Islamic beauty: Can halal cosmetics outgrow their niche?

Wed Oct 6, 2010 11:38am EDT
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By Martina Fuchs

DUBAI (Reuters) - Thursday evening at a luxury, Pharaonic-themed spa in Dubai. Emirati women, colorful eye makeup contrasting with their black robes, wait by a bronze statue of a smiling Cleopatra for their weekend beauty treat.

The mineral-based skincare range used at the spa is free of pork and alcohol derivatives. Supplier Charlotte Proudman hopes to register it as compliant with sharia, or Islamic law, tapping into a growing trend for "halal cosmetics" in the mostly-Muslim Middle East and among the world's estimated 1.6 billion Muslims.

"I really want to put this onto our packaging so that our clients can be reassured that our products are halal, and that they can feel consistent in their religious beliefs," Proudman said at the spa, which uses the range she launched in 2008

"I really feel that halal cosmetics have a future. I don't think that a Muslim man or a Muslim lady should compromise their beliefs for a skincare range that will work well for them."

The word halal, Arabic for permissible, is often used to describe meat slaughtered and prepared in line with Islamic law.

Halal beauty products, which comprise $500 million of the $2 trillion global halal market, are made using plant extracts and minerals rather than the alcohol and pork ingredients that are banned in Islam but often found in cosmetics.

The appeal of halal cosmetics mirrors a global trend for ethical beauty products that are not tested on animals and do not use animal derivatives, as well as booming demand for ranges based on natural ingredients that are kind to hair and skin.

It is a trend that could appeal strongly to Muslims living in Europe, where a buzz already surrounds all things green.   Continued...

<p>Halal certified makeup is applied to Sabah Zaib in Birmingham, central England, July 28, 2010. REUTERS/Darren Staples</p>