Al-kuhl, al-kohl, alcohol

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Al-kohl – The Historical Connection Between Alcohol and Makeup

The term “alcohol” traces its roots to the Arabic words “Al-kohl” or “Al–kuhl,” denoting a powder employed in the creation of eyeliners. The practice of darkening the eyes was prevalent in ancient India, Egypt, and African cultures. The original “Al-kohl” formulation comprised a blend of galena, cerussite, laurionite, and phosgenite.

 In the era spanning 100-300 AD, Mary the Jewess, also known as Mary the Prophetess, delved into distillation research in Alexandria, Egypt. Her breakthroughs in distillation technology were promptly applied to enhance “Al-kohl.” Distilling manganese ore became a key method to refine early makeup, rendering it smoother and more easily applicable. Although the initial eye makeups posed risks of lead poisoning, “Al-kohl” makeup served a dual purpose by safeguarding the eyes against infections arising from Nile waters.

The evolution of the term “Al-kohl” extended beyond makeup distillation to encompass all distilled substances. Early alchemists perceived distillation as a means to distill something down to its essence or “spirit.” It wasn’t until approximately the 18th century that the term “alcohol” found its way into the lexicon, specifically referring to potable alcoholic beverages.

The Distilling Culture


Embark on a global journey, and you’ll find that cultures possess tales that harken back to their ancient beginnings of distillation, brewing, and winemaking.

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