By Sophia Hussain
Muslim women love to be beautiful. They line their eyes with kohl, wear the finest perfumes, are always perfectly manicured…but those who are most devout can face obstacles. What if their cosmetics contain ingredients forbidden by their faith? Some forbidden–or ‘haram’ in Arabic–ingredients commonly found in cosmetics include alcohol, pig-derived collagen or gelatin, or pig derived fat. In fact, it could be argued that Muslim women should use only vegan brands, as their religion demands that they respect the environment God created, and should never harm or abuse animals for the sake of beauty.
Step in halal (‘permissible’ in Arabic) beauty products. These are cosmetics that are sure not to contain any haram ingredients, and are usually also made by Muslims, and/or halal certified by a religious leader. What differentiates halal beauty products from mainstream or “organic” brands is that these brands may still contain trace amounts of haram ingredients, and may not necessarily be free from harmful chemicals such as parabens and sulfates.
Fortunately, many halal beauty brands offer fabulous luxe options to enhance beauty regimens – appealing to everyone seeking a healthy and ethical alternative. Here are highlights of seven innovative European halal beauty brands from Belgium, England, France, The Netherlands, and Turkey, all of which are all free from alcohol, swine-derived components, harmful chemicals, and are not tested on animals.
PHB Ethical Beauty was founded in 2012 by Rose Brown, a vegetarian, animal lover, and daughter of Jimmy Brown – 70’s British pop/reggae band UB40. She discovered that there was a lack of vegan products on the market which prompted her to create PHB, or Pure Health and Beauty. This Birmingham-based family business offers an extensive range of hand-made, halal certified [by the Halal Cosmetics Standards Agency UK], natural, and vegan-certified beauty products. There is a unique collection of natural remedies for treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Products are housed in minimal recyclable packaging with colour coded labels corresponding to a specific skin type. In 2013, PHB opened additional shops in the Nation of Brunei.
The Halal Cosmetics Company was established in 2013 after Lancashire-based founder and “mumpreneur” Salma Chaudhry was diagnosed with breast cancer [she is now cured]. She discovered that the available skincare products on the market contained carcinogenic ingredients, and were not halal either. The Halal Cosmetics Company collection contains an innovative ingredient called “astaxanthin” [pronounced asta-zan-thin], which is derived from a microalgae. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant which fights cancer-causing free radicals, and acts as a natural sunscreen too. The skincare collection is housed in chic lucite-white duo hued containers, with an identifying Islamic motif – the crescent and star. This socially conscious brand also donates proceeds from the sale of their collection to UK-based Macmillian Cancer support.
Jamal Paris Cosmétique was founded by Chantal Japhet in 2006, who created a luxe line of skincare and mineral-based cosmetics. “Jamal” means “beauty” in Arabic. Natural ingredients found in the Jamal Paris collection includes: sunflower oil, aloe vera, and rose water. An innovative ingredient in the skincare line, called “biowhite” complex, is a plant-based combination designed to promote even skin tone, and provides anti-aging benefits. Jamal Paris is scripted in an elegant arabesque text, where the skincare collection is housed in miminal white packaging with a delicate floral motif, and the mineral cosmetics range is housed in chic high-gloss black lacquer packaging. The brand is also halal-certified by the Grande Mosquée de Paris.
Mihri Istanbul is a luxury skincare line launched in 2012 by Istanbul-based Deren Chemicals, which has an over 28-year history in Turkey. Mihri, which means “sun” in Turkish, created a brilliant collection of natural origin-derived exotic ingredients including: calendula flower, carob tree, red seaweed, and decaffeinated green bean extracts. This collection of innovative cosmetics includes: an anti-cellulite lotion, anti-wrinkle creams, a body hair inhibitor lotion, and an anti-hair loss serum. The Mihri line is housed in luxurious gold, black and white packaging, adorned with an arabesque “sun” motif. Mihri is halal-certified by the GIMDES Halal Products Research Institute of Turkey, and there are exciting plans to launch the collection in France in 2014.
Whilst Poland has only a teeny weeny Muslim population, this is the land where one of the most popular Muslim beauty products comes from: Inglot.
With prayers five times a day and a pre-prayer ritual that requires washing the hands and arms, traditional fingernail polish has been mostly off limits for Muslim women because it prevents water from making contact with the nails. But Inglot’s revolutionary ‘breathable’ nail polish solves that problem.
The polish is the first to let air and moisture pass through to the nail, and thanks to its permeability, it complies with Muslim law – and did I mention it comes in a whole rainbow of amazing shades?