– By Suzanne Soto-Davies, OBLOOM Founder
Exploring and understanding diverse cultures and beliefs, including Islamic guidelines, is a valuable and enriching experience. This aspect of living in a multicultural country like Canada is truly remarkable, celebrating the beauty of diversity around us!
Having encountered the term 'halal' in the past, I found myself genuinely intrigued when a few years back I received an invitation to a women's gathering at our local Islamic Centre in Oakville, Ontario. Meeting wonderful individuals from diverse backgrounds, I was warmly embraced by this welcoming community. As I delved deeper into my education in the beauty industry, I felt inspired to share some of the valuable insights I gained through this experience.
Let's start from the beginning:
What is halal?
Halal is an Arabic term that translates to "permissible" or "lawful" in English. In Islam, halal refers to actions, behaviours, and items that are considered permissible and in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the Hadith (the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad). It encompasses a wide range of aspects, including food, drinks, cosmetics, financial transactions, and daily conduct. In the context of food, for instance, halal signifies that the products are prepared and consumed by Islamic dietary laws, and certain foods, such as pork and alcohol, are strictly prohibited. Similarly, halal certification is applied to various products and services to indicate their compliance with Islamic principles and guidelines.
Halal, in the context of cosmetics, refers to products that are produced, manufactured, and formulated by Islamic guidelines and principles. Currently, approximately 1 in 4 consumers globally adhere to halal practices. These guidelines ensure that the cosmetics do not contain any ingredients derived from animals that are considered haram ('forbidden'), such as pork derivatives or alcohol, and are free from any substances that might be harmful or considered impure.
In addition, halal cosmetics are also not tested on animals, adhering to the concept of cruelty-free practices – one of the reasons why halal cosmetics are rapidly growing in popularity, with 31% of halal cosmetics now being purchased by non-Muslim consumers seeking ethical and sustainable beauty options.
For Muslim consumers, using halal-certified cosmetics provides reassurance that the products align with their religious beliefs and ethical values.
ARE THESE COSMETIC INGREDIENTS HALAL OR HARAM?
Some ingredients that are haram (not accepted, not considered halal) include:
Pork-derived ingredients: Ingredients such as pork-derived gelatin, collagen, or any other substances sourced from pigs are not permissible in halal cosmetics.
Alcohol: Ethanol and other forms of alcohol derived from grapes, wine, or any other intoxicating source are typically avoided in halal cosmetics. It's important to note that some cosmetic ingredients may contain the word alcohol, such as cetyl alcohol or cetearyl alcohol (combinations of fatty alcohols used to thicken cosmetic products), yet they are accepted for use since they are only used externally.
Non-halal animal-derived ingredients: Ingredients sourced from animals that are not slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines are considered non-halal. This includes ingredients like tallow (rendered animal fat), and carmine (a red pigment derived from insects, see below under 'insects'). Note: Some animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax (from bees), and lanolin (fat rendered by boiling sheep's wool) are accepted because the animal is not harmed by obtaining the ingredient and because these ingredients will not penetrate the body and will be used externally only. This is one of the reasons why vegans may want to check the ingredients listed in halal cosmetic products, as they may contain animal byproducts such as beeswax, milk and honey. Similarly, vegan cosmetics may not be halal as some vegan products may contain alcohol-based ingredients such as extracts used on the skin and hair.
Carnal extracts: Extracts obtained from non-halal slaughtered animals, such as bovine (cattle) or ovine (sheep), and human stem cell-derived ingredients are not permitted in halal cosmetics.
Insects and their by-products: Certain insect-derived ingredients, like cochineal (E-12, another name for carmine, typically used for colouring products) and shellac, which is produced by the lac insect (often used in nail polishes), are typically avoided in halal cosmetics.
Non-halal slaughterhouse by-products: Ingredients derived from animals slaughtered in a non-halal manner or as a by-product of non-halal practices are not considered halal.
Any harmful or impure substances: Ingredients that may pose a risk to health or are considered impure are not allowed in halal cosmetics.
*It's important to note that the definition of halal can vary based on interpretations and cultural differences within Muslim communities, and some individuals or certification organizations may have specific criteria for determining halal status in cosmetics.
How is a cosmetic product certified halal?
