Why the halal beauty business is booming: what makes skincare or make-up halal?

It's not just about products being free of alcohol and animal ingredients

Maxx Matte Liquid lLipsticks from halal-certified Iba Cosmetics
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The global halal cosmetics and personal care market is poised to grow by $28.34 billion between 2020 and 2024, claims research and analysis company Technavio in a mid-year report. Meanwhile, a June report by Prophecy Market Insights says that the global halal cosmetics market was worth $26 billion in 2019, and is expected to be worth $52bn by 2025.

That’s a whole lot of skincare, haircare and make-up – all of it free from alcohol and animal fat.

What is halal beauty?

An obvious definition of halal beauty would be products that steer clear of alcohol and animal products, notably pork. As Deni Kirkova, PR and influencer manager for Sydney's Inika Organics, puts it: "The halal certification guarantees our products do not contain any haram or prohibited ingredients, including alcohol."

The halal certification connects us with customers looking for a close connection with a brand that respects their culture and values

However, the concept is more deep rooted than that. “Halal literally means permissible … to ensure the purity and cleanliness of your sources," explains Suhel Heetawala, managing director of Shafat Trading, authorised distributors in the Middle East for India's halal-certified Iba Cosmetics. "Apart from the ingredients, the production process should also be halal-compliant to ensure a product is healthy and safe for human consumption. Most importantly, being halal makes sure the products are ethical, free from animal cruelty and harmless to the environment.”

Some ingredients that halal-compliant products avoid include: carmine (red colouration), which is derived by crushing cochineal beetles; fat from pigs, cows and sheep; animal hair, skin and bones; beeswax; and alcoholic spirits and scents.

Sydney company Inika claims its BB cream has the highest concentration of organic ingredients 
Sydney company Inika claims its BB cream has the highest concentration of organic ingredients 

“Animal fat is used excessively in cosmetics manufacturing to provide a moisturising effect to lipsticks and creams. We replace this with plant-derived emollients and fats, such as shea butter, castor oil, cocoa butter and Moroccan argan oil,” says Heetawala. “Animal-derived ingredients are not considered halal because one cannot be sure as to where they came from.”

The appeal of halal cosmetics

Beyond technicalities and certification, halal is a spiritual concept. As Shelina Janmohamed, author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World, writes: "Pointing to the Quranic concept of tayyab, a growing number of young Muslims are imposing their own, exacting ethical standards on the things they buy. Literally speaking, tayyab means good. But this idea of goodness is multifaceted.

“Essentially, being tayyab means that every element of the product must meet halal standards, from how workers are treated and animals are cared for to the environmental impacts of a product’s packaging. For some, even the advertising and marketing must be true to halal and tayyab principles.”

Vinicius Torres, sales director at Prolab Cosmetics, says: “Halal certification not only provides a seal of good manufacturing practices and quality, but also connects us with customers looking for a close connection with a brand that respects their culture and values … [for products] they will use and be proud to share within their communities.”

Prolab is the first Brazilian cosmetics manufacturer to be awarded certification by Cibal-Halal, and launched its halal portfolio in 2015 with two products: Tonalitta argan oil and Nutrat Hair Dress, a heat-protection leave-in cream. The following year, the brand extended its halal offering to 20 products, including 30 shades of hair colour that use plant-based keratin (rather than animal hair and horns).

Clearly, from a company point of view, too, a halal wing translates to heady profits. Inika, for example, experienced 28 per cent growth in 2019, says Kirkova, adding that the company, has been halal since its launch and has grown year on year.

 Four halal beauty products to try

Nail stains by Hala!

Available in seven shades, Hala! products are formulated with henna and plant-based dyes. “Hala! does not coat the nails. It simply stains the nails [when washed off] after an hour. What’s left is a beautiful, coloured stain on your nails,” explains founder Farah Bilal. This is also compliant with the belief that water must directly touch your nails while performing ablutions.

Argan Nutri Repair by Prolab

Argan Nutri Repair hair serum by Prolab
Argan Nutri Repair hair serum by Prolab

This serum strengthens and moisturises hair fibres, with its combination of argan oil, myrrh, calamus, Chinese cinnamon and olive.

Organic BB Cream by Inika

Claiming to contain “the highest percentage of certified organic ingredients [80 per cent] in a BB cream”, this product is made from prickly pear, pomegranate, avocado and jojoba oils.

Maxx Matte Liquid Lipstick by Iba Cosmetics

This Peta-certified product is available in a dozen shades, and is formulated using argan oil, marula oil and sweet almond oil. It is free of petroleum jelly and silicones.