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Published May 30, 2018
Published May 30, 2018
Ben Ostrower via Unsplash

Ethical consumerism, along with the growing Muslim population, continues to further the appeal of halal-certified beauty products. To better understand this untapped market, one would have to ask, “What exactly does halal certified mean when it comes to personal care products?”

Bringing clarity to this category was the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYSCC), who hosted an all-day event with qualified speakers on the topic, “Cosmetics in the Middle East: A Regulatory Perspective.”

It would be easy to say that there is a clear path to explain what halal-certified personal care products are, and how to qualify for a halal-certified formula, but there isn’t. Not today, anyway.

When referring to halal, as per the Islamic law, one would also have to refer to the term haram as well. In an easy definition, halal means “permissible” or lawful in traditional Islamic law. Haram, on the other hand, means “forbidden” in Islamic law.

Halal is generally termed when referencing food but can also filter out other day-to-day engagements like banking and relationships.

There are other intersecting lifestyle and religious references that “may” satisfy part of the halal requirements, such as kosher, vegan, animal cruelty-free, gluten-free, homeopathic, green and clean, and natural. All these specifications encompass what today’s consumer desires in their personal care products, whether they practice a specific religion or not.

While this market is still being defined, some of the reasons halal is going mainstream is because the requirements of the final personal care products offer an intentionally cleaner formula that embraces a healthy lifestyle, it does not source animal ingredients, and the materials used are not tested on animals.

When referencing halal, the Muslim religion and culture has specific requirements with how products can be used on, and taken into, the body.

Grey areas start to cloud product usage when religious laws state that what is allowable on the body, may not be allowable to be taken into the body. This becomes a bit tricky when, for example, drinking alcohol is haram, or forbidden, but a form of alcohol, like denatured ethanol alcohol, is halal and permissible to be used in personal care products.

Halal products must be certified, and lines start to blur when it comes to identifying halal-compliant agencies that can fulfill the standards specific to certifying halal personal care products.

Certifications are not broad-stroke seals. They can be applied only to the regional and geographical location of the certification request. Then, the certifying organization must have experience with certifying halal cosmetic and personal care products vs being qualified for certifying halal food products.

The requirements for cosmetics/beauty products are not the same as for food products. The manufacturer would need to assess the halal agency before the certification process starts. In the New York/New Jersey area, Mohamed Omer, a halal advocate and member of the NYSCC, has been helping the state of New Jersey and local manufacturers understand the process and select the right agencies to partner with.


There is potential for expansion in this category, as Mintel has forecasted the opportunity for potential growth, stating that Asia-Pacific accounted for 73 percent of new halal beauty products launched between 2014 to 2016.

According to Market Insights, global halal cosmetics market accounted for $12.6 billion in 2015 and the market is expected to reach $21.4 billion by the end of 2024. Further, the market is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.8 percent over the forecast period (i.e., 2016-2024).

While all of this may seem complicated, there are specific road maps emerging that can help navigate the process of developing and launching halal beauty products. For cosmetics, raw materials, as well as finished products, are subject to certification.

As a rule, during the halal certification process, the products should first meet all local guidelines in terms of safety purity and quality. For example, if the product is under FDA jurisdiction, it must meet first such guidelines and then be considered for halal certification.

The certification process typically starts with an application, followed by submission of the documents related to sourcing of all raw materials and is typically finalized with an onsite inspection. The onsite inspection considers factors like manufacturing, storage, packaging, and transportation of such products.

References on developing and certifying halal beauty products:


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