Cosmetic products can be certified halal through a process of evaluation and verification by halal certification bodies. The certification process involves several steps to ensure that the products comply with Islamic principles and guidelines, including ingredient assessments, manufacturing process reviews, halal handling and storage (to assure prevention of contamination), cruelty-free verification, and other key criteria.
In 2016, Canada introduced new regulations stipulating that any product labelled as halal must undergo certification by a reputable organization before being permitted to display the halal-approved logo. The process of obtaining halal certification for cosmetics is rigorous, ensuring complete traceability and ethical sourcing of every ingredient. In Canada, numerous halal certification organizations exist to verify the compliance of products with halal standards.
SO THEN: ARE OUR OBLOOM HAIR PRODUCTS IN CANADA HALAL CERTIFIED?
Obtaining halal certification for a cosmetic product is challenging due to the need for careful ingredient sourcing, adhering to complex manufacturing processes, investing time and resources in the certification, and choosing a reliable certification body.
While our OBLOOM hair products are formulated with natural, vegan, dairy-free, and cruelty-free ingredients, we have not obtained halal certification for them at this time. As we strive to create exceptional nature-derived hair products, including one dedicated to scalp care, we are actively considering the possibility of halal certification. Our aim is to cater specifically to the halal-conscious audience, ensuring they can trust and take pride in using our products. We remain committed to delivering high-quality hair care solutions while keeping the potential for halal certification in mind for the future.
We highly value your input on this topic and would love to hear from you! Your feedback is essential to us as we strive to cater to your specific hair and scalp needs. Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to drop us a line. We look forward to receiving your valuable insights!
Bonus! Scalp tips if you wear a hijab
In contemporary times, the term "hijab" typically encompasses diverse head coverings traditionally worn by the majority of Muslim women. Although a hijab can take various styles, it commonly denotes a headscarf that is draped over the head and neck, providing coverage to the hair, neck, and ears while leaving the face exposed. Wearing a hijab is mandatory in some Muslim countries, although not all.
Possible scalp-related issues:
Women wearing a hijab may encounter various scalp issues due to prolonged use of the head covering. Common problems include scalp dryness, itchiness, and discomfort caused by reduced airflow; hair breakage and damage from tight tying or friction; sweating, leading to unpleasant odours and potential dandruff; traction alopecia resulting from constant pressure on hair follicles; and the risk of fungal or bacterial infections due to a warm and humid environment created by the hijab. Additionally, some women may experience allergic reactions to the materials used in hijabs, leading to scalp irritation and discomfort.
Tips you may not have heard, to prevent scalp issues and irritation:
In addition to the most commonly shared advice (use breathable materials, regular cleansing, allowing the scalp to air uncovered as often as possible) we offer these tips:
Try cleansing with our Nourishing Greens Shampoo Bar, which is gentle on the scalp and hair, and without the use of harsh ingredients.
Place a cup of regular cooking oatmeal in a stocking, tie a knot, and allow to soak in warm water. Then squeeze the 'milk' that comes out of the wet stocking and allow to soak on the scalp. Oatmeal contains antifungal properties, gently exfoliates the skin, relieves itchiness and moisturizes the skin naturally. Be sure to rinse well with warm (or if possible cool) water thoroughly, and allow your scalp to air dry or gently 'cool' dry using a blow dryer.
Aloe vera is another wonderful scalp reliever! You can use the milk inside the aloe plant leaves rather than the bottled, prepared aloe gel which usually contains a small percentage of alcohol. Blend the natural gel in a blender adding 1 part distilled water to 3 parts aloe vera gel, and pour on your scalp. Rinse well with tepid water.
Scalp massages are important here, as they will give your scalp a circulation boost to wake up hair follicles and unclog any possible trapped fats, dirt and sebum (oil). DO NOT use your nails, only the pads of your fingers, and go gently like you're massaging a baby's back (nice and easy!). Watch our Instagram video [HERE] for friendly instructions that will also give you a giggle!
Be sure to allow your scalp to fully dry after washing your hair, before putting your hijab back on! The scalp temperature is quite warm and can easily trap moisture in, or attract moisture from the air, causing more fungal issues and itchiness.
On a final note, please follow us and watch for upcoming new product releases we are sure you will appreciate! And don't forget to follow us on social media too!