As the founder of Glow by Claudia Nour, I often get asked the question; “what is halal makeup?”,
“what does whudu friendly mean?”, “can i pray with it?”, “do I have to remove it?”, “is the makeup I am using halal?”, “what ingredients should I avoid?”, All these questions are valid and all of them were on my mind when I started to realize that I wanted the cosmetics I was applying on my skin to be in line with my faith.
In the next few pages you will read about how I started my line, which guidelines i followed, and how I build my line of products to be all natural, halal and whudu friendly.
I converted to Islam in September 2012, after not knowing anything about this amazing belief system, I was 26 years old when I discovered the religion that my heart was looking all my life and I wanted to make everything in my life be in harmony with my new lifestyle. In many areas this transition was easy because I was able to find a lot of advice, information,video lectures,books, etc. about the many different aspects of Islam. But in one of the areas that I could not find a lot of information was in the beauty and skin care area; I looked and looked and tried to find other sisters who have figured out how to deal with the prayer and the usage of cosmetics but I could not find anyone that could point me in the right direction, and i could already tell that this was an issue that was very present, but nobody wanted to discuss, so I took it into my own hands to read and research and find out what things could prevent me from fulfilling my religious duties and which things were in line with my new practices.
So what is Halal makeup anyways?
The word Halal simply means what is permitted or lawful, and as muslims there are lots of things that are Halal, but there are a few that are Haraam (unlawful or not permissible), and when any of these ingredients are present in our food, skin care or clothing, etc then these cannot be considered halal anymore.
So which ingredients are not permissible (Haraam) ?
Pork and pork derived ingredients,
Alcohol (there are certain alcohols that are Halal, but I have chosen to exclude all Alcohol from my products)
Carmine (Carmine is the Red color used in many makeup products that is derived from the crushed dried up Cochineal insects, and all Insects except Locusts are Haram to consume)
The problem with skin care ingredients is that there are a lot of by-products that are made from a combination of pork and other animals, so you have to learn to read the labels and find in what ways these ingredients could be sneaking into your products, watch out for these ingredients:
Tallow: Tallow is a common ingredient in many cosmetics including eye makeup, lipstick, makeup bases and foundations. To the everyday consumer, it’s more common name would be rendered animal fat. The process involves boiling the carcasses of slaughtered animals until a fatty substance is produced, ready to add to cosmetics and apply to one’s face.
Gelatin: Similar to tallow, gelatin is the boiled skin, tendons, ligaments and bones of animals. Absolutely off limits unless you know that there was no pork involved, but I personally think that we can have amazing products without the need of any kind of gelatin.
Collagen: Found in cosmetic lip-plumping glosses, this is a fibrous protein from animal tissue that has no proven effect on your own collagen reproduction. Unless the source is known , and it is known that no pork was used in the making, is not permissible.
Estrogen: Also listed as Estradiol, its origin is a very impure one and something i would not consider pure for us to use, this hormone-based can be found in most perfumes, restorative creams or lotions. Estrogen is obtained by extracting urine from pregnant horses.
Ambergris: This is an ingredient that i consider to be harmful to the animal and therefore unethical and un-islamic, because it is derived from the waxy oil that lines whale’s stomachs. This oil substance is used to make the scent “set” in perfumes, but in some instances whales are hunted and killed for this sole purpose, sharks are also in great danger because of the cosmetic industry and you will see with the next ingredient.
Squalene: This substance is extracted from the livers of sharks and then added to your eye makeup and lipsticks, but the biggest use is in facial moisturizers. The practice of hunting sharks for the oil in their livers is not in line with a humane and islamic practice for my business.
Glycerin/glycerol is found in Moisturizers, cleansers after shave. If glycerin is obtained from pork fat then it will be Haram.The glycerin used in all of my products is vegetable based and free of all pork and alcohol.
