BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters Life!) - As a Muslim, Samina Akhter was disturbed to find some of her make-up contained pig by-products so she came up with a solution — a range of halal make-up, free from alcohol and animal products.
Under Islamic law, alcohol and certain meats are forbidden with pork especially taboo so Akhter was shocked to learn some of the products she used contained alcohol and even pig placenta.
So she devised her own make-up line, Samina Pure Make-up, launched from her home in Birmingham in June this year after two years of testing which now boasts to be Britain’s first company to sell halal-certified cosmetics.
“This has been on my conscience,” Akhter, 41, a mother of five, told Reuters Television.
“I realized many (make-up product) do contain ingredients that are not permissible to Muslims to eat and I just started thinking, well if it’s not permissible to eat, then why should I put it on my face?”
The range, which is mainly sold online, includes items like foundation, blusher, eyeshadows and lipsticks, priced from about 8 pounds ($12.50) and is initially targeted at the almost one million Muslim woman living in Britain.
Mascara is still unavailable as the process of making a halal version is still being studied.
Akhter said in keeping with Islamic law, her make-up is made by manufacturers in Australia and Europe from plant extracts, minerals, essential oils and vitamins.
The cosmetics are certified by the independent Halal Certification Authority Australia.
Akhter said she now has more than 500 customers and interest in the cosmetics has come from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East.
She said the halal range, free of chemicals and animal products, had also proved popular with vegans and vegetarians.
Some Muslim leaders have criticized Akhter for exploiting a religious concept.
But she argues there is demand for halal make-up with about 1.6 billion Muslim worldwide but only a small number of companies offering cosmetics or other bath products that conform to halal standards.
“The reaction I’ve had from women so far has been so positive and encouraging,” said Akhter who is looking to expand beyond Britain and to get her products into pharmacies and stores.
“I really feel that this product has ... actually filled a gap in the market. So it’s not a case of trying to cash in. It’s a case of providing people with something they’re looking for.”
Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith