Wearing regular nail polish is not necessarily haram for women. But, it is somewhat impractical because one must remove it thoroughly before performing wudu. Alternatively, Muslim women can choose halal nail polish, which complies with Islamic rules.
Nail polish is one of the most popular beauty trends followed by women all over the world, including Muslim women.
It is our obligation to seek guidance before making a choice so we can express ourselves without compromising our faith, including in applying makeup.
In this article, we learn the Islamic rulings of applying nail polish and all you need to know about the so-called halal nail polish.
Table of Contents:
1. Is Nail Polish Haram in Islam?
2. Why Applying Nail Polish Raises Concerns
3. Is clear/ colorless nail polish haram?
4. Is it necessary to remove nail polish on a deceased woman before burial?
5. Is It Haram to Wear Nail Polish While Praying?
6. Is it permissible to wear nail polish while not praying or during a menstruation period?
7. What is Halal Nail Polish?
8. The Debate Around Halal Nail Polish
9. Is Halal Nail Polish Really Halal?
10. Can You Perform Wudu with Breathable Nail Polish?
11. Where to Buy Halal Nail Polish
Is Nail Polish Haram in Islam?
It is generally more common for women to wear nail polish and less common for men to wear such nail art. Although nowadays it is becoming trendy and fashionable for some men to paint their fingernails for various reasons.
Muslim scholars agree that it is haram for men to apply any forms of adornment and beautifications, including the application of nail polish. As for men, doing so is considered imitating women and thus strictly forbidden. (source)
In Islam, only women are allowed to adorn or beautify themselves. And wearing nail polish is considered a form of adornment and permissible for Muslim women.
According to Mufti Ibrahim Desai, women are allowed to wear nail polish subject to the following conditions. (source)
1. Nail polish is completely removed before performing wudu (ablution) and ghusl (ritual bath).
2. Nail polish doesn’t contain any unlawful (haram) ingredients and substances.
3. Applying nail polish doesn’t aim to attract opposite gender or non-mahram individuals.
Check out our recent post to learn more about whether wearing make up is considered halal or haram.
Why Applying Nail Polish Raises Concerns
As we’ve already known, Muslims are obliged to perform five times daily prayers. The pre-requisite of completing a prayer (salah) is making a proper wudu (ablution).
A valid wudu requires washing certain body parts, including the head, face, arms, and feet, as mentioned in Quran Surah Al-Maidah 5:6. The entire fingers and toes must be appropriately washed too, including the nails.
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janābah,1, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself, or you have contacted women2 and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” (QS Al-Maidah:6)(source: https://quran.com/5:6)
In a sahih hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) asked a man to redo his ablution when he missed a spot as big as a fingernail.
It was narrated that ‘Umar bin Khattab said: “The Messenger of Allah saw a man performing ablution, and he missed a spot the size of a fingernail on his foot. He commanded him to repeat the ablution and his prayer, so he did.”(source: https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:666 )
The biggest problem with wearing nail polish is the formation of a waterproof coating that is water-resistant.
That means water can’t pass through (permeate) when doing wudu and render such ablution incomplete. So are the prayers performed after it. (source)
Although Muslim women are not prohibited from painting their nails, they have to remove the nail polish every time they need to perform wudu. Many women find it inconvenient. They prefer to play safe and not apply nail polish at all.
Additionally, Islamic scholars advise Muslim women to wear henna as an alternative to regular nail polish.
Henna has been widely known and practiced since the Prophet’s time and doesn’t typically form an impermeable coating on nails which can invalidate the ablution.
Is Clear/ Colorless nail polish haram?
Nail polish is available in various colors, from clear, red, black, etc. Regardless of the shades, the ultimate concern is that its application will prevent water from reaching the nails during wudu. By this logic, irrespective of the colors, the wudu will be incomplete. (source)
Is It Necessary to Remove Nail Polish on a Deceased Woman Before Burial?
It is compulsory to wash a janazah (dead body) before burial, including the fingernails and toenails.
If the deceased person wears nail polish, Muslim scholars agree that it must be removed entirely to allow water to reach the nails. Otherwise, the purification bath will be incomplete. (source)
Is It Haram to Wear Nail Polish While Praying?
It is worth mentioning again that nail polish itself doesn’t prevent the completion of prayers. But it does invalidate wudu. (source)
Look at these two situations below.
- If someone makes wudu, then applies nail polish and performs salah afterward, this is acceptable. In this case, using nail polish won’t necessarily break the wudu.
- When the person breaks her wudu, she must remove the nail polish entirely in order to make a proper wudu before performing the following prayer.
Performing wudhu is an essential part of a Muslim’s daily life, as daily prayers can’t commence without it. Thus, it is impractical to apply and remove nail polish multiple times a day, which is why many Muslim women choose to refrain from wearing such nail art.
Is it Permissible to Wear Nail Polish While Not Praying or During a Menstruation Period?
As mentioned above, the real issue with applying regular nail polish is the formation of an impermeable layer on the nails which makes the wudu invalid, hence the prayer.
Here is an answer from Mufti Waseem Khan regarding the permissibility of wearing nail polish during menstruation:
“… This shows that when a woman is in her menses and not performing Salaah, then she is allowed to wear the nail polish. Even, when she does not have to make wudhu, she can also wear it.”(source)
If you want to paint your nails, the safest and reasonable time is, indeed, during the menstruation period because you don’t need to perform daily prayers.
