Beauty, Products, Uncategorized

Do You Use Gluten-Free Cosmetics? Take The Poll

34 Comments 19 March 2012

How about some controversy?

The “experts” say that it is virtually impossible for  topically applied gluten to affect you because there is no way for it to reach your villi in order to cause damage.

Not just a few real people will tell you that they definitely have reactions from gluten in not just lipstick, but lotions, shampoos, soaps and other various cosmetics and body products.

As a former skeptic, I say listen to your body.

Let me explain my situation. I used to be super skeptical about reports of people getting topical gluten rashes and internal symptoms they traced back to topical gluten. And most of the medical community swears that topical gluten can’t really affect you…other than lip products.

The story is similar with distilled alcohol. (That’s a whole other blog post! ;)) When I was first learning the ropes of being gluten-free, I once drank tequila and woke up with my lovely dermatitis herpetiformis rash all over my face! Nice! This included crusty, wrinkly eyes too. So, I naturally put some vitamin E under my eye wrinkles to soothe and heal. Uh, my eyes swelled up like those bulgy eyed goldfish! Great!!! Now I had bulgy eyes AND a nasty face rash!! Yeah, I started crying.

So, for years I thought I had an allergy to topical vitamin E. I couldn’t find any info on this at the time and thought I was a freak of nature, but it seemed that if I used any face product with the slightest bit of vitamin E (Oh, and it’s stage name of tocopherol) that I would have at the very least bumpy skin on my face. Body products didn’t seem to be an issue, but my face was super sensitive.

Fast forward to just a few years ago, by chance I discovered that most vitamin E oil is derived from wheat germ! Aha!! :o  

So, I’m not going to say anything definitive on this topic. I’m not going to argue with anyone about gluten and skin care. Who really can explain why some people react and others don’t? What I do know is that we all should listen to our bodies.

What does bother me is when people speak about this topic from a teaching/expert platform and they take one side without explaining the other. I mean, why not give people a choice? Aren’t we all unique?

Any thoughts?

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Your Comments

34 Comments so far

  1. 1
    Aileen says:

    You need another choice for me. I don’t because I don’t know which are gf and which aren’t. Also, I don’t wear much makeup and I don’t know that I’m affected by it.

    I have had severe reactions to eye shadow in the past but I don’t know why.

  2. 2

    I did a detox and elimated gluten from my diet. When I introduced gluten back into my diet I had severe cramping and my headaches came back.
    I am a positive that the products you put on your skin affect your health as they enter your bloodstream through your epidermis. I only use Arbonne for ALL my body care and ALL my make-up.
    Since I work in the beauty business I believe that you can choose better products for your beauty routine, whether you use A lot ot a little, you are still putting product on, therefore in, your body. Life is suppose to be enjoyable… choose well πŸ™‚ For more information check out my website:

      Kelly says:

      Hey Ketmanee…thanks for sharing your opinion. The “experts” would say that entering the blood stream is different from entering the stomach or intestine and damaging the villi.

      I’m so happy to hear that you are making a personal choice based on your experience!

  3. 3
    Mandy says:

    I really wish there were another “No” option. It’s not that I don’t believe that gluten can effect people, I just know that it doesn’t effect me, so I don’t worry about it in my cosmetic products. I didn’t vote, so as not to skew results, but that’s why…

  4. 4
    Kim McKay says:

    We had a discussion about this on my blog… My conclusion for anything (food, drink, cosmetics, etc.) is that if it bugs you, stay away from it!



  5. 5
    Suzanne says:

    I changed over soaps, hair products, makeup etc. Your skin is your biggest organ. Anything that touches your skin goes into your body/blood stream directly. Gluten intollerances creates autoimmune disease which reacts from gluten being in your body/blood not just your stomach. I no longer have skin issues, ichy skin, etc. Best hair ever too:)

  6. 6
    Juliana says:

    I too was a skeptic… till I was on a girls weekend in NYC and with full make-up on in a dimly lit room, was told that I had a full body rash. I had felt-off most of the weekend and we realized that the only thing I had changed was my soap. I was using the hotels french milled soap for hand washing, face washing and body wash, my whole body was one big rash! I was sent back into the bathroom by my friend with a ‘safe’ facewash and washed my whole body down, by morning the rash had eased and I was feeling more energized. Ever since then I am very sensitive to anything with wheat in it… all the way down to surgical stitches that had been coated in wheat to keep it from sticking to itself before being used.

    If I use makeup or lipstick with gluten in it, my face immediately becomes puffy and breaks out in what I had always thought was acne… turns out it was just how my body first reacted to gluten!

