Some of the most hotly tipped growth markets for beauty and personal care have majority Muslim populations. Unsurprisingly, sales of Halal cosmetics are booming in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while opportunities abound in emerging Asian market Malaysia.
Unlike Halal food, which is a must for practicing Muslims, the use of Halal cosmetics (which omit alcohol and derivatives from banned animals) is not enforced under Islam, and not all Muslims insist upon using only Halal cosmetics. That said, it does make sense for manufacturers to provide options for those that do, not to mention for consumers who would choose Halal over non-Halal if given the option.
Most brands messaging on Halal are small to medium sized enterprises, such as Amara Halal Cosmetics (US), Crescent Soaps (UK, which even has Halal packaging), Anada (Thailand), Aa Bai Qi and Triumph (China) and Halal Products (India). Others, like Saaf Pure Skincare, are proudly Halal but message more on their naturalness. Indeed, many brands seek to put Halal certification alongside the list of other accreditations, including natural, organic and vegan certification; in eschewing animal-based ingredients and banned animal-based ingredients, respectively, vegan and Halal cosmetics are frequently natural bedfellows.
And it’s not just brands based in predominantly Muslim countries or those with Muslim founders that are complying with Islamic law. Irish seaweed brand Voya, for instance, acquired Halal certification from the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) in 2013.
At present, to this author’s knowledge, no big multinational beauty and personal care brand offers a specific Halal range (if any do, please come forward!). That said, some do manufacture products whose formulations are considered Halal and the US’s Muslim Consumer Group has a fairly comprehensive guide on its website.
Helpfully, suppliers are responding to this increasing demand for Halal cosmetics. For example, cosmetics ingredients manufactured at Croda’s Rawcliffe Bridge site in the UK are now approved Halal, while Evonik has ensured that its plants in Essen and Duisburg are classified as ‘tahir’ or pure in accordance with Islamic law.
As with the natural/organic and fairtrade movements, certification could become a minefield in future as instances of Halal cosmetics rise. In the EU and US, certification is currently carried out by third parties, such as the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America and there is a lack of standardisation between bodies and regions.
Another issue is the cost of manufacture; for instance, ‘Haram’ alcohol is usually used in fragrance extraction as it is inexpensive, and it is costly to remove sodium tallowate, or animal fat, from soaps, which a Halal brand might need to do if outsourcing production, as manufacturers often use this ingredient without stipulating how that animal was killed.
Nevertheless, despite the above caveats, strong demand for Halal cosmetics in Asia and the MEA region, coupled with rising usage among consumers in western markets mean this is a market niche to watch closely.
Julia Wray is Editor of Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics (SPC) Magazine, SPC Asia, and SPC China.
Soap, Perfumery & Cosmetics (SPC) are the official media partners for the Innovation Seminar presentations taking place at in-cosmetics 2015, 14-16 April. Click here to view the full Innovation Seminar schedule.