Caring for the Skin God Gave Us
I rushed to a sink to clean the balm from my lips. The balm that had faithfully kept my lips free from cracking in harsh Chicago winters. I glanced at the suds on my hands. My head began to whirl, trying to grasp the task at hand. I started making mental notes: lip balm, hand soap, deodorant, and lotion. My list of skincare products to check for halal status was quickly growing. I had known about halal as applied to food, dress, and personal character. But my lip balm, God cares about that also?
Blessings come from striving to obey our Creator, as I was reminded after that first experience. When we accept to abstain from pork and alcohol but resist to give up our favorite lip balm even though it contains haram [forbidden] ingredients, what message are we sending to God? Will we consent only when convenient? “And [yet], among the people are those who take other than God as equals [to Him]. They love them as they [should] love God” (Quran 2: 165). This verse applies not only to praying to or following a deity other than God, but to holding anything as more important than God’s will.
Why are some skincare products haram? I asked IFANCA Food Scientist Dr. Rafi Shaik, what are some ingredients Muslims need to be aware of that may be haram. The answer was both logical and shocking. Glycerin and alcohol by-products were two understandable ingredients of which to be mindful. Glycerin keeps our skin soft, smooth, and lubricated. Vegetable glycerin is halal, but beware of animal-derived glycerin.
And on to the shocking: I was stunned to learn from Dr. Shaik that human-derived stem cells are found in some skincare products, specifically, certain anti-aging products.
Selecting halal-certified skincare products can be effortless. Amara Cosmetics offers a complete line of IFANCA halal-certified cosmetics including liquid and powder foundation, blush and bronzer, eye shadow, lipstick, and lip gloss. Shamalia Mohamed, owner and founder of Amara, explained how she became interested in halal cosmetics and the difficulties in creating a natural, halal product.
“During my MBA, I had done a research paper on cosmetics and started to learn about the different contents that go into developing formulas for cosmetics and I came to realize that a lot of the contents are not permissible for Muslims. From there I was very determined to create a makeup brand that is targeted to Muslim women, or anyone who desires to use products that are all natural. It was very challenging in the beginning, but after working with several chemists we created Amara Halal Cosmetics. They are made from natural ingredients that are extracted from plants, not animals, and are paraben-free, gluten-free, petrochemicals-free, and vegan friendly.”
Hina Razvi, a children’s book author, can attest to the need for natural products. “There came a time in my late twenties when my skin became very sensitive and I actually needed to maintain my skin. I noticed that some of the chemical-filled products were abrasive and irritating. I always knew that all-natural is better, since we are pretty particular with that in terms of the food we eat [as Muslims], so I transferred it to other things as well. Once I started using the all-natural products, I noticed a difference right away!”
By being part of an organic coop, Fizza Hussain Razvi, a graduate student in mental health counseling, was able to easily find halal soaps, lotions, shampoos, and skincare products. How did she come to this simple solution without necessarily having to rely on hours of internet searches and contacting manufacturers? “I am a curious person and make it my business to educate myself about everything around me, especially when it comes to religious and spiritual matters. It was many years ago that I started reading up on what goes into things I eat, wear, or use on my body.” Razvi continues, “This opened many doors of information at a time when most people did not have any idea that animal products are used in skin care products.”
Whether purchasing halal skincare products through a local coop, natural store, or directly through a company’s website, halal options are more available than we may realize. You can buy Amara Cosmetics from their website, www.amaracosmetics.com, and you can find more halal-certified skincare products by visiting www.ifanca.org. Just click the Certified Products tab and search for Cosmetics or Personal Care Products.
Suzann Audi earned her master’s degree in food science from Kansas State University. She lives in Illinois and enjoys volunteering at her mosque and children’s school.
IFANCA® has certified a number of personal care and cosmetics products. In addition to Amara brand products, Sunrider International has a full line of cosmetics including lip gloss, eyeshadow, foundation, nail lacquer, as well as lotions and gels. Tom’s of Maine offers a line of dental and personal hygiene products. Aloe Vera of America, Inc. offers lotion, shampoo, and scrub; CC Pollen offers masques; 4Life Research offers lotions and creams; Melaleuca, Inc. offers soaps, body washes, scrubs, shampoos, lotions, creams, and lip balms; Usana Health Science, Inc. offers skin care products and shampoos; and XanGo LLC offers creams and lotions. All the products are halal-certified by IFANCA. Look for the Crescent-M symbol on the labels. Please note not all of these products are available in every market. Check the website for regional availability. [IFANCA]