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?


Comments (18)

For a detailed list of gluten containing ingredients found in body care products and a list of moisturizers and other face products that have been thoroughly researched go to amazon and find Is Gluten Hiding In Your Shampoo? It Was Hiding in Mine! By Marian Z Geringer

Posted by: MZG | June 5, 2014 12:22 PM    Report this comment

Thanks to all of you for your recommendations of products. This information is very useful and time-saving!

Posted by: Unknown | April 17, 2013 9:45 AM    Report this comment

Just remember, just because a product says it is gluten free it might not be due to cross contamination. If the products which include gluten are manufactured on the same equipment as the gluten free product there is cross contamination and the product is not gluten free, even though gluten is not used in the actual manufacture of a specific product.

Posted by: Sandi B | November 19, 2012 5:24 PM    Report this comment

I am just learning about Celiac and the importance of gluten-free products, as I am a consultant for Perfectly Posh and our products are all gluten-free. I have had customers ask me about that and although I was happy to report that the ARE, I wanted to understand it more. Thank you for this article. It is difficult when any health condition limits what we can or cannot use especially if the products we seek are hard to find.

Posted by: LW Moderator | July 23, 2012 2:26 PM    Report this comment

please someone whom may have a name brand gluten free personal care list please put it on here or give a way to email you to get the information. This is so overwhelming.

Posted by: Unknown | July 21, 2012 3:12 AM    Report this comment

In Canada, cosmetics need an ingredient label. Sure, some products have wheat germ oil or oats in them, but it is used as a selling point. Oat flour occasionally shows up in lipsticks, but as previous GFL articles have shown, it is not a big issue. Unless you are worried about a child who sucks their fingers, I do not believe it is something to worry about.

The original case study that triggered this report was a woman who was having a skin rash and some gastrointestinal problems that she and her doctor thought might have been triggered by gluten in the product. Unfortunately they never confirmed that there was gluten in the product. When I get a skin rash from a cosmetic, I suspect a fragrance that I am allergic to, not gluten.

I think sometimes we are so focused on gluten we blame too much on it.

Posted by: SueN | January 1, 2012 11:42 AM    Report this comment

I have been GF for almost 2 years now. I used to get migranes all the time and couldn't figure out from what, until I read an article in Living Without and it talked about Shampoo's and Conditioner's could cause them. I switched to a GF brand for both, tried it for a few weeks, headaches went away. I thought that was cool, but wasn't convinced, so I went back to my husband's brand (Aussie) and within 6 hours I had a migraine again. Since then, I have never switched back and always use the GF products.

Posted by: Kelli B | November 13, 2011 8:44 PM    Report this comment

Do any of you who use these gluten-free products notice any improvements in your skin or are they just alternatives that are gluten-free? I see that the MyChelle products were beneificial, but I am always nervous to buy something that I haven't seen reviewed by friends or strangers.

Posted by: Paula B | November 11, 2011 9:53 PM    Report this comment

I agree with Holly A. It would be greatly appreciated if you could list the products that you have found to be gluten free, ie. makeup, moisturizer, and other face products and skin creams. Thanks!

Posted by: Unknown | November 10, 2011 11:30 PM    Report this comment

I use a brand called MyChelle Dermaceuticals that I buy at Whole Foods (they have a more extensive line on their website www.mychelle.com). They say their products are all gluten-free. They are also cruelty-free and do not use petroleum or lead-based ingredients. They have skin care as well as makeup.

Posted by: Kristin W | November 10, 2011 9:04 PM    Report this comment

And a great moisturizing soap is Kiss My Face olive oil bar. This soap bar contains no soap, is gluten-free, makes my skin very soft and is very inexpensive.

Posted by: Gluten Free Recipe Box | November 10, 2011 1:57 PM    Report this comment

A great moisturizer/anti-wrinkle cream that is gluten-free is Soignee Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream. I use it at night, though. People noticed an improvement my skin immediately. Great stuff!

Posted by: Gluten Free Recipe Box | November 10, 2011 1:55 PM    Report this comment

As someone who is allergic to gluten, not Celiac, I must be vigilant about gluten in all my personal care products. One ingredient where gluten lurks is vitamin E (tocopherol acetate). Most vitamin E in skincare products (whether "natural" or conventional) is derived from wheat germ oil. You have to do some research to find products that don't contain vitamin E or have vitamin E that is derived from another source. I currently use Vanicream moisturizer which has no vitamin E/gluten ingredients or fragrances, dyes, lanolin, parabens, etc.

Lipsticks that contain no gluten are made by Hemp Organics (available online and in health food stores) and Afterglow Cosmetics (available online). Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm is also gluten free.

Posted by: Natylie B | November 10, 2011 11:03 AM    Report this comment

glutenfreehub.com posts a list of gluten free cosmetics, but you have to subscribe to access it ($25/yr)

Posted by: Maria M | November 10, 2011 10:11 AM    Report this comment

This is a topic I wish more people would talk about because with awareness comes change. My son needed to remove gluten, dairy and nuts from his diet nearly 3 years ago. He had suffered with terrible eczema since infancy and nothing every helped it until I started looking into his body wash and lotions. I finally happened upon a truly gluten, dairy, and nut free product line. He hasn't had trouble with his skin since!

Posted by: clipklopp | November 10, 2011 10:02 AM    Report this comment

I appeal to the editors to please run an article with SPECIFIC name brand cosmetic products that are safe to use for Celiac and individuals with gluten sensitivity. Even if there is a caveat that ingredients are subject to change, the generalizations are not enough to allow for shopping without a tremendous amount of effort.

Thank you!

Posted by: Holly A | November 10, 2011 9:55 AM    Report this comment

I have recently discovered 100% Pure, a small cosmetics company that carries more than just makeup. They also carry lots of other personal care products such as lotions, soaps, hair products, and facial care prodcuts just to name a few. One thing I find refreshing is that they don't use any chemicals in their products and that they label everything as to whether it is gluten-free or not. The vast majority of their products are gluten-free. There are really only a few that aren't. And if you have any doubts... they have the ingredients listed for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) directly on the website and the products themselves. They are also great about helping you if you have questions on anything. I have been using their products for just a little over a month and a half and most of my chronic acne and skin problems have gone away. (Until recently I hadn't connected the thought that gluten in my personal care products could be a large part of the cause for most of my acne!) I recommend checking them out!

Posted by: Jessica T | November 10, 2011 9:42 AM    Report this comment

I used to use a facial product before I was diagnosed with Celiac, then didn't use it for years, tried it again after diagnosis, and broke out into a horrible rash on my face for weeks because it contained wheat germ.
I read product lists carefully for all my products because I am sensitive to it being on my skin. In general, I've found that if I stick with all natural products the ingredient list is shorter and full of more things I understand. I stay away from gluten containing personal care products.

Posted by: Unknown | November 10, 2011 8:58 AM    Report this comment

New to Gluten Free & More?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In