cover What is Kajal? Why is it Applied? What are the Side effects and Alternatives to applying kajal.

Doctors do not recommend applying kajal to babies at all. It is not safe for them. I know how difficult this decision might be for a first-time mother. On the one hand, your parents and other elders in your family may advise you to apply kajal, while your doctor and the internet may advise you against it.

What is Kajal?

Kajal is nothing but a burnt residue of any oil or ghee that has been burned. Kajal is also known as Kohl and Surma. It is usually applied to the baby’s lower waterline, upper lids as well as brows.

kajal for babies

Many people make their own kajal by burning ghee, oil, or almond at home. The residue is collected in a container over a flame, then mixed with ghee or almond oil, and then used as kajal. This residue is simply a type of carbon that is used as a baby’s kajal.

Why People Apply Kajal to Babies?

Below are some of the reasons given by elders for applying kajal to baby’s eyes.

Kajal Makes Eyes Bigger and Beautiful: It is believed that applying kajal makes your eyes bigger and more beautiful. It is true that when we apply kajal to eyes, eyes appear bigger because the pupil is dilated. But when the pupil is constantly dilated it starts blocking the angles on the side which can lead to a condition called Glaucoma which may hamper the vision.

Kajal Helps to Improve Vision: It is believed that applying kajal improves a baby’s eyesight. Babies who wear kajal do not need glasses in the future. Guess what? I wear glasses and my mother had applied kajal on my eyes.

Kajal Helps to Soothe Eyes: It is believed kajal helps to soothe eyes and keep them cool as it contains castor or almond oil. In contrast, it may lead to watery and itchy eyes.

Kajal Helps to Remove Dust and Impurities: It is believed that tears as a result of kajal application help to remove the dust and impurities from the eyes.

Kajal Wards off Evil Eye: It is believed that kajal wards off evil and protect the baby from evil eyes.

These are all myths. There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the reasons.

Should You be Applying Kajal to Babies?

The simple answer is No. Applying Kajal to baby’s eyes may do more harm to their eyes than good. Below are the reasons why you should not apply Kajal to babies.

Kajal Contains Lead

For starters, most of the kajals bought from the market contain a high level of lead. And this lead can be absorbed by the baby when taking a bath. It is proven that lead is toxic. It can damage the kidneys, brain, bone marrow, other organs. According to some experts, lead poisoning can cause anemia, a low IQ, and seizures.

Even if some companies claim to be lead-free or all-natural, it’s difficult to know for sure, and they could be just as dangerous. Excessive lead buildup in the body may develop from prolonged use.

Kajal Causes Itchy and Watery Eyes

Kajal can lead to itching, watery eyes, and other allergies in your baby.

Process of Applying Kajal is Unsafe

Generally, kajal is applied using fingertips. When applying kajal to a baby’s eyes, if your hands are not washed properly, it can transmit infections to little one’s eyes. Because babies are irritated at times, you can accidentally hurt your baby’s eyes with your nails or fingers while rubbing the kajal on.

Process of Removing Kajal is Unsafe

When removing kajal from baby’s eyes, if it enters the baby’s eyes and nose it can lead to infections. When kajal or Surma is removed from the eyes during a bath, it passes through the nasolacrimal duct, a small opening between the eyes and the nose. This is a very small hole, and the thin tube that follows it is much smaller. Kajal can obstruct it, resulting in partial or total occlusion and, eventually, causing serious infections.

Can I use Home-made Kajal instead of Store-Bought ?

Some may believe that homemade kajals are safer than store-bought as you can regulate the ingredients. Although homemade kajal is safer than store-bought versions, it still includes carbon, which is harmful to a baby’s eyes. When applying the same to your baby’s eyes, there is still a chance of infection in the process of applying and removing it.


As per doctors, you should completely avoid the usage of kajal in babies – be it homemade or store-bought. If one wants to use it for ceremonial or customary reasons, it is advisable to apply it somewhere other than the eye. You can apply behind the ears or on the foot.

I chose not to apply kajal to my baby. What are your thoughts on the use of kajal for babies? Did your elders advise you to apply kajal? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments section below.

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