I am convinced that a kohl which performs brilliantly on one person, will be a fleeting disaster on another. I am not sure of the chemistry of why this is, but opinions of kohl varies so widely among different brands that I have to conclude that your perfect surmah (another name for kohl) is another’s bottom of the list types.
There are basically two types of kohl that I know of (and the blends are highly proprietary and so it’s impossible to be totally sure of what is in one or the other blend). The most common powder is one made from soot. A lamp is filled with clarified butter and allowed to burn all of the fuel. The soot is caught in an inverted pan and when the process is through, the pan is scraped and the resultant soot is used to rim the eyes.
The other type of kohl is pigment, or powdered color. There are a lot of different ways to make a pigment, but the powder is usually coarser than the soot method, does not melt into the rim as readily, but comes in a variety of colors.
The rate at which your eye renews tears has a great deal to do with the longevity of kohl on your eyes, and the rate at which the eye rids itself of anything which gets in it is a big factor, too. Your eye sweeps particles into the inner corner of the eye and any thing which gets too close to the eyeball while on the rim of the eye is in danger of being picked up and put into the eye corner. That is why too much kohl will invariably end up as “eye boogers” (and why you want to knock off the excess kohl from the kohl stick before applying).
I do best with the soot type of kohl. It stays on my lids for hours. I have not found one which is a 24 hr. kohl, but I am looking for it still. You might have a totally different experience. In my world, the worst kohl is anything which comes in a stick or as a pencil, they don’t last for an hour on me but others swear by them.
If you have a type of kohl that you swear by, please leave a comment and tell me which one it is. I am always up to try a new one and I know there are plenty of them out there that I have not heard of.