Hmm, is the sorma here safe to use?

Normally I wouldn’t dream of using any sorma (kohl) other than what I purchased from an apothecary in the Esfahan bazaar (it’s real ithmid)…but I’m out of it, so recently I went into a shop here which sells a variety of sorma and asked to see them.

The seller kept recommending this one which had “ZamZam” water in it. Hmm, I was a bit skeptical, like how can ZamZam water be in it and really, if it’s real ithmid, it’s quite good to use regardless. But, the options he had was pretty limited, it was the ZamZam “infused” Kohl and some greasy stuff from Pakistan. Ive used the greasy stuff before but it usually hurts my eyes and Im wary of the Hasmi and other brands.

Hence I bougth the powered sorma with “ZamZam” in it. I asked the guy, does this have lead? He didnt understand me. There was another sorma option there, which was similar but didnt have “ZamZam” in it and wasnt from Mekkah so he told me to buy the ZamZam one, it’s better…according to him.

Ive used it and really, I can tell it’s not real ithmid, first it’s dark black and two when I put it on, it doesnt spread around, cleanse the eyes and then stick to the lashes as well as the real sorma I had from Esfahan. Plus real ithmid is not deep black, it’s like a dark greyish color and it sticks to the lashes and will last quite a long time, it also spreads all around the eyes cleaning out any dust. It burns as all heck when first put on, but it’s worth it because your eyes appear very clean afterwards.

So hmmm, is this one of the ones with lead in it? I might go back and purchase the other one. Or I might just wait until I go to Iran in late summer and have the hubby take me back to the Esfahan bazaar for more.


I just answered my own question…I found a picture of the exact sorma I bought which according to the NY Dept of Health it does contain lead. Oh Poo!!!

Can anyone type out something in Arabic stating that this one has lead so I can give it to the shop keeper…?


12 thoughts on “Hmm, is the sorma here safe to use?

  1. That’s so scary!!
    I’ve heard of the lead in the kohl before.. and I used to see it sold during Islamic conventions here in the States. You’d think they would have received the memo lol.
    What does real kohl look like? I’m really intrigued since the only stuff I’ve seen are these pencils.

  2. i’ve seen that Hashmi stuff at a lot of the Somali shops. I would love to get some real kohl, but I think I’ll have to order it online. Good thing you only used the stuff once!

  3. Try Rani. It shouldn’t contain lead. I’m using it and it is really the most long lasting, less painful kohl there is. I feel like most the stuff from India and Pakistan is not safe. I bought some indian kajal from ebay, and whenever I used it I got bubble like rashes on my back and tummy. Really scary stuff.

    • Hmmm, I might try it. You can get the Rani brand stuff everywhere, though I hadnt considered trying their kohl as I really am not a fan of their “henna” tubes which is basically just dye which wears off in a couple hours.

      Yah that is scary how the other stuff gives u skin problems…eeks!

      • I never tried their henna, but I’ve been trying out several brands of kohl, kajal and eye pencils for as long as I’ve worn make up. Expensive Western brands, cheapo Pakistani stuff, kohl powder from pharmacies in Egypt, you name it. Rani is the best, most long lasting, blackest and least smudgy there is. And really cheap too 😀

    • Well, frankly I normally just buy the fresh sorma in Iran and since I am going in July, en’shallah Im going to try to replenish my stash and maybe also bring back some to sell. Big downer to real sorma is that it is really, really expensive. Per gram…like last time I got it was like 10$ or so…and by Iranian standards thats super expensive. I think this is why the cheap, fake stuff is so popuolar. Also, real sorma isnt as dark as the fake stuff and stings like the dickens when first applied. Since its mostly considered a “eye medicine” in traditional Persian cultre most women dont wear it constantly…even rural women. They reserve it for when their eyes are dry, tired or irritated. The kajal-sort of stuff which is ghee soot is more popular from common wear and ofcourse now, there is western style makeup.

      Let me know if some of the real stuff interests u, I can get it over the summer. en’shallah

  4. I was going to say that one contains lead; but you found out already. The only real surma these days comes from either a)Morocco or b)Iran I have also heard it can be obtained from Yemen but it doesn’t seem the Yemeni stuff is ever exported. I’d avoid the Moroccan variety also as it is extremely gritty. I know there is a health site based in the UK that sells the iranian ones but not sure of the URL, ah here it is. The kohl is black but I know sisters personally who know this sister and I know she gets the products made for her specifically..

  5. assalamu alaikom,
    are you interested in the western-style stuff or just the real deal? cuz there is a french company (guerlain) that makes kohl… i am curious to hear more about the iranian stuff. a gram for $10 sounds reasonable since it’s going to last a long time, right? why does it sting?

  6. so the burning…that’s from the kohl CLEANING your eyes? I just got some home made stuff my best friend’s mom in Nepal makes, all natural and “ayurvedic” and i used it this morning for the first time, just on the bottom, which usually always smudges off by mid day. Its now 3pm and it’s still on buy BOY DID IT BURN this morning!

    • Well, really it depends. I dont know what was in the sorma you were using but with the real ithmid/sorma it does sting as it has anti-bacterial properties and is a natural remedy for eye infections, styes and generally cleans out any dust or debris in the eyes. Which as you know, in this area of the world dust is everywhere! But yours…if it really is natural and anti-bacterial, then yes most likely the burning is from it’s anti-bacterial, cleansing effect. but, one big concern I have about “sorma ” made in India, Pakistan and I donno, maybe Nepal is that often its just lamp soot and who knows what else.
      So Id say, as long as it didnt adversely effect you, maybe reserve the sorma for occasional use for cleaning out your eyes and keeping them healthy.

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