Stearic Acid is another ingredient that can be both obtained from an animal or vegetable source, the stearic acid in my products is from a vegetable origin, but unless you know what is the origin of this ingredients, then is best to stay away from it.
Gelatin is a widely known ingredient that is more easily spotted by Muslims, and all thought there is no gelatin in my products, if you are not sure of the origin of the gelatin in any products you have or wish to buy, better be safe and move on.
But I am not consuming them….
You might not be consuming these ingredients as you would a regular meal, but given that the skin is porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. So what you apply on the largest organ of your body is just as important as what you put inside of it. And if there are ingredients that are not permissible for us to consume, it makes logical sense that we should not be applying these on our skin, since they will also be absorbed into our bodies.
In 1990, the National Health and Medical Research Council in Canberra, Australia, asserted the average woman could expect to swallow between 500 and 1,500 grams of lipstick in her lifetime if she was a modest but regular user. These are just guidelines that let us know that we should pay attention to the things that come in contact with our bodies, not only internally but externally as well.
“I don't consider halal makeup one idea that prevents us from using this ingredient or that ingredient but it's a whole system that is meant to purify us and to keep our bodies as clean as possible both physically and spiritually.”
So are all halal products whudu-friendly?
So now that i knew which ingredients no to use, there was another obstacle standing in the way of a seamless prayer-cosmetics relationship. Could I perform my ritual cleansing (or Whudu) with the makeup I was wearing? Or am I supossed to remove it first to then reapply?
Honestly, this was the part where I was completely stuck, and where I could not find a logical answer. Most of the advice I could find came in the form of comments from other sisters under YouTube videos, Facebook or Instagram pictures where they guessed and tried to give their best opinion, which most of the time was summed up in a few variants;
Wear no makeup whatsoever
Remove your makeup completely and then reapply,
Or makeup will not prevent the water from reaching the skin, so don’t worry about it,
As you could imagine, none of these answers seemed logical to me, because one I had just reverted to Islam, and as a new convert who was attempting to wear the hijab, a makeup-less face just seemed to hard. But I also couldn't imagine putting on makeup and reapplying it four times a day(since you are definitely not wearing makeup for the Dawn or Fajr prayer), and I also am aware of waterproof makeup so the third option seemed completely off to me.
So I kept investigating to find which ingredients were used in the cosmetic industry to water proof makeup, and it was not hard to find the answer, as this ingredient is used in more than 70% of cosmetics nowadays: Silicones!
Silicones go by different names (dimethicone is one of the best-known) and are modified into numerous different formulas in order to perform the specific role expected of them: waterproofing and retaining moisture are one of the basic functions in cosmetics, and these are the ones that might be preventing the water from reaching the skin during whudu, but at the same time that they are keeping the water from getting in, they are also keeping the sweat and toxins from getting out. And while silicone originates from a natural source, it undergoes extensive chemical processing that leaves a huge ecological footprint and renders the ingredient ultimately synthetic, and this is one of the reasons many people, no matter their background, are choosing to eliminate silicones from their skin care.
So when I found the reason why there is a barrier for the water to reach my skin while I perform my ritual cleansing before prayer (whudu), I decided to experiment with myself and started crafting foundations for my own personal use, but I also saw that keeping haraam ingredients out of my formulas still left me with a lot of ingredients that i knew were not good for the skin. After all ingredients like Talc, Bismuth oxychloride, Petrolatum,coal tar dyes are halal to use, but I knew that I also wanted products that will benefit and not harm my skin.
All natural, Halal and Whudu-friendly
So in the last step in creating my mineral foundations, I decided to include only natural ingredients, as pure to the source as possible, to not only have a cosmetic option that was free of impermissible substances, but that was full of nutrients for the skin, and that will be free of silicones to also allow the skin to breathe and eliminate toxins, while at the same time letting the water touch our skin when it came the time to clean ourselves for prayers.
And that is how my line of cosmetics was born! Now i have expanded the line to include lipsticks, concealers and much more!