Avoid Gluten in Cosmetics and Hair and Skincare Products

If you’re just trying out a gluten-free diet, you probably don’t need to worry about topical gluten; but if you’re gluten-free due to a medical condition, then what you put on your body may be important.

Some experts say that gluten molecules are too large to enter the skin and that they’re fine unless you ingest them, but a few doctors disagree, claiming that topical skincare products enter the bloodstream after being absorbed through the skin.

Swearing that they feel “off” or “glutened” when they use gluten-containing products, some people prefer to avoid gluten even for nonfood products. Others get contact rashes and other skin problems from gluten-containing skin products. But no matter what you decide in terms of lotion and makeup in general, lipstick needs to be gluten-free (and lots of it isn’t) if you — or someone you’re kissing — is gluten-free due to a medical condition.

Cosmetics companies aren’t required to list wheat as an ingredient on the label, and they aren’t obligated to declare the presence of gluten. As with food, check manufacturer websites, shopping guides, and smartphone apps to find the gluten-free status of cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, and other nonfood products.

Here are some ingredients that may contain gluten in your cosmetics:

  • Glutens: Hydrolyzed wheat gluten, Triticum vulgare (wheat) gluten

  • Flours: Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, hydrolyzed oat flour, Secale cereale (rye) seed flour

  • Extracts and oils: Barley extract, fermented grain extract, hydrolyzed malt extract, phytosphingosine extract, Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, Triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, yeast extract

  • Proteins: Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein/PVP crosspolymer

  • Starches: Hydrolyzed wheat starch, Triticum vulgare (wheat) starch

  • Dextrins: Dextrin and maltodextrin (usually gluten-free because it’s derived from corn in the U.S., but not always), dextrin palmitate, and cyclodextrin

  • Vitamins: Vitamin E (may have wheat germ as the source)

  • Other: Samino peptide complex, sodium C8-16 isoalkylsuccinyl

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