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Suraiya Waeusang, founder of Celine, a halal skincare and cosmetic brand. Photos courtesy of Suraiya Waeusang

As a religious Muslim and a woman who uses make-up, Suraiya Waeusang has to remove the product and wash her face at least three times a day before prayers. Muslims must wash their hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, head, ears and feet before prayers five times a day — three times in the day and two times in the evening and at night.

To save time, nine years ago, Suraiya came up with the idea of ​​a halal skincare and cosmetic brand called Celine.

“At that time in Pattani, there were few halal cosmetics imported from abroad, but they were not popular. I did not know what ingredients those skincare and cosmetic products had. I have sensitive skin and once after using a whitening cream, I had an allergic reaction. Then, the thought occurred to me that I should create my own halal skincare and cosmetic line,” Suraiya explained.

Suraiya consulted with a dermatologist and a factory to produce halal moisturizer and sunscreen testers for her sensitive skin. After testing on her own skin, Suraiya was satisfied with the results and sent the product to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. The halal skincare and cosmetic brand, Celine, is currently registered by the FDA and approved by the Halal Science Center.

A range of Celine products. Suraiya Waeusang

Suraiya said it took one year for Celine to get approved by the Halal Science Center, Chulalongkorn University.

“Many products were in line for approval. Halal skincare and cosmetics products must not include ingredients derived from animals and must not contain ethyl alcohol. All processes including preparation, producing, packing and transportation must meet the halal hygienic standard. Thus, the products do not mix or make contact with other prohibited items during the processes,” Suraiya explained.

The founder of Celine initially created halal skincare and cosmetic products for herself, but as a housewife, she was also looking for an opportunity to earn her own money. She decided to launch her products after a follower on Facebook asked her for help.

“A follower had problems with pimples and melasma, so she chatted with me on Facebook. I consulted with a dermatologist who sent me a product tester. After the follower tried the tester, she had good results, so I decided to turn the tester into products,” said Suraiya.

Suraiya Waeusang, founder of Celine, a halal skincare and cosmetic brand. Photos courtesy of Suraiya Waeusang

Although Suraiya uses her halal cosmetics, she still has to wash her face before praying, but she does not have to remove all her make-up.

“According to Islamic practice, if women do not use halal cosmetics, they must clean their faces and remove all make-up completely before prayers. Therefore, some religious female Muslims do not wear any make-up or even use sunscreen, especially when they are at home. This causes them melasma. After Celine was launched, these Muslim women opened up to the brand because it is halal skincare, and the product has helped them to have better skin in the long run,” Suraiya said.

Some people may wonder why Muslim women who wear a hijab which covers up their faces still want to wear make-up.

“Women want to look beautiful. I feel confident and refreshed with make-up and moisturiser. I have to cover my face with a hijab when I am in public places, but at home, I can take my hijab off if only women are present . I still wear full make-up under my hijab,” she said.

Currently, Celine has over 40 products. Suraiya said the most popular is anti-aging skincare. In 2017, Celine won the Top Brand Awards organized by the Press Committee Club of Thailand and the Business Press Club. Suraiya expanded her business by employing over 40 sales representatives.

“Many Celine sales representatives are Muslim housewives who did not have their own income. Selling Celine products helps them earn their own money,” said Suraiya.

A range of Celine products. Suraiya Waeusang

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Suraiya was invited to showcase Celine products every year at a halal product fair, the Thailand Halal Assembly, organized by the Halal Science Center, the Central Islamic Council of Thailand and the Halal Standard Institute of Thailand. This fair gave Suraiya opportunities to meet international customers.

“I met customers from Malaysia, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Jordan at the Thailand Halal Assembly. They were interested in Celine because it is a halal product. Many customers became Celine sales representatives and ordered products to sell in their countries. Some purchased large amounts of products to gift to people they knew. International customers were also interested in anti-aging products,” Suraiya said.

The name of Celine sounds similar to the French luxury brand Celine. Suraiya said nine years ago she had never heard of the high-end French brand Celine.

“I did not know that Celine at that time. I wanted a product which sounded like my daughter’s name, Zeereen. The name of the brand may be similar to the high-end Celine, but our logo is different. I used to consult with the Department of Intellectual Property in Pattani and they said if our logo looks like the other brand, it will be illegal. However, Celine Halal has a different logo design,” Suraiya explained.

Over the course of nine years, Suraiya has tried to reach customers through Facebook and in person. In 2022, Suraiya had to compete with increasing halal skincare and cosmetic brands. It is a struggle, but she is determined to learn more about using online platforms to promote her products.

“In the past, I met customers in person and could close deals effectively. I admit that the sales volume of Celine has declined a bit due to the pandemic and there are more halal cosmetic brands on the market now. Currently, Celine has gained some new customers from online ads. I still want to reach more customers, but I am not good at live streaming. I feel awkward while hosting and talking to a camera alone. As a result, I only go live on Celinehalal Facebook when there is a special promotion.

“I intend to improve and learn more about selling via online platforms in the near future,” Suraiya said.

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