In Japan, Cancer Patients Find Comfort in Halal Nail Polish

TOKYO – A Japanese woman helping cancer patients in hospitals has found comfort in using halal manicure to raise the morale of patients, seeing it a safe product to be used without badly affecting their health.

“I lost my mother to stomach cancer back in 2010,” Hitomi Goto, who gives manicures to patients at a Tokyo hospital on a voluntary basis, told Japan Times.

“Two years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But I was lucky. It was discovered early, so I didn’t need chemotherapy.”

Standard nail polish contains chemicals, including solvents that can irritate patients’ sensitive fingernails, while its smell is often nauseating.

The high concentration of acetone in nail polish remover can also make it painful, even hazardous, to remove.

After a long search, Goto found water permeable halal-certified nail polish as the safest to use.

The permeability also allows nails to “breathe,” so natural oils in nails are not trapped, making it a much less damaging alternative to traditional varnish.

“I searched online (in Japanese) to find an alcohol-free polish, but there were no results,” she says. “So instead, I began searching in English, with the help of Google translations.”

After trying a Canadian brand of halal polish, she discovered that it wasn’t long lasting, sometimes beginning to peel off within a few hours

Later on, the hospital provided her with Bio Water Nail polish to use.

“I realize some Muslim women are not comfortable using noncertified products, but adding that official sticker really bumps up the price,” said Goto.

“That’s why I offer them the two options: the halal-certified polish that isn’t so long lasting, and the noncertified one that lasts and is more affordable.”

Safer Products

Goto’s nail service has uncovered demand for halal and less damaging nail polish in Japan.

“I believe what’s good for patients is good for everyone. That’s why I feel a connection with Muslims because they are very cautious of what they put in their bodies due to their faith,” she said.

“Seeing how much they care about the purity of wudu made me realize how important breathability in nail polish is. This is something I want more Japanese people to know.”

In Islam, the term ‘halal’ is commonly used for meat, but it also applies to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.

Halal also applies to any other consumed and edible materials which mustn’t be harmful to human health. For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.

Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims in the $2 billion global industry.

The earliest Muslim records of Japan can be found in the works of the Muslim cartographer Ibn Khordadbeh.

The Pew Research Center estimated in 2010 that there were 185,000 Muslims in Japan.

Japan is a new but sharply growing halal market as the country’s producers are seeking fresh opportunity in the halal sector and striving to seek new local and international markets, especially now that Japan is the officially designated venue for the 2020 Olympics, attracting Muslim athletes and tourists from all around the world.