There is a bit of a controversy in the gluten-free world when it comes to beauty products. Should they be gluten free? Some say an absolute yes — your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs everything you put on it. Others say that it doesn’t matter as long as gluten is not ingested orally.
Where do I stand on that split of opinions? As with nearly anything I speak about, I say you get to do you! There are three of us in my family who have celiac, and each of us reacts and responds differently. We each decide what works best for us.
Do you have a skin reaction to gluten? If so, you may need to steer clear of all products with this protein. Some with celiac have been known to have skin reactions, while others with an intolerance don’t experience any issues with gluten-containing beauty products. Your best bet is to work with your health care team and determine the best approach for you.
One condition for people with celiac to be aware of is dermatitis herpetiformis, also known as DH or Duhring’s disease. It’s a chronic skin condition caused by a reaction to gluten ingestion. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “the vast majority of people with DH also have an associated gluten sensitive enteropathy (celiac disease). Extremely itchy bumps or blisters appear on both sides of the body, most often on the forearms near the elbows, as well as on knees and buttocks, and along the hairline.” While research shows this condition is linked with ingesting gluten, some say that they have the same reaction when using products on their body that have gluten in them. So again, it’s important to work with your provider to decide on the best approach in your situation.
Tips for finding safe beauty products
If you are looking to replace some or all of your beauty products with gluten-free alternatives, here are three tips that can help.
1. Determine what is working for you and is safe.
First thing to ask yourself: Are you currently having a reaction to a beauty product? If you are sure you’re not, then you may be all set and not need to change much. (It’s important to note, however, that sometimes our body could be reacting internally without obvious external signs.) To evaluate and replace products, I recommend first looking through all items that go around or on your mouth, such as toothpaste, lip balm, lipstick, or foundation or powder that you put near your mouth. As you run out of these items, replace them with safer brands. Once you have mastered the products near your mouth, then you can slowly move on to other products.
2. Find brands that you feel comfortable with.
Do your research to find brands that are using real and simple ingredients. You can Google products, or you can follow me on Instagram, as I share what products I use. For example, I love Shine Cosmetics — it is 100% gluten free, and they have the most beautiful shades! But Shine is just one example of an alternative option if you are slowly evaluating and replacing products. Be sure to look at the labels of your current items — are there many ingredients that you cannot pronounce? Look them up online or look on the company websites to learn more about them. You can also search for other brands that have transparent ingredient labels and work hard to ensure safe products.
3. Be loyal to those brands.
I have now become a very loyal customer to several brands. When I find something that is safe and works, I am going to be loyal! In addition to keeping you safe from gluten, this can actually save you money: Indeed, if you are not persuaded at every store to buy the latest trends, you will save a lot. Sticking to specific brands will also help with ensuring you are using products with ingredients that you feel good about.
I am so excited for you to go through your bathroom and see how you can improve the products that are underneath your cabinet!