Hey everyone! A bit different of a post than my usual, I know. I’ve been sitting on versions of this post for the longest time (gluten was going to be something like my fourth blog post ever, back in July when I started my blog) and this particular one for a couple weeks now. Also, I’m getting extremely busy with schoolwork, as the final presentation for my architecture thesis project is next week.
I’ve been seeing things about gluten-free beauty products more and more recently, and a lot of it seems a bit misinformed. As someone who was diagnosed with celiac disease way back in 2000, I wanted to spread some light on the subject.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or scientist or anything. My views are my own, based on what I’ve read and seen. I also don’t specifically seek out gluten-free beauty products. If you think you have celiac disease, the best thing to do is get tested (and to get tested, you need to have gluten in your system).
So to start off with, what is gluten? It’s a natural protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It makes dough more elastic and can give things a lighter consistency.
Why is it bad? From what I’ve read, it’s not bad unless you specifically have an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance specific to gluten or to wheat, barley, or rye. These include celiac disease, which I have. Symptoms of celiac disease are often gastrointestinal, but aren’t necessarily. As an example, dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin rash caused by eating gluten (but not topically applying products containing gluten) and something that I can get if I eat a lot of gluten over large periods of time.
Note: there is still debate on whether a non-celiac gluten sensitivity even exists. It’s possible that there could be a placebo effect, or the real culprit could be something else found in products containing gluten (either a different protein found in the wheat, etc. or a second ingredient altogether).
Second note: Generally, people who go on a gluten-free diet and successfully lose weight are not necessarily just cutting out gluten – they’re making healthier choices like eating fresh fruits and veggies instead of cookies and chips. Gluten-free versions of things like bread are generally higher in calories and sugars, while also lower in vitamins and minerals.
What does gluten-free mean? Generally, gluten-free foods have under 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. But that can be raised with cross-contamination with gluten-containing products. Because of this, many restaurants have disclaimers that their gluten-free options may not be suitable for people with celiac disease. I’ve also seen a gluten-free beer derived from barley where there were under 20 ppm.
So what about gluten-free skincare, haircare, makeup, etc.? From what I can find, a gluten molecule seems to be too large for the skin to absorb properly, so it is safe on the skin for people with Celiac Disease. There is a chance of ingesting things, mainly lip products, but neither the Celiac Society nor International Dermal Institute think that it’s a big issue.
If you have an allergy to wheat, it’s much more likely to affect you. If you have a skin reaction, it’s best to talk with a dermatologist to determine the cause, because it’s possible that you’re allergic to what the gluten is derived from or another ingredient.
If you do need wheat-free/gluten-free beauty products, what should you do? Investigate further. Contact brands (especially about specific products) and learn the names of ingredients that could cause problems (most natural ingredients use Latin names, and some ingredients can be derived from wheat). Some brands may say that cross-contamination is possible, even if they are listed as gluten-free.
Why don’t I only use gluten-free beauty products? The amount of gluten that I could possibly ingest from beauty products is minimal. The amount of beauty products that get ingested throughout a day or even a month is probably pretty small in the first place, and I doubt these products are chock-full of gluten, anyway.
I hope I’ve demystified gluten and gluten-related beauty products a bit. Leave me any questions below if I haven’t made anything clear!