Purely ethical

What would you say to a
plate of petroleum-derived chemicals, along with a side of rusted lead?
Probably a polite, “no thank you”, but the funny reality is that most
women add toxic chemicals to their diet every day, simply by wearing
lipstick and other make-up.


Studies show that women can eat up to several tonnes of lipstick during
their lifetime. A concerning 5lb of chemicals per year are said to be
absorbed into the body as a result of make up, while up to 60 per cent
of what we put on our skin is absorbed into the body. It seems that
looking good on the outside has never been so hazardous for our health
and wellbeing.

That’s why, Doctor Mah Hussain-Gambles, a homeopath, pharmacologist and
founder and formulator of Saaf Pure Skincare, decided that it was high
time to create an effective, yet totally organic and ethical skincare
range.  Doctor Mah’s Saaf Pure Skincare range will be available to buy
in Dubai by the end of this week at the Organic Foods and Café, and not
only does the range contain purely organic ingredients, it’s halal too.

Using her background in pharmacology (the study of the effect of drugs
in the body and on the skin), drug formulation development and
homeopathy, Doctor Mah sources rare beneficial oils from all over the
world to create Saaf (meaning ‘pure’ in Persian) products.

“Saaf products are tested to comply with strict European Union
Cosmetics Safety Regulations. They are also Organic Soil Association
certified, meaning that the ingredients and the final products do not
undergo any chemical processing during production. All of our raw
materials are bio-degradable, free from GMOs and the crops are rotated
so that the land is not depleted of nutrients,” says Doctor Mah.

“Our packaging is made from sustainable resources and is recyclable;
our sales literature is printed on recycled paper, using vegetable
based inks, and we donate ten per cent of our profits to charitable and
environmental causes – which makes our business model utterly ethical.”
Doctor Mah, who is currently based in the UK, initially started her
range of organic skincare products for personal reasons – as her twin
daughters have very sensitive skin and seem to be allergic to most
synthetic ingredients.

The halal angle to Saaf products began when her husband Malcolm, who
converted to Islam, pointed out that he found it a paradox that Muslims
shouldn’t drink alcohol, yet many of their dressing tables are
cluttered skincare and haircare products, containing alcohol. Doctor
Mah was then encouraged to look into creating halal skincare products.

“I have been researching halal through consultations with Muslim
scholars and by obtaining references directly from the Quran for over
four years now,” says Doctor Mah. “To me personally, halal equates to
not harming animals, the human body, our environment and our fellow

Doctor Mah points out that even scientifically speaking, alcohol is bad
for the skin, as it dehydrates the cells and is usually used as a
preservative in ‘natural’ skincare. “If it kills the bugs in your
creams, then imagine what it does to your skin,” exclaims Doctor Mah.

Putting halal into practice with her skincare range, Doctor Mah looks
vigilantly at every ingredient to see if alcohol was used at any stage
during the manufacture. All her products’ ingredients are reviewed by
the Halal Food and Cosmetic Consultancy panel, based in the UK, and
when approved, the next stage is an audit of the factory by an Imam to
ensure that alcohol was not used to clean the pipes, equipment or as
hand sanitisers during the manufacturing of Saaf products.

It may sound extreme, but as Doctor Mah says, “When you are making
claims such as halal, you can’t cut corners.” Doctor Mah may not
believe in cutting corners, but she has no problem moving to a new
corner of the world. In fact a re-location to Dubai is high on her

“My husband loves good quality steaks, and Dubai has Halal Aberdeen
Angus steaks, so he has no problem moving,” says Doctor Mah, who also
believes that being based in such a strategically placed trade location
would ensure getting her eco-ethical message out to a Middle Eastern
audience a lot quicker. “Also if I can license the manufacturing in the
UAE, then this would mean less of a carbon footprint for Saaf
International, as the products could be made locally, and not have to
be transported from the other side of the world,” she adds.

For the moment Saaf skincare range can be found from this week onwards
at Organic Foods and Café at The Greens or in Satwa. For more
information contact 04 398 9410 or 04 361 7974.

The Best natural ingredients for the skin, according to Mah 

Mustard Seed oil is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a hair tonic, and
when you look at its constituents, you’ll find it’s very rich in
selenium and zinc (lack of which has been linked to hair loss),
beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as iron, magnesium,
calcium, zinc, manganese and niacin.

Mah’s personal favourites are Black Seed oil and Rosehip seed oil. They
have been researched for many years and are proven to have amazing
youth enhancing properties, due to naturally high levels of
anti-oxidants, minerals and Vitamins A, C and E.

Safflower oil and Jojoba oil are great because they are very light
oils, are easily absorbed into the skin and don’t leave an oily residue
behind. They are also very rich in Omega oils and can soothe skin
irritations, itchiness and are particularly good for sensitive skin.