Cosmetic companies have unleashed a new trend that has been gaining
wild popularity in the Middle East. The large, untapped market of halal
cosmetics – only in the Middle East – total to almost $600 million in
value. This much-hyped phenomenon is touted to expand further in the
A 2008 survey conducted by Messe Frankfurt estimated that annually some
$150 million halal merchandise is sold across the United Arab Emirates
alone, the bulk of which comprise skin care products, according to the
Halal Journal of Malaysia. Forecasts quoted by the Halal Journal state
that the halal industry is expected to grow at a rate of 12 percent.
Tapping in on the heightened interest generated by halal products,
United Kingdom-based halal cosmetics company, Saaf Pure Skincare,
recently signed a marketing contract to expand its venture into Kuwait
and other Gulf countries. According to Dr Mah Hussain-Gambles, Chief
Executive of Saaf Pure Skincare and founder of her own halal skincare
brand, her organization is still trying to secure dealership for their
products in Kuwait and the among other GCC countries.
Currently, Saaf Pure Skincare distributes its products to some 11
destinations in Europe, the US and the Far East, and has recently
signed a marketing agreement with a UK-based company for the GCC. “We
are hopeful that soon we will have a greater presence in the GCC,” she
How it all started
Saaf Pure Skincare, the first halal consultancy in Europe that provides
skincare advice was launched in 2004 in Europe and the United States.
“I believe in proof, and I think people have to be careful to stay away
from doubtful materials. Also, many chemicals are harmful to us. So, we
should choose safe products,” says Hussain-Gambles.
In a telephonic interview conducted from the UK, she explained how the
concept of halal skincare was conceived. “Well, actually it was my
husband’s idea. Being a new convert to Islam, he (Malcolm Amir) was
looking at my cosmetics collection one day and pointed out that my
favorite toner had so much alcohol in it. He found it hypocritical that
I didn’t drink alcohol but didn’t think twice about using alcohol-based
cosmetics on my skin, considering up to 60 percent of what you put on
your skin gets absorbed
into your body,” she said. “Being a Muslim who was brought up in
Europe, it’s easy to sometimes overlook lifestyle products that are
The journey to find gentler ways of restoring the natural balance of
the body is hidden in the healing power of natural remedies. It is
combined with her orthodox training in pharmacology and evidence-based
medicine, Hussain-Gambles says, are at the very heart of Saaf Pure
Skincare. With many years of treating clients homeopathically,
Hussain-Gambles says, she has personally witnessed the benefits of
combining ancient knowledge with modern science to create highly
effective skincare solutions that work syn
ergistically with the skin.
In order to make sure that the skin products are really halal, they
must be certified by a third party organization, says Hussain-Gambles,
who is currently working as an advisor to International Halal
Integration. Alliance and the Halal Development Corporation are bodies
that ensure the products are halal-compliant.
Saaf Pure Skincare has both organic and vegetarian certification, and
is not tested on animals. What is different about halal cosmetics? “I
guess if a product is manufactured in a Muslim country then, by
default, it could be halal. However, many companies follow the policy
of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – European guideline which
suggests using alcohol as a sanitizer for equipment, pipes and even
hand sanitizers,” Hussain-Gambles says and adds. “I used to buy my rose
essential oil from a Muslim count
ry until I looked at how it was extracted and the chemical is used for extraction; I personally would not consider it halal.
According to her, only steam- distilled essential oils are used in Saaf
Pure Skincare. “Ingredients can be very complicated, even for myself as
a chemist, to ascertain whether they can be classed as halal or not.
For me, personally halal should be about purity, and not harming the
body,” she said. “It is no longer viable for companies to say that
their products are ‘halal,’ intelligent consumers are now asking for
proof, which can only be obtained if the products are ‘certified’ by
independent parties. Saaf Pure Skincare is organic, vegan and
cruelty-free certified. Having the products halal certified by UK Halal
Consultancy gave our Muslim consumers further confidence,” she says.
The products used in Saaf Pure Skincare are UK manufactured and are
compliant with European Union Cosmetics Safety Regulations, “in my
opinion the strictest regulations in the world,” she explained.
Also, in order to ensure the ingredients used in her products are
halal, she consults the board of the UK Halal Consultancy
(www.halalconsultancy.co.uk), which consists of an Imam and a medical
doctor, as well as scientists.
Canadian convert Layla Mandi founded the Dubai-based OnePure company
for halal cosmetics. She explained, “OnePure is a luxury skincare
company which is also the only halal skincare company that is halal
certified by an authorized halal certification agency(as opposed to a
consultancy) and we are so proud to offer Muslims all over the world
the security of such a product”.
The story of OnePure, she observes, is a story of personal need. “I
converted to Islam and didn’t want to have any haram ingredients in the
products I used, as I learned that my prayers would not be accepted. So
I spent time looking for halal products and there weren’t any! And that
is how I decided to do it myself. Most ideas in the world are first
created by a personal need,” she said.
She explained, “Halal cosmetics do not contain any haram ingredients
and are certified to be halal-just like certification of food so that
Muslims know that the product they are buying are okay for them,” says
Mandi. Currently, OnePure has 14 products of skincare and will be
adding body care very soon.
OnePure cosmetics is certified by the Department of Islamic
Development, Malaysia known as Jakim. “Jakim is the official halal
certification body in Malaysia who comes to our factory and inspects
every aspect of production to ensure a pure product before they certify
it as halal,” said Mandi.
Although OnePure does not have a store in Kuwait they have customers
who have ordered their products from the company’s website. “We are
working on having a global launch at the end of the year and the
products will be made available to more Muslims worldwide,” she said.