– 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.