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Halal Nail Varnish, Testing, Eid Trends and Top Picks

Almost ten years ago "Halal" and " Wudu friendly" nail varnish entered the beauty world and it has remained a global t...

Almost ten years ago "Halal" and "Wudu friendly" nail varnish entered the beauty world and it has remained a global trend for Muslim markets ever since.

In this article I've explored the top picks of nail brands available to the UK, what makes these 'Halal', and 2020 colour trends for Eid.

I also test these products myself so check out the results below.

What is Halal Nail Varnish?
Let's be clear. There is no such thing as 'Halal nail varnish'. Halal is a legal term derived in Islam from Quran and Ahadith sources; Muslims live by these codes as law. Many nail varnishes are ethical, animal product and alcohol free, and not tested on animals, so they come close to being 'Halal' - this is great.

But a 100% Islamically rewarding and strictly Shariah complaint nail varnish doesn't exist because there are too many variables in its production and its use.

Watch the YouTube video here.

What Islam Says About Make up?
Historically, nail varnish has not been included in these areas of legalities because it's commonly known that the lacquer prevents water touching the nails, which is a requirement of the ablution before prayer.

See + Prophet Muhammad's Eco Wudu

Certain news stories claimed a Fatwa (Islamic ruling) was issued against nail polish but this turned out to be not entirely accurate.

However, in Islamic jurisprudence, if the smallest area of skin is left dry during ablution it needs to be repeated.

In contemporary scholarly discussion, nail polish is grouped under the umbrella topic of bandages and wound coverings, which means that if you have a medical reason to cover your nails - this is an accepted exemption.

Contrary to popular opinion, yes, Wudu is a spiritual act as well as physical hygiene.

Yes, make-up is allowed in Islam within common-sense and cultural boundaries.

Yes, Muslim women wear nail polishes and unfortunately peers have inferred two things by this: that the woman is menstruating and showing she is absolved from praying (ie. no Wudu is required) or that she is rebellious and deliberately not praying. Neither are healthy judgements.

The only real practical equivalent to nail polish is perhaps nail Henna (mehndi), a temporary tattoo alternative that fades away.

Read + How Henna Is Used As A Treatment

Why Talk About Halal Nail Varnish Now?
I've never needed to explore this area before. Make-up trends are ever changing and as a Muslim woman, I personally don't wear nail varnish so it's not affected my ablution or prayers. As an eco-Muslim, appearances have not been part of my environmental Jihad (struggle).

However, for many audiences, having breathable nail polish is a health and beauty issue. Now in 2020, there are over 30 brands just within Europe and America - the Arab countries and south Asia has just as many designer varnishes.

Top Nail Varnish Picks To UK
Niya Cosmetics. Based in London, Niya states they have certification from the Halal Certification Agency to become Shariah compliant. Positively, they clearly note that two coats of their porous varnish can be applied and users should rub the fingernails for water to penetrate for Wudu.

Lena Nail Polish. Another UK based company with a wide range of Eid-inspired colours, their water permeability report states the nail varnish is 'significantly water permeable' after 90 seconds. I'll be testing their products below.

Nailberry. With five collections, one called 'L’Oxygéné', Nailberry's certification complies with the Halal & Hygiene Guidelines by International Halal Integrity Alliance.

786 Cosmetics. An American company, 786 ships internationally and creates products inspired by tropical countries. Their 'Halal' award is verified as water permeable by the Kalamazoo Islamic Center (KIC) who clearly state in their report wearers should rub their nails for water penetration.

Tuesday In Love. A Canadian company that has a large range of colours, it is their 'semi-permeable membrane' that allows water and air to seep through. They are certified by ISNA Canada.

Inglot. Also called O2M, their breathable collection was probably one of the first to market. Although they are not promoting Halal polishes, they boast 400 colours and have vegan label certification.

Mersi Cosmetics. Again, there is no documented Halal test but Mersi offer information if querying. They explain how their colour molecules are staggered for porous varnishes and have a good range of products.

Maya Cosmetics. Finally, Maya offer their Halal certification through queries as it's not published on their website. Fortunately, they do explain in a helpful YouTube video that one-coat of their varnish requires the wearer to rub each nail for 10 seconds to correctly perform Wudu.

The Laboratory: Testing 'Halal' Nail Varnish
Most nail brands have declared their certifications of permeability. But I want to emphasise the differences in terminology and the testing science.

  • If a nail varnish is 'breathable' it allows a certain amount of air to touch the nailbed. Useful for nail health. 
  • If a nail varnish is 'permeable' it allows a certain amount of air and water to penetrate through a porous layer.

These varnishes have stated that new technology has altered the structure of the varnishes' atoms, which are now staggered like bricks with microscopic gaps in-between atoms. This supposedly allows gases and water to enter once the varnish has dried.

This information itself is insufficient to declare a varnish outright 'Halal', again because of the legal requirements to be ethical, animal and alcohol free, and of course, compliant with prayer ablutions.

I also have questions about the density of the varnishes. Does the breathability function change if several coats of polish are used? Do they peel? How long would it take for water to seep through?

Let's investigate.

Testing Lena's breathable nail varnishes called Butler Please and Dripping in Gold.

I cut several squares of tissue paper with the same thickness. Painted a square of one-coat of each colour and waited till dry.

I placed these squares on top of clean dry tissue. I used a beaker to squeeze one drop, then two and three drops of water onto the Butler Please shade first.

This did not penetrate through immediately so after 1 minute I used my finger to spread and push the water through; it actually took up to 60-70 seconds for the water to seep to the layer underneath.

Result: far too time consuming and evidently, even with vigourous friction, this is not a guaranteed water penetration. It could take 4-5 minutes just to ensure the nails are wet for Wudu.

On the other hand the Dripping in Gold shade was extremely porous, so much so that I was unable to capture a photograph of the water droplets on the surface. Within 2-3 seconds it was absorbed and spread to the second layer.

Result: water permeability is immediate and successful. Would recommend this as it saves time and is extremely likely to pass Wudu testing.

I know nail professionals usually paint more than one coat so to make things more realistic, I carried out the water test again with 3-layers of paint to simulate a real nail surface.

Result: fail. No water penetration after 5 minutes.


Similarly the gold shade was painted in 3-layers and it completely prevented water penetration.

Result: fail. Use nail varnish remover to complete Wudu/Ghusl correctly.


Eid 2020 Colour Trends
According to Pantone's 2020 colour of the year, blues, neutrals and bright summer florals are making a summer hit. This influences colour choices in the fashion and beauty industry and nails are affected by this: you'll see nude and pastel colours, greys and classic blues trending for this season.


For Muslims, it's quite clever to match Eid clothes or henna colours with nails so maroons and dark colours are a hit. Naturally, nude shades that complement skin tones will look classically on-point.

Well, that's a pretty comprehensive expose on nails on my part. I hope it helps.

Eid ul-adha Mubarak,
Zaufishan


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