Finding gluten-free cosmetics is not as hard as you might think. Many department store brands carry products that happen to be gluten-free, and a number of specialty manufacturers now offer entire lines of products designed with the gluten-sensitive consumer in mind.
Specialty Gluten-Free Cosmetics
Just as with food shopping, buying gluten-free makeup and toiletries requires you to become familiar with the many aliases of wheat-based products and to scrutinize labels accordingly. Finding a few brands you can trust to be reliably safe options makes shopping for cosmetics stress-free and enjoyable.
Afterglow is a mineral-based line of cosmetics developed with gluten sensitivity in mind. The founder watched her mother and sister struggle to find gluten-free cosmetics and beauty products. The result is a complete line of natural, safe cosmetics that are also paraben-free.
Pangea Organics offers organic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free beauty products for both men and women. Their gluten-free line includes body oils and facial creams, as well as lip balm.
Many products in the bareMinerals line from Bare Escentuals are gluten-free. This includes their foundations and some products for the eyes. Not every product by this company is gluten-free, so be sure to check the labels. Because the products are produced in the same factory as gluten containing products, the company admits that they cannot be 100 percent certain that their products do not contain gluten.
Joelle Cosmetics claims to have the world's largest gluten-free skin care solutions store. They are celiac friendly have a complete line of cosmetics and skin care products, all certified gluten-free.
Ecco Bella has a complete line of gluten-free makeup. They use a flower wax base that is long wearing, so your lipstick, foundations and eye shadows will stay put all day.
Tips for Buying Gluten-Free Beauty Products
Everything you put on your skin has the potential to enter your bloodstream. Even if you have no intention of ingesting your cosmetics, the possibility of a product triggering a reaction exists. According to Erika Krull, from the Gluten Free Cosmetics Counter, "We use so many personal products every day, and it just takes a small amount of gluten to cause a problem. People may be inclined to be extra cautious with anything that obviously touches their mouth like lipstick or toothpaste. But it can be a mistake to dismiss other things simply because it isn't applied to your mouth."
Krull adds that caution is important. "It's better to take a comprehensive approach to make sure everything is safe for you. You may use lotion on your hands, but you'll eventually put your hand to your mouth. You may put hair spray on your hair, but the residue can be everywhere in your bathroom."
Read the Labels
If you are already in the habit of looking for hidden gluten when grocery shopping, finding it in cosmetics will be a natural extension to label reading. Look for the words, "Gluten-Free," the gluten-free GF symbol or for ingredients that may contain wheat. If you are in doubt, call the company directly to ask.
According to Krull, "Another caution is just choosing products off a "wheat free" list. If you only have an allergy or sensitivity to wheat, then you are fine. But for a celiac or gluten sensitive person, this is not enough. If you choose a product off a "wheat free" list, check the other ingredients to be sure they are not a source of hidden gluten."
Ingredients to Avoid
Cosmetics ingredients are listed under specific names outlined by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, a system of names set out by the Personal Care Products Council. Krull explains, "Many gluten-containing ingredients don't have the words wheat, barley, or oats in them, but they may be a derivative of that grain." Using these guidelines, wheat, barley, rye and oat extracts must be identified on cosmetic ingredient lists by their scientific or common names. Watch for the following ingredients when shopping for gluten-free cosmetics:
- Wheat may also be listed as Triticum vulgare. Wheat products are commonly used in lipsticks, skin creams, mascaras and other products to improve skin texture or thicken and bind the product. Use products containing vitamin E with caution, as the vitamin may have been derived from wheat germ oil. Unless the product explicitly states the source, contact the manufacturers to be sure.
- Oats may also be listed as Avena sativa. Colloidal oatmeal is used in many skin care products to add softness and moisture to the skin.
- Barley is less common than wheat or oats in cosmetics. However, barley might also appear as Hordeum vulgare.
- Rye is seldom used in cosmetics, but when present, is usually identified by its common name.
Cosmetics Likely to Contain Gluten
Nearly any type of cosmetic or beauty product may contain gluten. This is true of everything from shampoos to foundations; wheat can be used as a binder or thickener, so any product with a creamy or liquid texture may contain wheat. These include the following:
- Cream-based eye shadows
- Liquid foundation
- Hair conditioner
Play it Safe
Not all cosmetics contain gluten or are likely to pose a problem to your health. Play it safe, though, and double check the labels or shop for exclusively gluten-free items.