Lead and traditional Moroccan pharmacopoeia

Sci Total Environ. 2001 Dec 3;280(1-3):39-43. doi: 10.1016/s0048-9697(01)00801-4.


The use of traditional cosmetics and remedies such as kohl and henna is very common in Morocco, especially among women, children and babies. Kohl is a dangerous eye cosmetic. It is usually mixed with other harmful substances, then applied on women's eyebrows and used in skin treatments for infants. Henna is another traditional product, with religious associations, which has been widely used over the centuries for cosmetic and medical purposes. Many people add various herbs or other substances to the henna in order to strengthen it or to give it a stronger colour. Our results were reassuring in that the concentrations of lead found in non-elaborate (henna only) samples of henna were low. However, when henna was mixed with other products (elaborate henna), these concentrations increased. Lead concentrations in kohl were very high however, unlike henna, were lower in mixed kohl as mixing with other products diluted the concentration of lead. Nevertheless, in both types of kohl, lead concentrations were very high and consequently constitute a risk for public health, particularly for children.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coloring Agents / chemistry
  • Cosmetics / chemistry*
  • Drug Contamination*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lead / analysis*
  • Lead / chemistry
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Naphthoquinones / chemistry
  • Sulfides / chemistry
  • Trace Elements / analysis


  • Coloring Agents
  • Cosmetics
  • Naphthoquinones
  • Sulfides
  • Trace Elements
  • lead sulfide
  • Lead
  • lawsone