Gluten-Free Beauty

Now you may be wondering what the hell gluten is doing in your makeup bag, and that’s a fair question…

You know it’s found in bread, cakes, beer, cookies, cereal, pasta…pretty much anything delicious. You know that “GF” doesn’t stand for “girlfriend.” You know how to spot the symbol for it on a restaurant menu. You have at least one friend who has stopped eating it.

That’s right: it’s gluten.

Over the last few years, gluten has been vilified as the source of all things evil when it comes to health. Stomach problems? Gluten. Digestion issues? Gluten. Eczema? Gluten. Raging period cramps? Gluten. Bad breath in the morning? Probably gluten’s fault. And while there are many people out there who are truly allergic to the stuff who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, there are many more who have gone off it simply because they hope it will make them feel better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s hard to tell. There’s no harm in experimenting with eliminating things from your diet, and gluten is as a good a place as any to start if you’re experiencing health issues.

But if you’re going to eliminate gluten and hope to see a change, you have to eliminate ALL gluten. This stuff doesn’t just live in what you eat and drink, it can also sneak its way into your life in ways you’d never think of. Case in point: makeup.

Before you freak out, know that gluten can’t be absorbed through your skin—the proteins are very large, making absorption almost impossible. So you can stop frantically scrubbing your face.

But what is possible is accidentally ingesting or swallowing some, say, in the form of lipstick. Or the water running down your face and around your mouth as you wash your makeup off. Or when you accidentally poke yourself in the eye with a mascara wand. Or if you lick cookie batter off your finger after concealer. Yes, these instances are tiny, but if you’re going to be cautious about food, why not go all in? And if you have a rash associated with celiac that’s been diagnosed as such (dermatitis, severe acne, psoriasis, eczema), you definitely don’t want to be slathering glutenous products all over it.

Now you may be wondering what the hell gluten is doing in your makeup bag, and that’s a fair question. Chances are you’ve only ever associated gluten with bread and similar foods, so to learn it’s lurking in other things may seem strange. But think about it this way: Gluten is a group of protein found in wheat and other grains that helps something maintain its shape and bind together. In bread, it helps all the ingredients form a dough and then helps hold through baking. You know what else has a bunch of ingredients that needs help binding and staying together? Makeup.

Unlike food, the anti-gluten movement hasn’t reached the cosmetic aisle in full force yet. Which means there’s no shelf dedicated to gluten-free mascara or a big symbol on the packaging alerting you to something’s gluten content. But all is not lost. You just have to be more careful about reading ingredients, and I mean all the ingredients.

Cosmetics companies know that gluten can be the enemy to their sales numbers, so they’re not going to make it easy for you. An ingredient list isn’t going to proclaim GLUTEN in big, bold, all-caps letters for you. In fact, they’ll probably try to hide it under a Latin name you don’t recognize. So you’re gonna have to work.

Here are some of the more common gluten offender ingredients you’ll find in conventional makeup.

  • Triticum Vulgare (wheat)
  • Hordeum Vulgare (barley)
  • Avena Sativa (oat)
  • Dextrin
  • Wheat Germ Oil
  • Hydrolyzed Barley Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
  • Maltodextrin

Were you familiar with any of these? Thought so. Luckily, brands that are truly gluten-free will do a good job letting you know as much. Unless a brand states that they test their ingredients and products for gluten, there’s always the possibility of cross contamination. So proceed with caution if you’re severely allergic.

The bottom line is that if you’ve gone g-free because it seemed like a popular choice, were trying to lose weight or any other non-medically-backed reason, you really don’t have to worry about this. My apologies for making you read to the end to reveal the truth. But if you’ve been diagnosed with any gluten-related illness, internal or external, pay attention! It’s unlikely that licking your lips while wearing lipstick will cause major damage to your gluten-free lifestyle, but better to be safe than sorry, especially given how easy it is to find amazing, GF cosmetics like Vapour Organic Beauty (except the eyeliner!), rms beauty, Rituel de Fille, Smith & Cult and lük beautifood.

+Read more from Allie here!

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Wow, I didn’t know that there’s even gluten-free makeup now. The trend is going wild – but that’s great for people who are truly sensitive!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

This is such a great post as I think so many people don’t even consider that makeup could not be gluten free. Myself included so thankyou so much for sharing!

4 years ago

Interesting! Thanks for sharing this, Allie.

Diana Free
4 years ago

This post is very informative!

4 years ago

Its really appreciating job….we just check the products to use not their ingredients. Thanks for such a valuable information and even about gluten ingredients.

Also, we have health and skincare products here:

4 years ago

Going gluten free with my makeup and beauty/cleansing products made a huge difference in my skin!! I don’t have celiacs but am gluten sensitive and get severe brain fog and hives/breakouts when I ingest the stuff. I first switched my food, but still notices some lingering gluten issues and it wasn’t until I went totally gluten free in all of my makeup and soaps and shampoo/conditioners that I noticed all my symptoms disappear. For me the most important beauty switch was my mascara and shampoo and conditioner. I used to get itchy eyes, especially around the line of my eyelashes, but always thought that was normal and by the end of the day my mascara was all smudged from all the rubbing. Once I switched to GF makeup, I instantly noticed my eyes were no longer itchy. I also used to have a really itchy scalp (not dry or dandruff, just itchy) , and once I made sure my hair cleaning regime was gluten free that all went away. (Important to note that I always had an all natural beauty and skin and hair care routine, so I am confident that none of these problems were from harsh chemicals). If you have any problems with break outs or itchiness, I would totally suggest going GF for your makeup and skin and hair care, it did wonders for me!!