Finding the right balance between faith and beauty can sometimes be a tricky proposition for Muslim women. Many believers fear that mainstream cosmetic products might contain alcohol or by-products derived from animals forbidden by Islam.
Makeup also interferes with wudu, the ritual washing performed before prayers, which are observed five times in a day.
But now a Gujarat-based startup has launched a halal (lawful) cosmetic range—among the first of its kind in the country—that contains only vegetable and fruit extracts.
“We came to know about a huge demand for halal cosmetics in Southeast Asia and the Middle East,” said Dilip Vadgama, chief operating officer of EcoTrail Personal Care. “But India has the world’s second-largest Muslim population and there was not a single halal cosmetic brand.”
The products are also wudu-friendly because they can be washed away quickly with water, explained Vadgama.
Halal makeup is a small but fast-growing consumer segment. The global halal cosmetics and personal care market is valued at $18.33 billion, according to research firm TechNavio, as part of an overall cosmetic market worth $464 billion, but halal makeup is projected to grow at 13% annually. Malaysia, Indonesia, and Pakistan are seeing huge demand for halal cosmetics thanks to a fast-growing Muslim middle class.
The two-year-old EcoTrail has over 60 products in its portfolio, which are only available in Ahmedabad currently. Vadgama says they’ll be available on Amazon India in a month, ready to be shipped nationwide. The pricing is targeted at the middle-class: Rs 195 for the lipstick and Rs 100 for face wash.
They are also developing permeable nail paints, which would allow moisture to penetrate to the nail, and therefore will not invalidate wudu. Such breathable enamels were first created by a Polish cosmetic brand Inglot and have become a rage in recent years in many predominantly Muslim countries, a happy accident for the European company that was not targeting Muslim consumers initially.
“Muslims in India travel abroad and they come across such products in Saudi Arabia or Southeast Asia and they want them here too,” said Vadgama.
But there are challenges. Lack of awareness and limited access are two of the main problems, and the absence of an authentic global certification body also makes these products less credible.
“There is no overarching organisation that governs halal certification for cosmetic products, leading to various countries developing their own standards. Additionally, different sects of Islam have their own definitions of Halal so developing standards has been a stunted process,” TechNavio said in its latest report.