Halal cosmetics: ingredients to avoid, and what to replace them with

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Halal cosmetics: ingredients to avoid, and what to replace them with

Related tags Halal cosmetics

Here, we take a look at some of the major traditional beauty ingredients that are not permitted under halal, and what they can be replaced with.

Halal is an Arabic term in Islamic law used to describe items that are considered acceptable for consumption or use. As the market for halal cosmetics continues to hot up​, formulators are increasingly looking for permitted ingredients to use in products. 

Halal cosmetics are defined as those which do not contain any derivatives for ingredients derived from animals slaughtered in a non-halal way, nor any of the following:

  • Any parts of forbidden animals​. Under Islamic law, dog and pig are not permitted for consumption, eliminating several key beauty ingredients from formulation: lard, gelatin, collagen, glycerin, allantoin and more.
  • Any ingredient that could cause harm to the consumer.​ In beauty, this includes mercury, lead and hydroquinone
  • Any human parts or ingredients derived from the human body.​ This rule eliminates any use of human stem cells in cosmetics​. Stem cells as an ingredient in beauty is a trend that has been gathering momentum of late: however, most formulators opt for plant-based stem cells, which are permitted under halal rules.

This list was presented by industry expert James Jangsuh Noh of the Korea Institute of Halal Industry, at the recent in-cosmetics Korea trade event.


Noh notes that there are several permissible alternatives to these non-halal ingredients, including:

  • Any ingredient from animals slaughtered according to halal law. ​As long as it’s derived from halal beef, beef tallow, gelatin and collagen are all permitted.
  • All aquatic animals that are halal for consumption. ​This means marine collagen is acceptable for use in halal beauty.
  • Any ingredient sourced from land animals' fur​ or related material (except pig), as long as it’s harvested while the animal is still alive. This makes lanolin permitted.
  • Plants and microorganisms. ​Botanical extracts, essential oils, allantoin and xanthan gum are all allowed, for example.
  • Soil and water.
  • Alcohol.​ Although not halal for consumption as alcoholic drinks, alcohol in cosmetics and personal care formulation is permitted.
  • Synthetic materials. ​Any non-hazardous synthetic material is allowed in halal beauty.

Supply chain savvy

It’s not just in the formulation of products where beauty brands need to take care: the packaging and supply chain also pose potential pitfalls for halal accreditation.

Speaking recently to Cosmetics Design, analyst from Kline Kunal Mahajan explained that brands looking to tap into the trend will need to be aware of the strict accreditation process that any products claiming to be halal have to meet.

“The entire supply chain including handling, packaging, storage, distribution and labelling, will have to meet the criteria to be branded as Halal cosmetics. Manufacturers will have to look into these aspects, especially as the awareness levels among consumers increase,”​ he confirmed.

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