What's the Price of Beauty?
My entire house is gluten-free, from the kitchen cabinets to my ever-expanding make-up drawer. However, using beauty products that contain gluten is an often-contested subject in the gluten-free community. Celiac doctors explain the science behind the gluten molecule, that it has to be ingested to cause a reaction and that it can’t be absorbed through the skin. When I went to the International Celiac Disease Symposium last year, the panel of doctors stated that unless you have an open wound or you are ingesting gluten, you don’t need to worry about it. That being said, many of us are sensitive to topical contact with wheat or gluten.
Most know that when you go gluten-free, many health and beauty products have to get tossed – without debate. Anything on your lips or inside your mouth - toothpaste, lipstick, lip gloss - is fair game to trigger a gluten reaction. A woman can expect to swallow 1 to 3 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, according to some research and myths (Snopes.com). Even if that number is high (or low, if you’re a lipstick fiend like I am), don’t you really want to know what you’re eating?
When I first went gluten-free, I never checked my cosmetics. Then again, I was a terrible celiac at first. It took me years to understand what I now know about living a safe gluten-free life. One day, I decided to examine what I was wearing all these years. My make-up drawer was full of a well-known brand of high-end cosmetics (eye-shadow, face lotion, lipstick, mascara – the whole shebang). This brand was touted as “allergy-friendly,” so I reached out to them and asked for a list of ingredients in their products. Their response was disappointing:
“I appreciate the opportunity to explain that we do not have a comprehensive list of products that contain or don't contain certain ingredients. However, if you would kindly provide us with the specific product names with which you are interested, we will then consult our laboratories and share our findings with you.”
I could go down the street to Sprouts—a grocery store with ever-changing products--and get a comprehensive list of their gluten-free products. Yet this well-known company didn’t post any of their ingredients online. Since then, I’ve pledged to only give my hard-earned money to companies that practice transparency and fully disclose their ingredients.
Why do I choose gluten-free cosmetics and body products? They’re just plain safer.
Think about how often you get shampoo and conditioner in your mouth when you shower. Think about how often facial soap goes into your eyes, nose and mouth when you wash your face. Think about how often you put on concealer or facial lotion, forget to wash your hands afterward, and grab an apple slice or a cracker without thinking about cross-contamination? There are simply too many chances to accidentally get glutened. I don’t want my own bathroom to be a war zone.
What can you do about it?
Be a Vigilant Label Reader Reading cosmetic and personal care labels are more difficult than just reading a package of bread at the grocery store. While wheat, barley and oats are sometimes noted in parentheses on labels, I’ve seen companies decline to call out potential allergens. Here’s the scientific lingo to watch out for:
- Wheat Bran: Triticum Vulgare
- Rye Seed Extract: Secale Cereale
- Barley: Hordeum Vulgare
- Oats/Oat Bran: Avena Sativa
Buy Gluten-Free Products: Here are two favorite brands of gluten-free cosmetic products.
Afterglow basically has it all. Their all-encompassing product line includes powder foundation, under-eye concealer powder, liquid concealer, powder blush, powder bronzer, 22 shades of eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, 12 shades of lipstick, 8 shades of glosses, 4 shades of lip liner, and a full suite of brushes and brush cleaner. Their cosmetics are all certified gluten-free, which is a relief for any celiac to see on a brand. While I haven’t used this brand myself, I have had rave reviews about their products and the company.
Their products are gluten-free, paraben-free and soy-free. They are high-quality products that are not irritating. Anyone with a sensitive face can understand how nice it is to have products that just feel good on. They have a full line of lipstick (42 shades), lip gloss (21 shades), lip liner (4 shades), balm and an exfoliating lip product that scrubs off the dead skin that makes lipstick feather. But contrary to their name, they don't stop at just lipstick. Red Apple Lipstick has the best eye shadow around – color-rich, non-irritating, 38 (and counting) shades and the ability to wear wet or dry. I’ve never found a product that lasts as long on my eyes and gives me so many compliments. They also make brushes, eyeliner and eye cream and will be launching allergen-friendly mascara soon. You might have seen owners Andrea and Jay at a gluten-free event near you, giving makeovers and finding the best shades for your skin type.
Here are some other cosmetic brands recommended by people with celiac disease. This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, but it shows you that there are safe products out there and that certain companies do disclose their ingredients.
- Bare Minerals (http://www.bareescentuals.com)
Their website has a list of gluten-free products.
Their website states their products don’t contain gluten but can’t guarantee that machinery used to process them is completely gluten free.
- Physicians Formula (http://www.physiciansformula.com/en-us/default.html)
Their website states all of their skincare products are gluten-free.
- Pur Minerals (http://www.purminerals.com/Foundations)
Their website labels products that are gluten-free.
- Younique (https://www.youniqueproducts.com/)
Their website states they are considering pursuing a gluten-free certification for all products, except Refreshed Rose Water.
When it comes to facial and hair care products, the chances of finding gluten in your favorite brands are pretty high. I threw out a ton of name-brand washes, lotions and conditioners because hydrolyzed wheat protein seemed to be a favorite used by manufacturers. Here are some brands worthy of consideration:
Avalon Organics (http://www.avalonorganics.com/?id=505&pid=722)
I had the opportunity to test these GFCO-certified body products and was very happy that this company transformed their products to gluten-free. I really enjoyed the fragrance-free body lotion.
Their website states their products are gluten-free, hypoallergenic, non-GMO and clinically proven safe for sensitive skin.
Hugo Naturals (https://www.hugonaturals.com/)
This company is a leader in gluten-free body care. Their fragrances are fantastic, they are well stocked in natural stores, and they carry a robust CSA-certified product line. Even the oats in their products are certified gluten-free.
I had the chance to test their new GFCO-certified face and body products before their launch. I was pleasantly surprised with their suite of face products – facial lotion, cream, scrub, and cleanser.
Lovely Lady Products (http://lovelyladyproducts.com/store/Face/)
All their products are free of gluten, as well as certified organic, cruelty free, and fair trade. Their products do not contain dyes, parabens, SLS or any synthetic perfumes or fragrances.
Pangea Organics (http://www.pangeaorganics.com/sites/celiacandthebeast/PWPOHome.aspx)
All their products are gluten-free, with the exception of the Oatmeal Bergamot Bar Soap. I currently use their acne-prone line, including a cleanser, toner, and lotion.
Is your beauty routine gluten-free or gluten-full? How do you stay safe with your personal care routine?
Disclosure: I have previously and do currently receive complimentary products from many of the brands listed above. I am currently an affiliate for Red Apple Lipstick and Pangea Organics. However, I truly believe in these brands and purchase them with my own hard-earned money. My affiliation with any of these brands has not influenced my opinions or my written reviews of the products above.