People in Muslim-majority Bangladesh have become more brand conscious and are following global trends, particularly in fashion and cosmetics.
Last year, Bangladeshis spent $2.5 billion on cosmetics alone, according to a report by the State of the Global Islamic Economy, making it the sixth largest buyer of cosmetics in the Muslim world.
One of the trends taking the Muslim world by storm is "modest fashion" – a certain way of dressing that incorporates the latest taste, style and trend, but within the boundaries of Islam.
With modest fashion comes the newest label of cosmetics - "halal" cosmetics. The halal here refers to ingredients used in products permissible in Islam.
Bithi Haq, a university student, said she wanted to follow the latest trends without ignoring the Islamic code. "I wanted to follow the trends my friends followed by dressing modestly," she said. "I started wearing a hijab when I turned 18 and I think I look good in it."
She said she used halal cosmetics but lamented that the Bangladeshi market was not ready to manufacture halal products for local consumers.
Another modest wear fashionista, Tasnima Tarannum Karishma, a doctor at Chittagong Agrabad Maa-O-Shishu Hospital, told The Dhaka Tribune, "I use halal cosmetics following the global modest fashion trend.
"I used to use imported halal cosmetics for three years. But with the advent of Indonesian cosmetics company ‘Wardah’, I can now buy the cosmetics here."
She added that she believed that all the halal products were free of animal fat and alcohol.
East West University teacher Laila Zaman said she strictly tried to maintain "halal" and "haram". "Most perfumes have alcohol in them but I had to resort to using them,” she said. “But times have changed and now I can use halal perfumes."
Laila is also a regular client of "Wardah". She said she used Wardah products as they were laballed "halal".
Bangladesh Beauty Parlour Owners Association chief Mustakima Rubi told the Dhaka Tribune that people started going for herbal products around five years ago. "The trend changed and in the last two years, consumers have been going for halal products."
She said: "The demand for halal cosmetics is increasing in the country. The halal products are not meant for Muslims only; others can use them too."
Rubi said although Unilever produced some halal products, Bangladesh needed a company that would produce only halal cosmetics.
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Wardah offers over 300 hallal items Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
In Bangladesh, "Symon AnMi" is the official business partner for Wardah, an authentic full range halal cosmetics company.
Wardah officials say Symon AnMi is a promising growing venture that deals with multinational businesses. It is the first introducer of halal cosmetics in Bangladesh.
Symon Imran Hyder, the chairman of Symon AnMi, said they started their business six months ago with the motto of building a proper halal cosmetics line that will consist of the best brands.
"We hope that people will able to buy authentic and premium quality products whenever they want," he said. "Bangladesh has a few modest fashionistas and they have started demanding halal cosmetics. We intend to meet their demands."
The company now offers over 300 items. Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh are the only countries with official business partners of Wardah.
Founded in 1985, Wardah is one of the most popular cosmetic brands in Indonesia. The company is certified with GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and HAS (Halal Assurance System).
Consumers can now find halal products from two stores of "Symon AnMi" at Gulshan Police Plaza Shopping mall and Dhanmondi Plaza AR.