Reference for Malik Ishtar RPers - Applying Kohl and its Importance

“So you want to learn how to look as gorgeous as I do?”

So I’ve been wanting to make a post like this for a while since I’ve seen a lot of Malik RPers either improperly addressing the kohl or just ignoring it altogether.

Firstly, what Malik is wearing is kohl. It is NOT the same as western cosmetic eyeliner though it is used as eyeliner in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. Historically, kohl’s been used to protect from the sunlight in desert habitats. It was also used to prevent insects from getting into the eyes and to ward off evil. Kohl is also thought to prevent certain eye diseases. In modern times, kohl is now mostly just used for makeup. 

Kohl comes in powder, paste, and liquid forms. There are also different methods of applying it whether it’s a modern method (applying it like western eyeliner) or a traditional method. However, for the purposes of this post, I’m going for the traditional route. We can assume that since the Ishtar family is very traditional, kohl application would be of no exception to that. With that in mind, the family would use powder kohl and not liquid. They would also most likely have made their own kohl mixture which is traditionally darker than commercial store-bought kohl. After Malik got to the surface, I’d imagine that he gets his kohl custom made and gets it delivered to him. The powder might come from other clan members who made the kohl in the tombs or from a company that makes top quality kohl. I don’t think he would make kohl himself. 

I believe Malik wouldn’t use manufactured kohl as it’s made with chemicals and other alternative ingredients. Some manufactured kohl can actually be harmful to the eyes. The kohl he uses would be pure kohl.

Kohl in the Ishtar Clan:

l should note that Isis’s way of applying kohl is different from Malik and Rishid’s way.

As seen in this picture, her style is more how it’s commonly applied by women. The lines are smoother. In contrast, Malik’s lines are sharper. And of course, there are the three swoops around and under the eyes (and yes, three. not two).

Now, why do Malik and Rishid wear their kohl in such a way?

I’d like to point out this amazing detail that Kazuki Takahashi put in the manga. I missed this detail the first time I read through the chapter. When Malik is a child, he does not wear the kohl. That said, his father wears the kohl with the three swoops. Even while Malik is undergoing the ritual, he is not wearing kohl. However, when he staggers out of the chambers in his bandages, he is wearing kohl for the first time. From this, we can infer that the kohl is anointed upon completing the ritual and is only supposed to be worn in this style by the head of the Ishtar clan and subsequent heir.

So how did Rishid end up with the kohl around his eyes? While he was seen as the servant of the family, he didn’t wear kohl. If you notice, during Battle City, Rishid wears the kohl in the same way as Malik and Malik’s father. I believe the kohl symbolizes the strength of their bond. Malik viewed Rishid as his shadow and his right-hand man. Malik gave Rishid permission to wear the kohl in such a way to mark him as part of the Ishtar clan. The kohl is Malik’s way of letting Rishid into his family as his brother.

With that context established, we know that kohl markings are extremely important to the Ishtar family. It is part of their customs and holds cultural and religious significance to them. Malik would apply his kohl everyday just as a pharaoh would put on his headdress to mark his status as leader.

Practical Information about Kohl:

As I said earlier, I’m going to focus on the traditional methods rather than on the more modern kohl application process. Also, the kohl I’m discussing is specifically the powered kind and not the paste or liquid kohl.

As pictured above, this is kohl in its powdered form. It’s not purely black. There is shine in it from the ground up minerals. Non-traditional kohl can also come in different colors such as green and blue.

Traditional kohl is stored inside of this wooden container. It’s called a kohlia. The application stick that comes with the kohlia is called a kohl stick

Kohl is water-proof, but it can smudge. So to people who write Malik’s kohl “running” from tears, it’s not very accurate. At most, his kohl would smudge from crying, but it wouldn’t run down his face like mascara. While it is water-proof, it is not spit-proof so saliva could ruin it.

How to apply kohl in the traditional way:

First, you would need to soak the smaller round end of the kohl stick in rosewater or olive oil overnight. This way, the oil can soak into the wood. The oil can also be used to clean the kohl powder off of the stick once you finish applying it.

When the oil soaks into the wood, the powder will stick to the kohl stick when it’s placed inside of the kohlia. 

The method I’m going to describe takes a lot of practice. It is also very easy to smudge the kohl if done incorrectly. Also, while western culture may often only apply eyeliner to the outside of the eye, kohl is traditionally applied to the waterline. 

  1. Dip the kohl stick into the powder and flick off the excess powder.
  2. If right-handed, hold it the stick in your right hand. Close the eye. With the other hand, slightly pull up on the eyelid with the index finger and thumb.
  3. Here is the trickiest step. Hold the stick parallel to the eye. Place the end of the stick to the inner corner of the eye and carefully drag the stick between the eyelids from one end of the eye to the outer corner in one movement. You have to practically touch the eye with the stick to make sure the kohl gets on the waterline. This method also ensures that both the upper and lower eyelids have the kohl applied to them.
  4. Add extra kohl to the outer and inner corners if you wish. Though, in Malik’s case, definitely extend lines out from the inner (lower eyelid) and outer corners of the eye.
  5. (For Malik) Re-dip the kohl stick to get more powder. Draw a line out from the lower outer corner of the eye (what I’d count as the first swoop). From the end of that line, make the second swoop by moving a line down with a curve arching towards the eye (length of this line would be about half the thumb). From the end point of the second line, extend a third line that goes back towards the nose. The third swoop is also slightly curved downwards and length of it stops at around the center of the eye.
  6. Re-dip the kohl stick and hold it in the left hand. Repeat the steps 2-5 on the other eye.

How to remove kohl:

As I mentioned earlier, kohl is water-proof. Therefore, extra care needs to be taken in order to remove it from the eyes. Often times, even after removal, kohl can linger on the lower eyelashes and make the eyes appear darker (resembling dark circles under the eyes).

You can use cleansing milk or olive/castor oil to remove kohl effectively. Apply the cleansing milk to the face and massage under the eyes. Use cotton balls to remove the kohl and other dirt.

With oil, just put a few drops of the oil under the eyes and massage into the skin to remove the kohl. Use a cotton ball to wipe off the kohl and follow up with a proper face wash.

Face scrub and Vaseline can also help to clean off kohl. 

For someone like Malik, who cares a lot about his appearance, he would most likely use cleansing milk or oil for proper kohl removal before bed. 

So I hope that people who RP Malik Ishtar or write him in fanfiction have learned some new things today. Kohl is not the same as western eyeliner and holds a lot of cultural significance in Northern Africa and in the Middle East. It deserves to be recognized more often when writing Malik’s character. They are an extremely important facet of his life and his heritage as a tombkeeper.

UNDER HYPED: Max Factor Kohl Pencils

Whilst I love my gel and liquid liners I’m a huge lover of pencils, specifically kohl pencils. Kohl pencils are one of my favourite eyeliner formulas, they can be blended over the eyelid as an eyeshadow base or a quick fix shadow, smudged in between the lashes for a smoky effect and they also work beautifully on the waterline. Many of you may know that I’ve been a lover of Rimmel kohl pencils for as long as I can remember,  but I’ve had a new favourite for a while now… Max Factor’s Kohl Pencils are the most beautiful, creamy, soft kohl pencils I have come across. They’re soft and gentle, they don’t irritate my eyes and they give the most beautiful smoky, grungy effect when blended out, whether you smudge it out on your upper & lower lashes with a brush, cotton tip or even your fingers you’ll have gorgeous, sultry, smoky looking eyes that are basically foolproof. I love these things.

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