Also, please keep in mind that while applying nail polish is not necessarily forbidden under certain circumstances, it shouldn’t be worn to attract non-mahram men.
What is Halal Nail Polish?
In recent years, halal cosmetics have been gaining popularity worldwide. Numerous cosmetic brands grasp the opportunity by producing the so-called ‘halal nail polish’ to offer practical solutions for Muslim women.
According to Cosmetics & Toiletries Magazine, halal nail polish marketing usually uses terms such as ‘breathable’, ‘water-permeable’, and/ or ‘O2’. These products claim to be wudu- and Muslim-friendly by allowing the water to pass through the coating and reach the nails. (source)
Some manufacturers do not necessarily mention ‘halal’ in their products, simply ‘breathable’ or ‘permeable’. Meanwhile, some brands do carry a halal certification from a local Halal certification agency.
Where to Buy Halal Nail Polish
Here are some halal nail polish that are permeable and wudu friendly!
1- 786 Halal Nail Polish
Check out the 786 Halal Nail Polish in all Colors on Amazon (link to Amazon)
2- Karma Organic Halal Nail Polish
Check out the Karma Organic Halal Nail Polish in all Colors on Amazon (link to Amazon)
3- Karma Organic Halal Nail Polish Set
Check out the Karma Organic Halal Nail Polish Set in all Colors on Amazon (link to Amazon)
4- VIVRE Halal Nail Polish
Check out the VIVRE Halal Nail Polish on Amazon (link to Amazon)
The Debate Around Halal Nail Polish
Muslim scholars have divided opinions regarding the suitability of the so-called ‘halal nail polish’, let alone the requirements.
Some scholars are skeptical of the ‘halal nail polish’ idea. While some others agree that it must be water- and air-permeable in order to bear ‘halal’ claim. However, we cannot find uniform or universal standards, which is why Halal certifiers can set their own requirements.
In this Youtube video, Musaab Maniar (Halal certification coordinator of ISNA Canada Halal Certification Agency) explains how they certify halal nail polish. He also mentioned that being breathable is simply not enough.
From these findings, we can conclude that manufacturers and halal certifiers may interpret ‘breathable’ differently because there might be no precise definition or standard for it.
On the other hand, JAKIM Malaysia mentions that nail polish isn’t eligible for halal certification in its Manual Halal Certification procedure. JAKIM considers that nail polish has negative implications for religion and society. (source)
Is Halal Nail Polish Really Halal?
On top of the water permeability requirement, a product must comply with the Islamic requirements to bear a ‘halal’ claim. It must not contain any haram or unlawful ingredients, such as porcine substances.
Halal claim on nail polish raises at least two major concerns:
- Does it really permit water to reach the nails?
- Is it free from porcine and other unlawful ingredients prohibited in Islam?
Both aspects are crucial to determine whether a nail polish is genuinely suitable for Muslim consumers. To prove that a cosmetic product complies with Islamic law, the manufacturer must undergo rigorous tests and examinations from a reliable Halal certifier.
Therefore, we must be careful and take extra precautions when we encounter a self-claimed halal product. In this case, we can’t be sure whether the product is reliable and genuinely halal.
Can You Perform Wudu with Breathable Nail Polish?
As mentioned above, it seems that the ability of water to pass through the nails differs between ‘breathable’ nail polish might vary between brands. Therefore, there is no definite answer for this particular question.
In case of doubt, it is best to not take the risk considering the importance of wudu and prayers. Here is an answer from Faraz Rabbani (a Canadian Muslim scholar) to a similar question regarding the validity of wudu while wearing breathable nail polish.
“Nail polish acts as a barrier that prevents such washing, thereby rendering wudu invalid. If a new ‘breathable’ nail polish allowed water to seep through, then it still remains questionable as to whether the entire nail will be sufficiently washed. Considering the immense gravity and importance of salat, it is not worth taking the risk.”(source)
There are a lot of skepticisms around breathable nail polish. Some concerned Muslim women conducted amateur experiments by applying nail polish on a coffee filter or paper towel.
They found out that the water does not seep through the filter or paper, which made them believe their finding doesn’t support the claim.
Of course, we can’t guarantee if the experiment reflects the true nature of the product. However, if you share a similar concern, don’t hesitate to ask the manufacturer or go to their website.
Some brands publish the lab test to convince consumers about their product’s reliability. For example, you can find the permeability test result from Tuesday in Love on their website.
Furthermore, most companies claiming breathable or wudu-friendly usually have an instruction guide on performing wudu with their product. One needs to rub or pressure the nail while washing it for a certain amount of time (usually 10 seconds per nail).
In A Nutshell
Muslim scholars agree that women are allowed to wear nail polish under certain conditions. On the other hand, men are prohibited from painting their nails because it is considered imitating women.
The real concern about wearing nail polish is the formation of a water-resistant layer on the nails which invalidates wudu. As an alternative, Muslim women can choose a halal nail polish that complies with Islamic law or stick to henna.
Despite the controversies around halal nail polish, we believe that everyone is entitled to make informed choices. Our best advice is to make a decision that makes yourself comfortable.