By far our most favourite emails we receive almost every month is from our Muslim sisters who have discovered our unique water permeable nail polish and halal cosmetics. And almost always their messages include a sigh of relief knowing that they don’t have to give up painting their nails or doing their makeup as they had originally thought when they first accepted Islam.
But it raises the question as to why the application of makeup and nail polish has always been an uphill battle for Muslim women in our communities, and more importantly why many of our Muslim scholars so easily dismiss this part of a woman’s daily routine as a mere luxury or pastime. We believe that although our Imams and scholars have strong and valuable insight into the rulings on modesty in Islam, they may not fully understand the psychological and spiritual benefits that cosmetics bring to women. They may also be unaware of the history of cosmetics in the Muslim world and the origins of various cosmetic items that were invented by Muslims.
Beautification is not always Vanity
The idea that women only beautify themselves for the sake of drawing male attention is not only false, but also extremely offensive, as it characterizes beautification as an act of vanity and promiscuity. The very process of grooming and applying makeup has a great deal of psychological benefit and the ritualistic application of cosmetics has a very calming and nurturing effect on the psych. When a woman is engaged in this process her focus is strictly on herself in that moment. Thus for a woman who may be constantly distracted throughout the day (whether it be with work, or life at home), this time to herself creates an opportunity to clear her head and clear out the external noise and stress of the outside world. It also gives her the time to put herself first, something that many women often neglect.
The psychology of color teaches us that different colors often reflect a person’s mood. And hence the application of color to her makeup, wardrobe, or a woman’s hands, can be an indicator to the outside world of how she may be feeling that day. More so, it can be a reminder of how she wants to feel every time she glances at that color. For example, a soft baby pink manicure might make her feel cute and light-hearted, whereas a deep dark red may empower her to feel bold and in control. The constant reminders of a particular color throughout the day often has a reinforcing effect on the brain when associated with a particular mood or feeling.
Muslims Invented Makeup
Many of our male scholars are unaware of the Islamic history surrounding cosmetics. One of the greatest historical surgeons of the Islamic golden age, Al-Zahrawi, also happened to be one of the fathers of modern day cosmetology. Much of Al-Zahrawi’s writings referred to methods that helped improve hygiene. These included under-arm deodorants, hair straightening, suntan lotions, and hair dyes. He described the benefits of various products, their ingredients, and manufacturing process.
What made his work even more unique was that he was one of the first people to create the modern day lipstick. In his works, he referred to perfumed stocks rolled and pressed into special molds. These stocks contained red dyes to which women would apply to the lips for beautification. The ones without dye are similar to the modern day deodorant sticks. He used oily substances called ‘Adhan’ for medication and beautification.
Women Do it for Themselves
Perhaps the most important thing that we want our male scholars and Imams to understand is that when it comes to beautification, above all else, women do it for themselves. It follows the same logic as for men who work out at the gym. Not every man is exercising for the purposes of showing off his body and strength to a woman. Many men do it for their health, to build physical strength and stamina, to relieve stress, or just to feel good about themselves.
And yes, although a woman appreciates a compliment every now and then about her appearance, women are not always in need of compliments. The feeling of beauty, strength, confidence, and happiness is something that should come from within herself, based on her own self image and self respect.
Dear Scholars, Let's Talk
In this age of technical advancement and innovation in cosmetics, our Muslim scholars often get asked very difficult questions and often have very little resources to draw answers from. Therefore, we at Tuesday in Love want our scholars to feel that they can reach out to us with questions about cosmetic ingredients, development and even functionality. By working together, we can provide more efficient and clearer guidelines around Islamic rulings, as well as create better halal options for Muslim consumers around the world.