Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Makeup gets a halal makeover

A Muslim businesswoman has launched Britain's first range of halal make-up, free from alcohol and animal products.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM REUTERS - Samina Akhter is the first woman to launch Britain's first range of halal make-up, free from alcohol and animal products.

Under Islamic law, alcohol and certain meats are forbidden. Pork especially is taboo, so Akhter was shocked to learn that some of the products she used contained fatty acids and gelatin from pigs. She set up Samina Pure Make-up from her home in Birmingham after questioning the ingredients of many High Street make-up products.

"As a Muslim myself, I, you know this has been on my conscience if you like where I have been using high street products, makeup products and I started thinking, well what is actually in these products? And when I started looking into it I realised many do contain ingredients that are not permissible to Muslims to eat and I just started thinking, well if it's not permissible to eat, then why should I put it on my face? What you put on your face does actually absorb to your body. So I didn't feel very comfortable using products on my face which could possibly come from you know pig, or other sources, or alcohol, so that's really where the idea started from," said Akhter.

The range named after the Briton is mainly sold online with items starting from around 8 pounds (12.50 U.S dollars). Akhter also enlists the help of her sister, Mizbah Zaib, a trained makeup artist, together they attend events and roadshows promoting the products.

Consumers can purchase items like foundation, blusher eyeshadows and lipsticks. But mascara is still unavailable as the process of making a halal version is still being looked into.
In keeping with Islamic law, Akhter's makeup is made from plant extracts, minerals, essential oils and vitamins, and her products are free from parabens.

The business received halal accreditation in early June, which means the independent Halal Certification Authority Australia assesses the source of the product. They work directly with the manufacturers who are based in Australia and Europe ensuring everything is within the boundaries of Islamic law.

Due to the halal range also being free from chemicals and described by Akhter as 'pure', the makeup is also popular with vegans and vegetarians.

"Having said that a lot of our business has come from Non-Muslims, so you know a lot of women have appreciated and realised, you know vegans, vegetarians, have been very interested and purchased our products also," said Akhter.

But for those who are critical of Akhter exploiting a religious concept, she said there is a demand for halal makeup.

"The reaction I've had from women so far has been so positive and encouraging and I really feel that this product has given something to, it has actually filled a gap in the market. So it's not a case of trying to cash in. It's a case of providing people with something they're looking for," she said.
Akhter has more than 500 customers, and interest from the range has been shown as far as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East.

The British based entrepreneur is now looking to break into foreign markets and sell her products in UK pharmacies and shops.