Cream containing stearic acid
Fatwa No: 349819

Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu, Shaykh. Cosmetics like shaving cream or lotion contain stearic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid (most animal fats are saturated) with an 18-carbon chain with the IUPAC name octadecanoic acid. Is it halal to use that shaving cream on the skin given that all shaving creams contain stearic acid? Please provide me with authentic evidence. May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no harm in using those creams even if they contain those acids unless it is proven that those acids are impure, because in principle all things are pure, and a thing cannot be forbidden based on doubt about its purity.

In addition to this, if impurity is added to those acids but it was treated industrially and transformed to another substance, then it is ruled to be pure, as we have already clarified in fatwa 313504.

If we assume that it is prevalent that impure substances are added to those acids and that they are not transformed into another substance, then this is a case in which there is a contradiction between the principle state and the prevalent state; the principle is that all things are pure, and the prevalent state in those things is that they are impure. According to the predominant opinion in this case, we act according to the principle, which is that they are pure based on the conclusion made by An-Nawawi from the difference of opinion in regard to substances that are neither confirmed to be pure nor impure and which are generally thought to be impure, as he said, “A thing (substance) that is neither confirmed to be pure nor impure, and in general such a thing is thought to be impure; there are two opinions about it because of the contradiction between the principle and the apparent states, and the more preponderant opinion is that they are pure based on the principle…

Nonetheless, if a Muslim avoids using such substances in order to avoid doubtful matters, then this is safer with respect to his religion.

Finally, it should be noted that it is not permissible for a man to shave his beard, as we have already clarified in fatwas 87648 and 317029.

Allah knows best.

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