Prohibited ingredients

Halal is an Arabic word which means permissible or lawful, by opposition to Haram which means prohibited. Therefore Halal (permitted) products are those that do not contain Haram (prohibited) ingredients. The list of products prohibited under the Islamic law (sharia) includes pork or pork by-products, animals that are dead or dying prior to slaughter, blood and blood by-products, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, land animals without external ears, ethanol...

As far as cosmetics are concerned, there are several ingredients that can be of concern to Muslim consumers eager to extend their respect of the Islamic law to this product category. Possibly problematic ingredients include: allantoin, ambergris, collagen, elastin, ethanol, gelatine, tallow and tallow derivatives, etc.

According to Organic Monitor, “the Halal label has been gaining popularity in the cosmetics industry since the Malaysian government introduced the Halal cosmetics standard (MS 2200: 2008) in June 2010.” The Halal label is given to cosmetic and personal care products that meet the Islamic religious rules, in particular regarding permitted and prohibited ingredients. It “appeals to Muslim consumers seeking integrity and authenticity in their cosmetic and personal care products.

Growing Asian demand

Depending on sources and their definition of what is a Halal cosmetic product, global annual sales of Halal cosmetics are estimated from 5 to 14 billion US dollars. Focusing on Halal-certified cosmetics, Organic Monitor considers global sales can be estimated at above USD 5 billion.

At present, 57 certification agencies are authorised to certify products according to the Halal cosmetics standard. Although the highest adoption rates are in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, certification is also catching on in Europe and North America. In the latter regions, a growing number of Muslim consumers are interested in Halal certified products,” says the market research firm.

Asia, which hosts more than 60% of the world’s Muslim population, is one of the first market for Halal cosmetics, together with the Middle East, (in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). “A growing number of cosmetic and ingredient firms are taking up Halal certification in Asia. The highest adoption rates are in Muslim countries where multinationals that include Colgate-Palmolive and Avon have launched certified products. International chemical firms like BASF and CP Kelco are also getting ingredients certified for these markets.

Ecological concerns

However, according to Organic Monitor, Halal personal care products often fall short in terms of their ecological credentials since, apart from ingredients prohibited by the sharia, the formulations are similar to conventional cosmetics.

Realising this, some companies have started to formulate natural / organic cosmetics with Halal certification. Saaf Pure Skincare was launched in the UK to appeal to Muslim consumers seeking organic skincare products that adhere to Sharia principles. The products are certified organic by the Soil Association and certified Halal by European Halal Services. The brand is developing an international presence, with products exported to Europe, the Middle-East and North America,” points out the market research firm.

Organic Monitor sees high potential for such products in the Middle-East and Asia. In many of these countries, the market for natural and organic cosmetics is growing by over 20% a year. Rising consumer affluence, coupled with growing knowledge of cosmetic ingredients, is making consumers pay a premium for cosmetics that meet their ethical and religious beliefs. However, with a lack of local brands of natural & organic cosmetics in these regions, there is a clear gap in the marketplace. “A major challenge is formulating cosmetic products that meet two or more standards, as many European brands have discovered.

The potential of halal cosmetics, and formulation challenges of developing natural and organic personal care products, will be featured in the Asia-Pacific edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit. Taking place in Hong Kong on 12-13th November 2012, the summit will discuss the growing role of labels (Halal, natural, organic, cruelty-free, etc.) in the Asian cosmetics industry.