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Purely driven

Purely driven

If you think eco-ethical businesses are a recent innovation, then go read the Holy Qu’ran, says Dr. Mah Hussain-Gambles.


July 11, 2010 12:37 by

During the early development phase of Saaf Pure Skincare – the world’s first halal and organic certified skincare range and the first halal certified skincare range in the West – I quickly realised that the definition of halal goes way beyond “alcohol-free and pork-free.” It also goes way beyond gambling and usury.

Halal permeates all aspects of life, including personal hygiene, care for the environment, animal welfare and not wasting God’s natural resources. And in business, halal principles could easily underpin corporate social responsibility or a company’s eco-ethical business model.

My career is rooted in science, with years spent at global pharmaceutical firms and training healthcare workers in evidence-based medicine in the field of cancer. It is frustrating to see many so-called organic and natural skincare products “greenwashing” their marketing literature. If I picked up a cream with “organic” on the label, I would expect it to be organic, not contain 1 percent of only one organic ingredient. If I saw a claim of cruelty-free, I would expect to see evidence of this, not just some emotive statement that means nothing unless it’s backed up by an independent, third-party stamp.

This was one of the reasons for creating Saaf. I wanted a skincare range that did just what it said on the tin. Formulation was not an issue. I am trained in pharmaceutical formulation and NPD. Getting the range accredited by independent bodies in the UK was easy as well. It was certified organic (by the Soil Association), cruelty free (BUAV and Naturewatch), and vegetarian and vegan. But in my quest to produce the world’s purest skincare (backed up by scientific evidence and independent accreditations), I searched for ways of making Saaf even more pure.

It was my husband who led me down the halal route. As a recent convert to Islam, he pointed out that many of my cosmetic products contained alcohol. At first I dismissed him, saying that the alcohol evaporates on the skin, and what is inhaled is minimal. Besides, alcohol is permitted in medicinal products.

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