Halal, the Arabic word meaning "allowed" or "permissible," is generally used to describe food that adheres to Islamic dietary law. This law bans things like pork and alcohol and dictates how animals must be slaughtered, for example. But now, savvy female entrepreneurs are bringing the standard to makeup by creating cosmetic lines that promise to not only follow Islamic law, but to offer more natural and safer makeup for non-Muslims too.
Are halal cosmetics worth the added cost and effort?
For many Muslim women, the answer is clearly yes (although not all Muslims believe that the law extends to makeup), and the market is growing exponentially, according to market analysts in The Business of Fashion. They say to expect to see both indie and larger brands touting halal on their products this year. Some uber popular brands, like Shiseido, have already added "halal certified" to their list of standards, right next to things like vegan and paraben-free.
Is there a point for non-Muslims?
Well, some halal cosmetic brands maintain their product is held to a higher standard than regular makeup. "Many who visit our store for the first time have a limited understanding of halal, but, once they understand the philosophy and come to know that our products are vegan, cruelty free and devoid of harsh chemicals, they show a keen interest in trying our products," Mauli Teli, the co-founder of Iba Halal Care, told Euromonitor.
Still, it may be more hype than substance, says Ni'Kita Wilson, Ph.D., a cosmetic chemist and the founder and CEO of Skinects. "I would not consider halal makeup to be 'cleaner' or better regulated," she explains. "There are no cosmetic regulations around [the label] 'halal' therefore it is up to the brand to self-regulate."
It's this lack of consistency under the "halal" umbrella that has many consumers concerned. While all the products seem to avoid pork (weirdly, a common ingredient in lipstick) and alcohols, other claims vary widely from company to company. Although, to be fair, this problem certainly isn't limited to halal makeup companies.
And so, like most cosmetics, it comes down to the strength of the individual product, says Wilson. But she doesn't exactly see a downside to the label either. So if you're up for a little experimenting and love to support independent female-owned labels, halal-certified cosmetics might be a fun way to mix up your makeup this year.