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Purely ethical.

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What would you say to a plate of petroleum-derived chemicals, along with a side of rusted lead? Probably a polite, "no thank you", but the funny reality is that most women add toxic chemicals to their diet every day, simply by wearing lipstick and other make-up.

Studies show that women can eat up to several tonnes of lipstick during their lifetime. A concerning 5lb of chemicals per year are said to be absorbed into the body as a result of make up, while up to 60 per cent of what we put on our skin is absorbed into the body. It seems that looking good on the outside has never been so hazardous for our health and wellbeing.

That's why, Doctor Mah Hussain-Gambles, a homeopath, pharmacologist and founder and formulator of Saaf Pure Skincare, decided that it was high time to create an effective, yet totally organic and ethical skincare range.A Doctor Mah's Saaf Pure Skincare range will be available to buy in Dubai by the end of this week at the Organic Foods and Cafe, and not only does the range contain purely organic ingredients, it's halal too.

Using her background in pharmacology (the study of the effect of drugs in the body and on the skin), drug formulation development and homeopathy, Doctor Mah sources rare beneficial oils from all over the world to create Saaf (meaning 'pure' in Persian) products.

"Saaf products are tested to comply with strict European Union Cosmetics Safety Regulations. They are also Organic Soil Association certified, meaning that the ingredients and the final products do not undergo any chemical processing during production. All of our raw materials are bio-degradable, free from GMOs and the crops are rotated so that the land is not depleted of nutrients," says Doctor Mah.

"Our packaging is made from sustainable resources and is recyclable; our sales literature is printed on recycled paper, using vegetable based inks, and we donate ten per cent of our profits to charitable and environmental causes - which makes our business model utterly ethical." Doctor Mah, who is currently based in the UK, initially started her range of organic skincare products for personal reasons - as her twin daughters have very sensitive skin and seem to be allergic to most synthetic ingredients.

The halal angle to Saaf products began when her husband Malcolm, who converted to Islam, pointed out that he found it a paradox that Muslims shouldn't drink alcohol, yet many of their dressing tables are cluttered skincare and haircare products, containing alcohol. Doctor Mah was then encouraged to look into creating halal skincare products.

"I have been researching halal through consultations with Muslim scholars and by obtaining references directly from the Quran for over four years now," says Doctor Mah. "To me personally, halal equates to not harming animals, the human body, our environment and our fellow beings."

Doctor Mah points out that even scientifically speaking, alcohol is bad for the skin, as it dehydrates the cells and is usually used as a preservative in 'natural' skincare. "If it kills the bugs in your creams, then imagine what it does to your skin," exclaims Doctor Mah.

Putting halal into practice with her skincare range, Doctor Mah looks vigilantly at every ingredient to see if alcohol was used at any stage during the manufacture. All her products' ingredients are reviewed by the Halal Food and Cosmetic Consultancy panel, based in the UK, and when approved, the next stage is an audit of the factory by an Imam to ensure that alcohol was not used to clean the pipes, equipment or as hand sanitisers during the manufacturing of Saaf products.

It may sound extreme, but as Doctor Mah says, "When you are making claims such as halal, you can't cut corners." Doctor Mah may not believe in cutting corners, but she has no problem moving to a new corner of the world. In fact a re-location to Dubai is high on her priorities.

"My husband loves good quality steaks, and Dubai has Halal Aberdeen Angus steaks, so he has no problem moving," says Doctor Mah, who also believes that being based in such a strategically placed trade location would ensure getting her eco-ethical message out to a Middle Eastern audience a lot quicker. "Also if I can license the manufacturing in the UAE, then this would mean less of a carbon footprint for Saaf International, as the products could be made locally, and not have to be transported from the other side of the world," she adds.

For the moment Saaf skincare range can be found from this week onwards at Organic Foods and Cafe at The Greens or in Satwa. For more information contact 04 398 9410 or 04 361 7974.

The Best natural ingredients for the skin, according to MahA

Mustard Seed oil is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a hair tonic, and when you look at its constituents, you'll find it's very rich in selenium and zinc (lack of which has been linked to hair loss), beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and niacin.

Mah's personal favourites are Black Seed oil and Rosehip seed oil. They have been researched for many years and are proven to have amazing youth enhancing properties, due to naturally high levels of anti-oxidants, minerals and Vitamins A, C and E.

Safflower oil and Jojoba oil are great because they are very light oils, are easily absorbed into the skin and don't leave an oily residue behind. They are also very rich in Omega oils and can soothe skin irritations, itchiness and are particularly good for sensitive skin.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 9, 2008
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