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Kohl, An Enduring Cosmetic



Kohl is an ancient cosmetic, used primarily as an eyeliner. Women like Miriam’s deputy Phoebe used kohl as part of their makeup routine, but even Miriam was willing to try it when they were creating disguises to spy on the man they suspected of planning a murder. Here, in “The Mistress”, a short story in The Deadliest Deceptions, Phoebe urges Miriam:


“Put on this black wig, use this salve to rouge your lips, and then do what I do: Line your eyes with this.” She poked me with a pot of kohl. “And while you’re at it—you look a little sulky—paint your lids green with some of this powder.”


I complied with an extravagant sigh.


“And hurry.” Phoebe wagged a warning finger under my nose. “Don’t forget: We’re not here to play dress-up. We’re here to stop a murder!”


In fact, kohl has had a long and complex history going back at least five thousand years to Ancient Egypt. Originally it was made from stibnite, a non-lead-based sulfide of antimony. More recently, however, it came to be made from a galena, a natural form of lead sulfide. And so, authentic kohl is illegal in the United States because of the danger of lead poisoning. The product marketed here as “authentic kohl”, while playing on the popularity of Eastern exoticism, is actually made from shea and cocoa butter.


So, check out the product before you buy it. You don’t want the authentic kohl made from galena, but you will want an authentic Miriam bat Isaac Mystery. The product is safe, though it might cause you to lose a little sleep. So, just click here.

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