Cosmetics and personal care products are a part and parcel of our daily lives. These include baby products, bath products, oral care products, skin care products, personal hygiene products, perfumes, deodorants and makeup. Cosmetics and personal care products must comply with government safety regulations. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics by their intended use as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body… for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)]. Among products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, nail polishes, eye and facial makeup, shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, toothpastes and deodorants, as well as other materials intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. Some products meet the definitions of both cosmetics and drugs. This may happen when a product has two intended uses. For instance, a shampoo is a cosmetic because its intended use is to clean hair. An anti-dandruff treatment is a drug because its intended use is the treatment of dandruff. Consequently, an anti-dandruff shampoo is both a cosmetic and a drug (FDA 2002). FDA considers toothpaste as both a cosmetic and a drug because most toothpastes contain fluoride that is used to prevent tooth decay. However, FD&C Act Section 201(i)(2) excludes soap from the definition of a cosmetic. Health Canada (2008) defines cosmetics as products that clean, improve and/ or alter skin complexion, hair or teeth. All cosmetics sold to the public must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the Cosmetic Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act.

Historically, plant based products have been used for cleaning, moisturizing, covering up blemishes and even treating minor skin conditions. Currently available skin care products are a concoction of several ingredients, some good, others questionable. For halal consumers, cosmetics and personal care products do present some challenges because they contain ingredients that make them questionable or Mashbooh.

Here is an analysis of personal care products and their composition. A majority of these products include botanical ingredients. A botanical ingredient is a component of a cosmetic or personal care product that originates from plants (herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, leaves or seeds). Botanical ingredients are naturally halal, unless mixed with ingredients of animal origin. Some commonly used ingredients are discussed here.

Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Alcohol and Behenyl Alcohol are white, waxy solids, not related to ethyl alcohol. Cetyl Alcohol and Stearyl Alcohol are two major components of Cetearyl Alcohol. These ingredients are all fatty alcohols and occur naturally in small quantities in plants and animals. They are commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products, especially in skin lotions and creams. Dimethicone and Methicone, both silicone based polymers, are also considered halal, and used as anti-foaming agents or skin conditioning agents.

Ethyl alcohol or common alcohol, when used in non-food products, in most countries including the United States, is denatured alcohol. This means that a small amount of denaturant is added to the alcohol to make it taste bad. Alcohol Denat. is the general name used for denatured alcohol. Specific denatured alcohols that are permitted for use in cosmetics and personal care products include Specially Denatured (SD) Alcohol. Alcohol and Alcohol Denat. are used in many products including makeup, lotions, fragrance, shaving products, oral care, skin and hair care products.

Isopropyl Alcohol is widely used in cosmetic and personal care products and can be found in nail, hair and skin care products including aftershave lotions, bath products, eye makeup and cleansing products.

All the above products with names ending in alcohol are not orally consumable products. They have no relation to Khamr, the common intoxicating alcoholic drink, and hence they are halal for use in skin care products.

Glyceryl Stearate acts as a lubricant on the skin’s surface, and gives the skin a soft and smooth appearance. Glyceryl Stearate is made by reacting glycerine with stearic acid, a fatty acid obtained from animal and vegetable fats and oils. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Stearates are esters of polyethylene glycol and stearic acid. PEG Stearates are used in skin creams, conditioners, shampoos, body cleansers and soapless detergents. Sorbitan Stearates, Sorbitan Laurate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Sorbitan Oleate, Sorbitan Tristearate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Sorbitan Trioleate are used in a variety of products including skin care products, skin cleansing products, moisturizers, eye makeup and other makeup. These Sorbitan Esters are produced by reacting the polyol, sorbitol, with fatty acids. Obviously, animal derived ingredients are questionable and must be avoided. These ingredients are Mashbooh, and must be further investigated by calling manufacturers.

Butylene Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol and Dipropylene Glycol are clear, practically colorless, liquids. These ingredients are used in the formulation of hair and bath products, eye and facial makeup, fragrances, personal cleanliness products, shaving and skin care products. There are no halal concerns about these products.

Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that can be obtained from natural sources or can be synthesized. Glycerin may be found in soaps, toothpaste, shaving cream, eyebrow pencils, lip colors, and skin and hair care products. Glycerin, also referred to as Glycerol, is a component of all animal and vegetable fats and oils. It can also be synthesized from carbohydrate materials or from substances such as petroleum. Vegetable derived glycerin and synthetic glycerin are considered halal. Consumers need to ask manufacturers whether Glycerin in a product is vegetable or animal based.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate are used in the formulation of shampoos, bath products, and skin cleansing products but can also be found in other types of products. These ingredients exhibit a high degree of foaming and impart “softness” to the skin. Both ingredients are Mashbooh, as are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate.

Collagen is used in many personal care products such as skin care and anti-aging creams. It is made from animal hides including pigs and may be labeled as hydrolyzed animal protein. Products containing collagen and hydrolyzed animal protein must be avoided.

