Charlene had to make her own lipsticks, now it's all the rage worldwide

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Charlene Laville

Cosmetics entrepreneur Charlene Laville. Image provided by Alicia Buller

 

Cosmetics entrepreneur Charlene Laville remembers the struggle she faced trying to find decent makeup that also met her standards. When she travelled to the US from Britain every few months, she would stock up on as many products as possible. 

“This wasn’t a very pragmatic option,” she laments. “After one more long and costly flight with unsatisfactory products, I woke up and thought, ‘I could do this myself’.” 

“As a Muslim lady with a way of life that is not just [limited] to food, it is important to have products that mirror that my needs. I figured that if this was so important to me then it would also be important to millions of other Muslim women.”

Charlene’s hunch was right. Just a few years ago, halal cosmetics was a niche market for a few small businesses, mainly in countries in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Today, the halal cosmetics industry is valued at $20 billion and is expected to double by 2019, when it will represent 6 per cent of the global cosmetics market, according to research firm TechNavio. 

The plucky 34-year-old Muslim convert set about building her makeup firm Nizz Cosmetics in 2013. Having no prior cosmetic science experience, she says she began researching halal cosmetics online. “Eight months later, I effectively had my own cosmetics line that I formulated, manufactured and packaged myself.” 

Today, her London-based makeup firm, supplies thousands of units every month to people all around the globe, including celebrities such as British TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Caroline Flack. 

The Nizz range currently only extends to lipstick, but Charlene plans to expand into wider cosmetics and skincare products. The lipsticks are natural, vegetarian and halal-friendly, with no carmine, pork fat or alcohol ingredients.

As the global Muslim population continues to grow and become more affluent, major beauty products companies are beginning to adapt to the trend. French firm L’Oréal has had hundreds of its ingredients certified halal, and UK supermarket chain Asda is set to become the first major UK retailer to sell halal cosmetics in May this year. The Halal Cosmetics Company range will be carried in 54 Asda stores and will also be available on the retailer’s online home shopping website.

As Charlene explains, the products appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims. “There is an immense gap in the market for halal luxury beauty products that are also morally well-disposed and trend-centred.”

The former nurse says it was her health background that led her to begin investigating the provenance and ingredients in cosmetics. “I thought it critical to list all components of makeup transparently where possible.”

“Because I come from a nursing background, the science theory in the Quran blew my mind. This is where my Islamic research started and took me on a spiritual journey. Once I got my mind around the science, I researched deeper and everything fell neatly into place. Science has always had a fundamental input in everything I do. Even now, in my current career, cosmetic science plays a big role.”

Charlene says that, five years from now, she envisions Nizz as a lifestyle brand with a strong retail presence and distribution strategy within the luxury beauty market. “The plan is to make halal products that meet the needs of billions of women worldwide.

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