How "halal" is halal nail polish? Here's what you need to know
One of the essential duties as a Muslim is to perform the five daily prayers, all of which require an individual to take wudu, or ablution, beforehand. The practice requires all parts of the face, head, arms and feet to be covered entirely by water in order to be valid, so as a result, the general consensus is that Muslims are unable to use nail polish as typical formulas create an impermeable coat over the nail.
However, over the last couple of years, an entirely new formulation of nail polish has surfaced in the market: Breathable, water-permeable “halal” nail polish. Boasting a formula that allows water and air to reach the nails, the products were hailed as a complete game-changer upon their release, allowing Muslim women to get trendy mani-pedis without compromising their ability to pray.
Naturally, the demand for these products shot up almost immediately after they were announced, with stock flying off the shelves and countless nail salons promoting their new “halal mani-pedis”.
However, many have voiced their concerns over exactly how halal the products are. In reality, the breathability and water permeability of many halal nail polish brands such as Orly Breathable have been found to be insufficient when it comes to ablution; they still create a peel-able barrier over the nail. This barrier is technically breathable, but the catch is that it requires at least 10-15 seconds for the water to fully permeate through. Considering that realistically, the average individual only spends a fraction of that time washing their hands and feet during ablution, the nail underneath the nail polish is technically yet to be cleansed, and that the wudu is invalid.
On that strain, although many brands use the term breathable and water-permeable interchangeably, they are not one in the same. The biggest difference is that the genuine water-permeable formulations on the market are non-peelable (they don't create a barrier over the nail) and genuinely do allow water down to the nail. However, it should be mentioned that any more than one or two coats of polish compromises the water-permeability considerably. So despite the product being 'halal', if you're gunning for a flawless manicure and painting on enough coats for a solid colour, you're setting yourself up for failure.
The video below shows this really clearly—breathable nail polish isn't water-permeable, and water-permeable nail polish is (in thin coats).
This is a bummer if you were excited about the prospect of painted nails all year round but, unfortunately, most religious authorities agree that halal nail polish isn’t actually halal at all.
In fact, there isn't a standardised criteria for the halal certification of nail polish. Some consider formulations free-of-pork products and byproducts to be halal, while others prioritise the function of the products (such as its water permeability). Apart from that, some companies have obtained a halal certification after making 'donations' to halal certification boards with questionable credibility.
Don't despair, though! There are plenty of options for you ladies who still want to indulge in all things nails without compromising prayer time.
Using your *monthly pass* to its full advantage
This is probably something you already do, but your period is the perfect excuse to get a guilt-free manicure—seeing as it's the one week (give or take) a month that women are not required to pray, there's nothing stopping you from painting your nails.
Use henna to colour your nails
A beauty relic of many cultures, henna is a natural plant dye most popularly used for temporary tattoos. Henna paste is halal as it only stains the nails instead of creating a coat—unlike normal nail polish—meaning that water can easily penetrate down to the nail.
Stick on nail art is a great solution. If you’ve got a big event and want to look your best, instead of sitting through a two-hour mani pedi session and paying way too much just to take it off the very next day (or that same evening!), try some stick-on nails. They apply in seconds and are reusable, making them a good investment—just opt for adhesive rather than nail glue to make them easier to remove.
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