A new brand of nail polish offers a possible solution to Muslim women’s manicure dilemma. By Afia R Fitriati.
A Polish company’s new product, a ‘breathable’ nail polish called O2M (which stands for oxygen and moisture), has been receiving a boost in sales from an unexpected group of customers: Muslim women.
Traditionally, Muslim women shy away from the use of nail polish because it prevents water from touching the nails during wudhu. Wudhu is a purification ritual necessary before worshipping Allah. The hands are one of the body parts required to be purified during wudhu.
This is where O2M differs from other nail polishes. Inglot, the company that manufactures the product, says that O2M uses a new formula that allows air and moisture to pass through to the nail. The breathable polymer used in the formula is similar to that used in the newest generation of contact lenses.
This statement is backed up by a blog post by Mustafa Umar, an Islamic scholar based in the US. Mustafa conducted an experiment using coffee filter to see whether water can really permeate the O2M nail polish.
‘It appears to me that there is a sound basis for believing the water seeps through to the nail when wearing O2M breathable nail polish. Perhaps not every brand which claims to be breathable meets this criteria and perhaps the nails need to be soaked in water for a few seconds. Nonetheless, the basis exists for permissibility,’ writes Mustafa, who is director of education and outreach with the Islamic Institute of Orange County in California.
Muslim women are still advised against using it because doing so is considered crossing the boundaries of modesty
The issue has sparked a ‘nail-biting’ debate on Islamic online forums such as SuhaibWebb.com. Some critics argue that the discussion on the issue is a futile one, and even if the nail polish is truly breathable, Muslim women are still advised against using it because doing so is considered crossing the boundaries of modesty.
On the other hand, Mustafa said in an Associated Press interview that he has gotten an enthusiastic reception to his opinion from women. ‘Usually when men give a religious ruling or verdict, they tell women that something is not allowed,’ said the 31-year-old scholar. ‘They felt so good that someone was finally telling them “you are allowed to do this”.’
A forum commenter under the name Ummehani is one example of women who think positively of Mustafa’s opinion. ‘I have never cared for nail polish,’ she wrote. ‘But [I] have daughters who may care one day, and I would love to give them a scientific/Islamic information on this issue.’
O2M nail polishes are flying off the shelves in the United States, one of the countries where it is marketed. Associated Press talked to Zaida Saleh, a Muslim kindergarten teacher who enthusiastically bought the varnish in five colours, including bright pink, burgundy and mauve. ‘I am excited. I feel more feminine,’ she said in the interview.
No one was more surprised at O2M’s reception than Inglot’s late founder, Wojciech Inglot, who recently passed away on February 23. ‘I don’t think there is a single Muslim living here,’ said Inglot when Associated Press interviewed him at his factory in Przemysl, Poland. ‘We didn’t even think about this.’
Inglot 02M Nail Enamels are available in 300 retail locations worldwide. In the USA, they are available in Inglot Boutiques and select Macy’s department stores.