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Today I made a new video about how Kohl eye makeup may have prevented eye infections in Ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egyptian Eyes Saved Lives from Captain Skellett on Vimeo.

The video was sparked by a recent letter published in Analytical Chemistry which you can read here (at least, see the abstract. You have to pay for the rest).

Did the Ancient Egyptians know about this property? The researchers seem to think so, some of the lead compounds found in kohl do not occur naturally, and must have been man made by early chemists. The Ancient Egyptians believed that kohl around the eyes would give people protection from the gods, and it was prescribed by physicians to prevent eye infections.

Still, nowadays you should check that any Kohl you’re going to use is lead free, because you could be at risk of lead poisoning. Besides, with hygiene and antibacterials, eye infections aren’t such a big problem.