The cosmetics and personal care sectors are responding to a growing demand from consumers for eco-certification (organic, natural, free of animal experimentation). In recent years demand for the “halal” designation has also grown greatly, specifically from Muslim consumers who are concerned about the health and appearance of their skin.
“Halal” is an Arabic word that means “permitted”, which is to say, legal according to the Sharia, or Islamic law. It is generally applied to meats and other foods, and most especially to chemical products and ingredients. Halal products must be certified as such by one of the 57 agencies in the world responsible for issuing these certificates. According to the Sharia, a halal cosmetic may not contain alcohol, genetically modified or irradiated organisms, ingredients of human origin or derived from animals prohibited to Muslims or any other product which could be harmful to consumers. Products should, moreover, be produced, packaged and stored in such a way that there is no contact with any “impure” elements. Muslims account for 20% of the world population and so represent a major consumer segment for leading companies in the sector, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Avon, which already manufacture halal products, and BASF, which supplies halal-certified ingredients. This growing sector is already annually worth some 5,000 million USD in sales.