As a teenager, I dreamed of having the same beautifully painted nails as the other girls around me. I remember staring at their perfectly shaped nails decked out in pretty colors and patterns. Meanwhile, I kept a container full of barely used polishes in my dresser drawer, never able to fully indulge in my obsession.
Having painted nails at all times just wasn’t an option for me. As a Muslim, wearing nail polish during the five daily obligatory prayers is prohibited. That’s because it disturbs the practice of ablution—the process of cleansing the body with water—which is required to complete prayers. Polish blocks water from reaching the nail, deeming the ablution process incomplete.
That means I’d either have to apply and remove my polish five times a day or skip the prayers altogether—both totally unviable scenarios for me. Instead, I let my stash of untouched lacquers grow, like some fancy collector’s edition toys still in their box.
“As a Muslim, wearing nail polish during the five daily obligatory prayers is prohibited. That’s because it disturbs the practice of ablution, the process of cleansing the body with water.”
So when I found out there was such a thing as halal nail polish, it seemed too good to be true. The discovery sent me into a research frenzy, where I learned the “breathable” formulas let water and oxygen pass through to the nail. That meant they were suitable for ablution and could be worn during prayers.
But nail polish is just the tip of the halal beauty iceberg. The industry, which now includes makeup and skincare, appears to be experiencing a growth spurt. Halal beauty brands offer cruelty-free, ethically made cosmetics that don’t contain any ingredients that are inadmissible, or haram, in Islam. This includes ingredients commonly found in beauty products like carmine (crushed up insects), lecithin (fat derived from animals) and gelatin (collagen extracted from animals’ skin, bones and connective tissue).
One such company is Botxn Beauty, the brainchild of three Toronto sisters and Ryerson students Fadumo, Nasra, and Amal Botan. The sisters work with a local manufacturer to produce their products. All of their cosmetics are halal certified, which means they’re proven to be made in accordance with the rules of Islam.
Growing up Muslim, the sisters struggled to decipher which products they could actually use. “We didn’t know if [a product] was halal because the ingredients were written in gibberish so you couldn’t understand if it contained ingredients we could use,” explains Fadumo.
As for makeup lovers, the sisters wanted Muslim women to have access to halal products. Their parents, who had fled the civil war in Somalia, encouraged them to pursue their dream. “They always pushed us toward making a difference and starting our own thing and not giving up on our hopes,” says Amal. “Their motto was ‘if you want to do something, go out and do it.’”
The risk paid off. Botxn Beauty now has orders coming in from all over the world, from people of all backgrounds and religions. Amal says they plan to expand their product line soon.
The sisters credit their success, in part, to their halal certification.“Being halal-certified means the products aren’t tested on animals, which is important to many consumers” says Nasra. “It helps people have that comfort in their heart.”
For me, the comfort that comes with halal-certified beauty products is multifaceted. It’s a mixture of emotions tied to confidence, gratitude and a sense of completion, as though halal cosmetics have filled this large void in my life.
Now, my once barely touched drawer of lacquers has been replaced with a rotating collection of halal polishes I use regularly. And when I kneel down to pray and press my beautifully painted fingers on the rug, I feel fulfilled knowing I’m staying true to every part of myself.
Originally published on wwwthekit.ca