Going Gluten-FreeNovember 9, 2011

Is There Gluten in Your Moisturizer?

Comments (21)

Posted by Christine Boyd

When it comes to personal care products, as a celiac I generally worry about things that go in my mouth (or have the potential to). That means I’m less concerned about shampoo or body lotion. Instead, I pay attention to the biggies—lipstick, lip balm and lip gloss, as well as dental floss, toothpaste and mouthwash. 

A recent study conducted by George Washington University researchers confirms something we already know—there’s gluten in many personal care products that’s not always apparent on ingredient listings. In the study, which was released this past week at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Washington, DC, researchers tried to identify gluten in products from the top 10 cosmetic companies in the United States.

“This study revealed that information about the ingredients, including the potential gluten content, in cosmetics is not readily available,” said researcher Dr. Pia Prakash in a press release. “The findings are alarming because gluten-containing cosmetics can be inadvertently obtained by the consumer….”


(BTW, I’m checking with the study’s researchers to question them about the exact implications for those of us who have celiac disease. More on that later.)

My strategy for buying a new lipstick is to check the manufacturer's website (especially the FAQs) or online celiac forums for information about gluten content. Sometimes it can be helpful to contact the manufacturer; other times it’s pretty frustrating. If I'm able to determine the lipstick is gluten free, then I’m brand loyal. Like the George Washington University study, I find it can be really difficult to determine if cosmetics are gluten free. One problem I've come across is that a company may tell me there’s no gluten in their LipSlicks, for example. But when I go to the drug store, I can only find LipSlicks High Gloss—and I’m not sure if that's the same thing.

I have found more success with smaller companies but I don’t know that that’s always true across the board. Bare Escentuals (bareescentuals.com) lists their gluten-free cosmetics on their website. Burt’s Bees (www.burtsbees.com) used to do that, but they've since removed the list and now ask that you call them directly to inquire about each specific product.

However, Burt's Bees products contain far fewer ingredients than what you find in most big-name cosmetics. I like that. A long list of ingredients in cosmetics is a big deterrent for me. It's the same way with food. If a food product contains 50+ ingredients, I'm less apt to buy it even if it’s labeled gluten free. 

What do you do about gluten in your personal care products?