Nail polish has never been acceptable to Muslim women because of its interference with Wudu (ablution). Many of us opt not to wear it except on those days every month when we’re menstruating and don’t need to perform the daily salaah. Let’s face it, some of us actually look forward to our cycle because of this small perk. However, there’s now a new product on the market that would let us Muslim women wear nail polish freely. Yes, there’s now meant to be a halal nail polish on the markets. There’s no doubt that this product would be well-loved by Muslim women. After all, halal nail polish would mean no worries about sinning. You’d be able to pray and still wear your favourite colour. I don’t even wear nail polish often and I’m excited! But how much truth is there to all this?
Birth of Halal Nail Polish
Over the past few years, many brands have come out with new nail polishes, making the claim that they are Halal and therefore wudu can be performed over the polish. Maya and Inglot are two brands that claim to have released halal nail polishes. Maya’s explanation of their product is:
“Our formula uses a special polymer which enables oxygen and moisture to be transported through the nail polish. Its permeability allows moisture and oxygen to make contact with the fingernails after you have applied nail polish”
Their instructions for use are:
- Apply one layer of Maya nail polish and/or a layer of Maya top coat, as you would with any other nail polish.
- Let it dry.
- Each time you perform wudu, run nails under water and then rub gently for ten seconds.
It seems simple enough but I do feel like it’s more of a hassle than I would bother with. I do have friends who’d be willing to use this product however. The biggest concern for me is that these products are in high demand amongst Muslim women who are confident that the polishes do not prevent both water and air from reaching the nails during ablutions. But is this the case?
What do Scholars say
Emirates 24|7 news spoke to Dr Ali Ahmed Mashael, Grand Mufti at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai. He explained that women must be very careful and not believe claims from companies and salons, unless a fatwa is given from a trusted party.
“If this is claimed to be a breathable nail polish which does not make a coat on the nail, a woman must try to peel it away. If it does not peel, then yes it might be ‘halal’. However, if the woman tries to peel it and finds a peeled part coming out, then it is not ‘halal’, as it covers the nail and creates a shield on it. Thus, women cannot put it and pray.”
I remember using a nail polish called Tuesday in Love that claimed to be halal friendly but peeled just the same. It was almost like painting your nails with PVC glue the way little kids sometimes do.
Islam Q & A has made it clear what the requirements are:
“If the nail polish – whatever it is called or however it is manufactured – is simply a dye or colour, with no substance, in the sense that it does not form a separate layer over the nail, then this does not prevent water reaching the nails, hence wudoo’ is valid if done whilst wearing it and it does not have to be removed….But if it forms a layer that prevents water from reaching the nails, then it must be removed before doing wudoo’, because one of the conditions of wudoo’ being valid is that the water must reach all of the part of the body that is being washed and must touch it directly with no barrier in between.”
They further say:
“….We are very doubtful as to whether this nail polish actually allows water to reach the nails ….we will leave the practical details to specialists who deal with such matters, because they are more able to identify what exactly this nail polish is and what its nature is, so you should ask trustworthy people who have the appropriate expertise and are religiously committed”. 
It’s evident that there are no confirmations or endorsements of these products by scholars.
Tests that women have done
There’s a divide amongst Muslim women as to the permissibility of halal nail polish. Women have carried out tests by allowing a drop of water onto their nails and found that “the water just sat on top of the nail”. It’s very concerning that women have gone to such extents as:
“test on a piece of regular paper vs on a teabag paper/coffee filter. The teabag paper/coffee filter is like a net which means that water goes through the holes and it doesn’t matter what type of paint you paint the net with. Also in some instances water could mean water vapor that is already makes up 4% of air, it doesn’t necessarily wet the area under the nail polish. Tested it yourself but correctly with positive (no nail polish) and negative control (regular impermeable nail polish) and don’t test on coffee filters!”  (This was put down in a comment to an article that Muslim Girl magazine wrote on halal nail polish.)
It’s very worrying that some of us are willing to go to such extreme lengths to defend something that was originally definitely impermissible. It cannot be entirely confirmed that these are actually halal products and many women are willing to take the risk for a mere possibility.
Please also note the Prophet Muhammad (saw) words to Abu Dharr (ra): “If you find water, then let it touch your skin, for that is good.” Narrated by Abu Dawood (332); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Islam Q & A has further made it clear that:
“Even if we assume that this type of nail polish allows water to pass through, calling it “Islamic nail polish” does not make it permissible for a woman to go out wearing it, because it comes under the heading of adornment that it is not permissible to show in front of non-mahram men.”
Some women make the argument that these days, the hijab draws far more attention than painted nails. Surely this doesn’t mean that we should no longer wear the hijab? Another vehemently argued point is that intention is what matters and what we will be judged on. I’ll admit that I simply don’t understand this argument. If we stretch this premise, we could make the argument that it’s permissible to go out wearing a mini skirt – because we don’t intend to attract the attention of men – and that’s just not the case.
Personally, I completely disagree with these so-called halal polishes. I don’t think that it’s worth the possible sin just to pretty up your nails – if you’re desperate to have them, henna’s a lovely alternative. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, however and I’d love to hear yours. So please feel free to tell us what you think in the comments below!
 24/7, E. n. (n.d.). Dubai Grand Mufti on is ‘halal’ nail polish really ‘halal’? Dubai: Emirates news 24/7.