Gluten-Free Personal Care Products: Necessity or Hype?

We all have our “can’t live without” beauty and hygiene products. The perfect lipstick shade, shampoo that makes our hair shine or that summertime-scented body wash.

But what if your favorite product contained gluten?

Many of our readers are surprised to learn that gluten can be found in a variety of personal care products. Eyeshadows may contain gluten as a binder so the color stays on your lids. Hand creams and lotions for dry, cracked skin may contain oats to soothe and protect. That conditioner that strengthens and nourishes your lovely locks? It just might contain wheat or wheat germ oil.

At the present time, a significant study has not been conducted on the effects of topical or airborne exposure to gluten. However, a sizable amount of people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and non-celiac gluten sensitivity have reported skin reactions when using products containing gluten.

How do I know if my favorite product is gluten-free? 

In the food arena, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates what we eat and requires the eight major food allergens to be clearly identified on the ingredients (for example Contains Wheat). However, the FDA does not require those same food allergens be listed on cosmetic products. If you want to know if your waterproof mascara or shaving cream contains gluten, you’ll need to do some detective work. Read those labels, visit manufacturer websites, and contact customer service.

Is gluten hiding in my product?

You’re a boss at label reading, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to sniff out gluten in your cosmetics arsenal, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to identify gluten in personal care product labels. Gluten may be lurking behind a variety of names that are tough to read and even more difficult to pronounce. Check out the list below to learn the alternative names that need to be on your radar.

WHEAT

  • ​​​​​Laurdimonium Hydroxypropyl
  • Stearyl Dimonium Hydroxypropyl
  • Tocopherol (Vitamin E derived from wheat germ oil)
  • Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye)
  • Triticum Aestivum
  • Triticum Carthlicum
  • Triticum Boeoticum
  • Triticum Lipids
  • Triticum Monococcum
  • Triticum Vulgare

OATS

  • Avena Sativa
  • Sodium Lauroyl

BARLEY

  • Beta Glucan (often derived from both oats & barley)
  • Malt Extract
  • Hordeum Distichon
  • Hordeum Vulgare
  • Phytosphingosine Extract

RYE

  • Secale Cereale
  • Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye)

But wait, there is a caveat

While the jury is out on the necessity of solely using gluten-free cosmetic and hygiene products, members of the medical and dermatological industry do recommend avoiding using gluten-containing products around or in the mouth (think of how many times you lick your lips each day), eyes, or on cracked, broken skin such as your hands. This includes personal care products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. These areas pose the greatest risk for gluten to be “consumed.”

Gastroenterologist Michael F. Picco, M.D. addressed the issue of “ingesting” gluten-containing skin care products and cosmetics. “Gluten-containing skin care products and cosmetics aren’t a problem unless you accidentally swallow them,” Picco said. “For this reason, avoid using such products on your lips or around your mouth. Also, avoid using gluten-containing dental products, such as certain mouthwashes and toothpastes. If you’re uncertain about whether a product contains gluten, check the ingredient list on the product label or contact the manufacturer.”

We asked, you answered!

Gluten-Free Living posted a Twitter poll asking, “Do you use gluten-free shampoo, cosmetics or other personal care products?” 102 participants weighed in with the following results:

35 percent of people polled responded “Yes” to using gluten-free products, while 25 percent responded “Sometimes” and 45 percent of those polled responded “No.”

Although this is just a snapshot of the gluten-free community, the poll responses show there is not a definitive answer to whether people feel gluten-free personal care products are a necessity.

Twitter poll results

Are gluten-free products worth it? 

It’s a personal choice whether to use products containing gluten. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it, so it’s important to “listen” to your body. If you’re using products that contain gluten be watchful for potential signs of a reaction. Symptoms include rashes, bumps near the hairline or back of neck, or eye irritation.

The great news is that there are gluten-free options! There are many makeup and personal care companies with dedicated gluten-free facilities and certified gluten-free products.  

Found of gluten-free skincare company weighs in 

Heather Rosencrantz, founder of Dirty Girl Farm, started her company by crafting a homemade plant-based remedy for her (then baby) daughter who had sensitive skin.  After learning her daughter had celiac disease, which also had a skin irritation component, Heather discovered that many conventional skincare products not only contain harmful chemicals, but also incorporate gluten.

“The skin is our largest organ, and we need to be mindful that what we put on it makes its way into our body through absorption,” explained Rosencrantz. “For individuals with a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, it is critical to have both a gluten-free diet as well as a gluten-free skincare routine – that’s why I develop all my products free of gluten to be a truly “clean beauty” skincare line.”

Living life gluten-free is a learning journey. If you’re experiencing symptoms or just curious about gluten-free personal care products, take time to research and take care of yourself.

Gluten-free makeup brands

Here are a few beauty brands that are have primarily or exclusively gluten-free products. 

  • Afterglow Cosmetics
  • Ecco Bella 
  • E.L.F.
  • Too Faced Cosmetics
  • IT Cosmetics
  • Lily Lolo
  • Mirabella Beauty
  • Pangea
  • Red Apple Lipstick
  • Sophyto
  • Andalou Naturals
  • Verb 
  • Zuzu Luxe

Maureen Stanley was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005. After battling with rashes for over a year with no relief from prescribed creams, Maureen made the connection that her gluten-containing shampoo and conditioner were causing the rashes and dry patches. After switching to a gluten-free shampoo and conditioner, her rashes immediately cleared up. Since then, Maureen chooses to only use gluten-free personal care products. Learn more about Maureen and her gluten-free story at www.holdthegluten.com.

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Gluten-Free Living.
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