Trendy Taboo

01.28.135:48 PM ET

Breathable Nail Polish Fits Muslim Women's Religious Restrictions

Kuwaiti girls give a victory sign as they stand in front of a polling station in Jahra February 2, 2012. Kuwaitis headed to the polls on Thursday for the fourth time in six years in a snap parliamentary election in which opposition candidates expect to expand their influence and push for change in the oil-exporting Gulf Arab state. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee (KUWAIT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR2X6UL
Kuwaiti girls give a victory sign in Jahra February 2, 2012. (Stephanie McGehee / Reuters, © Stephanie McGehee / Reuters)

The trend for adornment amongst Middle Eastern women is nothing new, but nail polish is often left out of the equation. Traditional nail polish has proven difficult for observant Muslim women, as their religion’s call to prayer requires a careful washing of hands, forearms and face to thoroughly cleanse every possible surface. Polish typically interferes with the procedure by creating an impermeable barrier on the nail bed. But in an effort to work around the situation, women in the Middle East have been known to arduously remove and reapply their polish several times a day between prayers, or to reserve the product until the week of their menstrual cycle when women are not allowed to pray. But to that effect, wearing polish has become a subliminal symbol for a woman on her period, which can prove embarrassing in more conservative states.

Yet there may be a solution: Polish cosmetic company Inglot has created a new product that may cut through the religious taboo. The brand’s O2M ‘breathable nail enamel’ is constructed of the same kind of permeable polymers that are used in many contact lenses, allowing moisture to flow through to the nail during prayer preparations. According to The Daily Mail, when the polish is tested on coffee filters, the traditional nail polish filter remains dry on the bottom, while O2M’s soaks through, even wetting the second filter beneath it—proving its viability as a nailcare solution for women in Muslim states. The paper writes that polish in general can often agitate more conservative Muslim affiliates (they use a Saudi Arabian woman who was harassed in a mall for her manicure, as an example). However Inglot’s invention could possibly create a shift in cultural opinion. And aside from its religious applications, 02M’s full 53-shade range is already receiving rave reviews from the Internet’s bevy of nail blogs who praise the product for its long-term staying power.

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