Halal cosmetics arrive as idea and product. Jain sisters offering halal products? Ones free of pig fat, gelatin, keratin and other animal-derived ingredients, alcohol and harsh chemicals such as sulphates and parabens? Well, the word halal in a broader term means ‘permissible’ and it’s that what inspired Mauli Teli, 32, and her sister Grishma, 28, to launch their first-of-its kind beauty range in 2014, calling in Iba Halal Care.

Before they knew it, the cosmetics had become all the rage in Ahmedabad. “Yes, the lipsticks aren’t long-lasting, but that’s because it is shea butter you are using, not lead,” says Farin Jafri, a make-up artiste from Ahmedabad. Word has reached the metros too and the finicky organic-only types are fast warming up to the idea.

After organic and vegan food, the wave seems to have reached the beauty industry as well. Celebs like Miranda Kerr touting all-natural makeup and skin care has also helped. Halal cosmetics are composed mostly of natural ingredients, like rose petals, fruits of heaven (a blend of pomegranate, dates, fig and grape extract), kalonji oil, olive oil, multani mitti, vegetable butters and vitamins.

The Arabian Oudh attars seem to have come straight out of your kitchen cabinets. The range of toiletries like multani mitti soap, face wash and foot massage cream also have pink hijab-clad women on the labels tendering advice on how to get rid of those nagging blemishes.

Needless to say, Iba’s products are a heaven-sent for the modern Indian Muslim woman. For instance, Tazeen, 26, a former air hostess, doesn’t use nail paint from any of the commercially produced top brands in case it interferes with her namaz rituals. Nowadays she swears by Iba’s lipsticks, creams and attars, claiming they are chemical-free and can be used in the long-run. She has even recommended them to her sisters and uncles.

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“Our brand needed to stand for something unique, address an unmet need,” says Mauli. Ergo Iba Halal Care. Halal cosmetics, originally aimed at Muslim women, are already popular in the US and UK, with youngsters swearing by Amara Halal Cosmetics and Crescent soaps.

The concept is yet to take full flight in India, but Iba Halal Care has already joined the league of Kelloggs, Haldiram’s and Taj Caterers that are all halal-certified. According to industry-watchers, the market for such products, including food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and services, is expected to grow from $1.62 trillion in 2012 to $2.47 trillion in 2018.

So, why halal over other herbal or even ayurvedic products? Is it just a branding gimmick to attract Muslim girls? Mauli, an engineer by profession, explains it thus: “Being entrepreneurs, my sister and I wanted to launch our own brand. The Indian market is crowded with products and dominated by MNC brands. So our brand would need to stand for something unique, address an unmet need. On researching and meeting consumers and thought leaders across India, we found a strong relevance of halal in cosmetics.” And yes, they are different from the ayur­vedic ones because they are vegan, using “no milk, no wax, no honey”.

At cosmetic shops in Ahmedabad as well as on online stores, the clientele is mixed, but the products are a big hit among women professionals. “Many who visit our store or website for the first time have a limited understanding of halal, but once they understand the philosophy and come to know that our products are vegan and devoid of harsh chemicals, they show a keen interest in trying out our products,” says Grishma.

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But production costs are high and with the market for such products still comparatively niche, the sisters believe it’ll take a while before India truly gets ‘hooked’ to halal cosmetics. With grey juice from charcoal being the latest addition to the beauty range for glowing skin, the market for organic, natural and halal cosmetics is headed in a definitive green direction.

Firms from Gujarat, especially those in the food processing sector, top the list of companies who have got “Halal Certifications” and are eyeing the growing consumer segment that wants to buy ethically made products and services. Of the 650 Halal certifications issued by Halal India Certification Body – a four-year-old a private certifying organisation – more than 300 companies from Gujarat got it.

“Around 60 per cent of the companies that we have given Halal certification to are from Gujarat and a significant number are into food manufacturing sector. Ahmedabad is home to some of these big companies that offer halal-certified products and services in India,” said Mohd Meeran Sultan, Director of Halal Certification India who was in the city recently to launch a “Halal-certified” brand of cosmetics.

“Among companies from Gujarat that have come to us for certification include Tata Salt, agro processing and trading firm Gujarat Ambuja Exports Limited, Vadilal Ice-creams, Fortune Oil among others. Around 99% of our clients who own these firms are non-Muslims.

Among some of the other big brands that have halal certification include Kelloggs, Haldiram’s, Daawat Basmati Rice, Taj Caterers. Countries from the Middle East, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, Brazil and Japan that have a sizeable Muslim population are now looking at halal-certified products and services,” said he added. The word Halal derives from Arabic a word which means “denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law”.

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Mauli Teli, CEO and MD at Ecotrail Personal Care, that launched India’s first Halal Cosmetics brand “Iba” in Ahmedabad last week, said, “Halal is not just for food, but it is about ethics and a way of life that means pure. We have launched this new category with the understanding that ‘halal’ market is growing immensely in India. Our products are targeted at those women who are not wanting to compromise their belief system and yet be part of the modern world and use products that are equally safe.

Being a new product category, we have started with two stores and will be launching more stores in Gujarat and other national cities soon.” The Halal Certification India is one of the many halal certification bodies in India that work in tandem with the Shariah Boards and has tie-ups with over 140 Islamic organisations and presence in over 120 countries.

“Firms seeking Halal certification have to adhere to certain norms like using no animal derivatives in manufacturing processes, no alcohol, no animal testing, no harsh chemicals and no child labour, for which we check the facilities twice in a year. Usually firm that come to us cater to global markets at large and we provide a platform to link them with these markets. We certify that all the Shariah components are to be followed and pass all our compliances past the Shariah board,” Sultan added. #KhabarLive


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