Ozokerite, Ceresin and Montan Wax are mineral waxes, derived from coal and shale. Paraffin and Microcrystalline Wax are derived from petroleum. Emulsifying Wax and Synthetic Beeswax are manufactured waxes. These waxes are used in many types of products including lipsticks, baby products, eye and facial makeup, as well as nail care, skin care, suntan lotion, sunscreen, fragrances and non-coloring hair preparations. Ozokerite is a naturally occurring fossil wax found near soft shale. Most of the Ozokerite used in commercial applications is mined in Eastern Europe. It hardens on aging and its hardness varies according to its source and refinement. Ceresin is a white to yellow waxy mixture of hydrocarbons obtained by purification of Ozokerite. Montan Wax is a wax obtained by extraction of lignite (woody coals). Paraff in and Microcrystalline Wax are distillation products of petroleum. Emulsifying Wax is made from a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohol and polyoxyethylene derivatives of fatty acid esters of sorbitan. Synthetic Wax is a blend of low molecular weight polymers of ethylene. Synthetic Beeswax is a blend of fatty esters, fatty acids, fatty alcohols, and high molecular weight hydrocarbons. The properties of Synthetic Beeswax resemble beeswax. Since Synthetic Beeswax contains some critical ingredients, it becomes Mashbooh.

IFANCA certifies some companies that produce halal certified personal care products such as Tom’s of Maine products that carry the IFANCA Crescent M halal logo. Sunrider International, Aloe Corp., At Last Naturals, and USANA Health Sciences all manufacture a large number of halal certified cosmetic products. These are listed on the IFANCA website IFANCA ensures that companies that receive halal certification meet required halal guidelines.


Q & A with IFANCA Religious Advisor’s Sheikh Quaderi and Dr. Ahmad Sakr

Q: Are Muslims permitted to use cosmetics and beauty products?

Sheikh Quaderi: Use of cosmetics and makeup that has been determined to be halal is permissible for women to wear if it is done in a manner that does not attract undue attention. When make-up is done in a manner that makes a person self-confident and pleasant (in appearance); and does not convey the impression of bad taste or negligence when it comes to appearance, it is permissible. But wearing excessive make-up, that attracts undue attention from others is not allowed. [God knows best]


Q: Can we pray with nail polish on, if it has been applied after making the ablution (Wudu)?

Sheikh Quaderi: It is lawful to pray with nail polish on if one paints one’s nails after making ablution provided that the polish itself does not contain anything impure or forbidden by Sharia or Islamic law. However, if one makes ablution after nail polish has been applied, the ablution would not be complete, because nail polish keeps water from reaching the organ (nail) that needs to be ritually cleansed. [God knows best]


Q: What about creams and other skin care products? Is their use permitted and can one make the ablution after applying cream?

Sheikh Quaderi: Creams, lotions and similar products are modern versions of oils intended to keep the skin healthy and pliable and to prevent dry skin. So there is no prohibition against the use of such products as long as they are free from Haram (not lawful for Muslims) or Mashbooh ingredients. As far as making ablution (Wudu or Ghusl) after applying such a product, you have to know exactly what type of product you are using. They are two types; one that leaves a perceptible layer on the skin and the other that washes off easily. The first kind, such as lipstick, leaves a perceptible layer on the skin, and prevents water from getting to the skin or the organs that should be washed during ablution (or Ghusl). It must then be removed. The second kind is a cream or color that does not leave any perceptible layer on the skin but becomes part of the skin like henna or oil that doesn’t prevent water from reaching the skin. It is not obligatory to remove such a product before one makes the ablution. [God knows best]


Q: How about the use of facial medicines such as anti-aging creams or anti-wrinkle products or even plastic surgery? Are those permitted in Islam?

Sheikh Quaderi: There is no harm in using halal products that help revive and beautify the skin, especially if there is a need for doing so. But this should not include completely shaving the beard or removing the hair of the eyebrows as these are forbidden by sound evidence. In addition, it should not have any known bad side effects or be harmful. Similarly, plastic surgery that involves changing the normal body formation simply for the purpose of beautifying oneself, is not allowed. It is permissible, however, when it is done for the correction of a defect. [God knows best]


Q: How should a Muslim consumer select halal products?

Dr. Ahmad Sakr: Muslims must always read product labels before buying any cosmetic or personal care product. The permission to use personal care products and cosmetics depends on the origin of their ingredients. If these ingredients are pure then they are permissible, so long as their use does not cause any harm, either to one’s health or socially. However, if they are composed of impure substances like porcine collagen, gelatin or hydrolyzed animal protein, or other similar impure constituents, they are prohibited. [God knows best]



  • FDA 2002. Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? CFSAN/Office of Cosmetics and Colors; July 08, 2002. (URL:
  • Health Canada 2008. Consumer Product Safety / Personal Products. (URL: