After halal food and halal banking, Muslims are more and more conscious of what they put on their face.
Three years ago Pascalle and Abdellatif Driouech from Lelystad had the idea to start their own halal cosmetics line. Pascalle Driouch says that they thought of it during Ramadan, when they were in a pharmacy reading labels to see if the ingredient list included alcohol or animal products. They thought it would be much easier if they would package it specially.
It wasn't so simple to develop such a new product. "Everybody knows about halal food, but for halal cosmetics we had to investigate a lot," explains Driouech. Halal means allowed according to Islamic laws, in contrast to 'haram', that means 'illegal'. Halal cosmetics may not contains alcohol, animal products or genetically manipulated ingredients. Micro-organisms wiped out with help of radioactive radiation are also taboo.
Dutch bathrooms are apparently full of 'haram' cosmetics. Often there is alcohol in ordinary soap, shampoo, body lotions, hairspray, perfume, shaving creme, lipsticks and nail polish.
Halal cosmetics is big business in the Middle East. About 25% of all sold cosmetics is now halal there, according to cosmetic organization Biz Com. consumers are more and more conscious of ingredients and production methods. "In Europe we'll see the same thing," expects Mirna Van Donselaar of Cosmetitext. Van Donselaar is a beauty trend watcher.
In the cosmetics fair they found an increasing interest in ethnic target groups. "Make-up and skin-care for darker skin and halal cosmetic come up. Halal cosmetics relates mostly to the Muslim life style, but there are also non-Muslims who absolutely prefer pure care products. In the Netherlands, 1 in 15 people are Muslims, and there are about 50,000 ethnic employers; you can thus expect that this is a potentially profitably target group. Plus: the new generation of Muslims is critical and has money for this type of products," says Donselaar.
cosmetics giants like L'Oréal and Unilever currently don't see Muslims as a separate target group (yet). Whoever wants to use halal cosmetics is for now directed to small companies and Islamic web-shops.
Under the label Sahfee Halal Care, Pascalle and Abdellatif Driouech came out recently with 100% halal shampoo in the Dutch market. The ingredients, quantities and production method of this official version are approved by the Halal Quality Control Office (HQC) in The Hague. "They send it through to Dubai and Malaysia, because there they know a lot more about it," explains Driouech. Last summer the HQC gave the green light for the women's shampoo formula and this could be put into production. Sahfee's men's shampoo, shower gel and deodorant are still waiting for official approval.
Halal cosmetics is somewhat more expensive than regular cosmetics. The recommended price for a bottle of Sahfree shampoo is 3.50 euro. Driouech: "The costs are higher for us than for normal shampoo, because we must also pay for the certificate. Additionally some ingredients are also more expensive, because they are replaced by natural ingredients. You must also have an official statement of the ingredients, which again must be paid for."
Muslim scholar Mohammed Cheppih doesn't understand the fuss about halal cosmetics. Cheppih: "If you look at it from a theological perspective, the usage of shampoo and such products is not 'consuming'. According to Islam you may use alcohol in some cases, for example also as medicine. The danger is that those who don't have any knowledge, will think in terms of allowed and not allowed." He supposes they want to deal away with the chemical and then do something pretty according to the Islamic principles.
Labor parliament member Samira Bouchibti - known for her well-cared for appearance - also think that halal cosmetics is unnecessary. She uses animal-free products of natural ingredients. Bouchibti: "Because I think I'm obligated. Not for religious reasons, but for ethical reasons. Such a halal stamp is typical for present day Dutch society. On the one hand there's a fight with Islam, on the other hand there's a market of 850,000 Muslims. If enterpreneurs found a demand in the market, than they would spring on it. If people on the left or right prefer buying animal-friendly cosmetics, I would say: join the club."
Source: De Pers (Dutch)