For many, checking skincare labels and researching formulas has become second nature. When it comes to translating and identifying the ingredients we like and love, we're basically pros—and it can be an important learning experience in getting to know what's in our beauty products. However, for the Muslim community, carefully examining ingredient labels isn't just an exercise; it's a necessity.
Halal, which means "lawful" or "permitted" in Arabic, is a term that applies to the dietary, social, economic needs of Muslims. Halal products don't have any animal or animal by-products or contain certain alcohols, for example. But, even in today's saturated beauty space, finding halal beauty products can be a challenge. Jordan Karim, the founder of Flora & Noor, wants to change that.
Before launching her skincare brand, the former pharmaceutical consultant would DIY her own skincare because she couldn't find products that served her needs—and the needs of her community. This love of natural ingredients and superfoods would fuel the brand's formulas and inspire her to start her own skincare brand.
To learn more about Flora & Noor, halal ingredients, and her inspiration, we spoke with the brand founder about all things beauty. Read on to see what she had to say.
Halal Ingredients and Formulas
While Jordan was always interested in skincare, she found there was a long list of products she couldn't use because they weren't halal—and she wasn't the only one. "I wanted to create something that was inclusive of everyone," Karim says of her brand.
"There’s a huge confusion that if a product is vegan, it must be halal. But that’s not that case because a lot of vegan products still have alcohol," she explains. To deem a product halal, there are more requirements than just cruelty-free or vegan.
"Products can’t have any alcohol in them because, as Muslims, we’re not allowed to consume any alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol is fine because you can’t become intoxicated," she explains. However, "a lot of the alcohol in skincare products is other types, which we are prohibited from using."
Another important factor to consider when shopping Halal: products can't "be made near any animal or animal byproducts," Karim explains. For example, if a beauty warehouse or facility "also makes other products that contain blood by animals or animals, that would not be halal." What's more, ingredients like glycerin and collagen are often derived from animals or animal byproducts.
Karim's solution? She opted to use vegetable glycerin in her brand, and instead of collagen, she chose collagen-boosting ingredients. "People don't even realize it also is how the product is made—in terms of packaging, being environmentally friendly and environmentally conscious, that’s also a part of being halal," she says.
Addressing the Concerns of Melanin-Rich Skin
While halal skincare and beauty isn't a new concept, it isn't as common in the U.S. as it is in the Middle East and Asia. What Jordan found was that, while she could find some halal beauty products, many of them didn't address the needs of melanin-rich skin. "The ingredients formulated into the products don’t help with hyperpigmentation, they don’t help with melasma," she says, which are two concerns common with melanated skin.
Naturally, one of her first collections, Flora & Noor's Vitamin C line, was formulated to address hyperpigmentation. She made it a point to develop the formula to target melasma with gentle ingredients. Her work in pharmaceuticals led to the realization that these common skincare concerns were treated with chemicals like hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, which she found too harsh for her skin. In contrast, Floor & Noor products like the Vitamin C Resurfacing Toner ($24), Karim's favorite, even out skin texture and treat hyperpigmentation gently with vitamin C and glycolic acid.
Her scientific background also had a huge impact on how the beauty founder chooses ingredients. "I know what works and what doesn't work and what’s unnecessary," she says. "I'm able to compare that [experience] with my own products and make sure that what I'm formulating still yields those efficacious results—but I'm doing it in a halal, vegan, and cruelty-free way."
Before launching the brand, she spent time in her kitchen experimenting with DIY skincare when halal products weren't readily available. These same superfood ingredients ended up in her formulas. In products like the #NOFILTER Enzyme Mask ($32), you’ll find ingredients like aloe vera, spirulina, honey, and papaya.
“I want to encourage everyone to be interested in halal skincare the same way that people care about vegan or cruelty-free products," Jordan explains. "In general, halal products are better for you. They’re better for you environmentally; they’re better because they don’t have any harsh chemicals or toxins, and they don’t have any animal or animal byproducts. They’re cruelty-free already. These sorts of things benefit everyone, not just Muslims.”
You can shop the brand at floraandnoor.com.