First Halal Cosmetics Line in India Treks an Uphill Battle

The Indian cosmetic industry would expand manifold in the next coming years, according to experts, but Muslim women are a highly untapped consumer community who would otherwise benefit from the products.

This is because cosmetics often contain alcohol or by-products derived from animals and forbidden by Islam. For Muslim women, makeup also impedes upon wudu, the ritual washing performed before prayers, which are observed five times a day. That was until now, however, that the world is seeing a steady growth in the global Halal cosmetics and personal care market. An Ahmedabad-based company, promoted by two sisters, has introduced Halal cosmetics that adhere to Islamic beliefs. Ecotrail Personal Care, has launched a Halal cosmetic line that contains only vegetable and fruit extracts—among the first of its kind in India.

Mauli Teli, a former life sciences consultant with PWC and her younger sister Girishma Teli, a biotechnologist, introduced 60 products under the brand Iba Halal Care targeting a demographic of Indian Muslims, who form the world’s second-largest Muslim population and vegans.

Halal makeup has an ever-growing consumer market; globally, the overall cosmetic market worth is $464 billion, and Halal cosmetics and the personal care market is valued at $18.33 billion, according to research firm TechNavio. It is now projected to grow at 13 percent annually.

Muslims in India have long traveled abroad to find Halal products in Saudi Arabia or Southeast Asia. According to Quartz, Dilip Vadgama, Chief Operating Officer of EcoTrail Personal Care, said that there is a demand for Halal cosmetics in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan are among the Muslim countries seeing an increasing interest in Halal cosmetics, in part due to their fast-growing Muslim middle classes. In India, however, no Halal brand has existed thus far.

EcoTrail Personal Care’s 60 products are each sensitive to wudu, as they’re easily washed away with water. Permeable nail polishes still in development stages will also allow moisture to penetrate through the paint to the nail, and thus will not invalidate wudu. The breathable enamels were first created by a Polish cosmetic brand, Inglot.

The products are currently only available in Ahmedabad with pricing ranging Rs 195 for lipstick and Rs 100 for face wash, but has plans to be sold nationwide via Amazon India in the next month.

However, even with India’s personal care market growing at 15-17 percent year-on-year, the Halal cosmetic line will need to overcome an uphill battle in India. The limited access to the products only available in Ahmedabad will also remain an issue until they go live on Amazon. Until then, there remains a lack of awareness about the line, as it is the first and only of its kind.

Further, in order for a product to be considered Halal, it must neither contain animal ingredients nor be tested on animals, and it must not contain alcohol. But Halal also means that the products must be handled carefully down the supply chain, and vendors must ensure that any certified Halal products are prepared and packaged according to Islamic law—not contaminated by any such prohibited products.

Even still, though, there is no overarching organization that governs Halal certification for cosmetic products, and thus many countries are developing their own standards based on varying definitions of Halal in different sects of Islam, according to TechNavio. EcoTrail Personal Care must therefore comprehensively explore the targeted consumer demographic to better understand the products that they will deem acceptable. That seems simple while it’s limited to Ahmedabad, but with future plans to expand nationwide, the company will have to market to a wide disparity in the demographic of Halal cosmetic consumers.

According to TechNavio, the market does, fortunately, look promising over the next four years. More than 19.6 Million Muslim women population between 20 to 40 years could be a huge market to introduce cosmetic products.

Muhamed Meeran, Executive Director of Halal India, said in a report, that the Halal market comprising food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, services and other sectors, is expected to grow from $1.62 trillion in 2012 to $2.47 trillion in 2018. The cosmetics sector is currently worth $26 billion and is expected to grow to $39 billion by 2018.