    I don’t care what the ‘experts’ say, listen to your own body, if you think products bother your skin, find something else!

  7. 7
    Cristian says:

    My understanding is that most people have an Immunoglobulin A (IgA) response to gluten. This type of antibody forms in mucous membranes, most prominently on the intestinal mucosa. The inner side of your eyelids is also a mucous membrane.

    That said, I’ve never had issues with skin care products related to gluten. I do have a problem however with alcohol distilled from Triticeae crops. I instantly get dizzy, with a sense of being extremely drunk.

    PS: My body can produce a IgA response to gluten. I know however that some can not, and only respond with IgG antibodies. I’d be very curious if the people who’ve had problem with skin care products applied on the SKIN (not on mucous tissue, or near it) have a IgA or IgG response to gluten.

  8. 8
    Stephanie says:

    Cristian, the whole reason people get dermatitis herpetiformis is because IgA gets deposited in skin where it doesn’t belong.

    I had a burning reaction to a Body Shop aloe sensitive skin serum with oat extract. Oats are rarely clean and I really wonder if it was gluten. Shampoos with wheat germ will make me itch sometimes. Tocopherol seems OK since it’s only a trace.

  9. 9
    Michelle says:

    I don’t have DH but do have celiac disease. I do believe that coming into contact with gluten does bother me. I was skeptical at first and didn’t worry at all about gluten in cosmetics, shampoo, etc. But earlier this year, I helped in my son’s K classroom with a center where the kids were rolling out playdough. I knew it had wheat in it but just tried to be super careful to not touch my face, etc. I washed up thoroughly in the classroom as soon as I finished, then headed to the adult restroom to wash again with different soap & hot water. That night, I had my typical gluten reaction and couldn’t pinpoint any other possible cause than the playdough I had rolled out. After that, I purged my shampoos, etc. and have switched to those marked clearly gluten-free.
    As a side-note, for as long as I can remember, anytime I wear mascara it irritates my eyes, making them itch and burn after a few hours. I’ve tried probably 10 brands over the years. After looking into gluten in cosmetics, I went ahead and ordered a mascara from Mineral Fusion (ordered from Amazon) because they are clearly marked gluten-free. I’ve been using it for about a month now, and my eyes haven’t been irritated a single time!!

  10. 10
    Lynne Lopes says:

    I always wondered why I have a rash or itchy skin/head after using some lotions, makeup, shampoos etc & even some perfumes. I’ve never been able to wear mascara, even so-called “hypo-allergenic” ones. So thanks Michelle for your comment about mascara..I had never even thought of that! This whole thing makes sense & I’ve never thought much about it before. Thanks so much for all your posts. I’m going to do some experimenting!

      Michelle P. says:

      Lynne – you are welcome! It is great how we can all help each other out! In addition to the Mineral Fusion brand I referenced before (they make make-up and hair and skin products), I also found that Costco makes a Kirkland brand of Shampoo & Conditioner that is clearly labeled gluten-free. It is much cheaper than most other brands and I’ve been really pleased with it!

        Kelly says:

        Michelle and Lynne…YES…you guys are all great and such a wealth of info! And I too was excited to read about your mascara find, Michelle! I’m going to have to try that out! And the price is very reasonable. It’s mostly because I just want a natural mascara…who knows what is in the stuff I wear! But some natural ones I’ve tried are weak…and I need extra oomph on my wussy eyelashes. hahaha Thanks again for your tips!

  11. 11

    My better half has severe cramping, abdominal pain coupled with lots of time in the bathroom πŸ™ Since I have found Arbonne and switched up not only his supplements, protein powder, and body care we have a much happier and healthier home. I have since become a consultant with the company and have shown people a way to recieve 20% off their Arbonne purchases by becoming a preferred client through my website, I would be happy to gift sample packs to anyone who may be interested in trying out our skincare, make-up or supplements. Cheers to happier days Gluten Free!!!

      Kelly says:

      Thanks Ketmanee….that’s nice of you. I have a friend that really loves Arbonne products. I know they are “gluten-free” but I never could use them because of the tocopherol. I know it doesn’t affect everyone, though. Thanks again!

  12. 12
    Liz says:

    I do not make it a point to purchase gf products. I have used Vitamin E oil on my face for years and found out that it contained wheat. However, I am careful to keep it away from my lips…..I got away from lipstick and use Vitamin E stick for moisture (checked and it alledgedly has no wheat in it). Perhaps I’m not as gluten sensitive as others and for that I am grateful. I listen to my body and from the way my nails grow, I would guess that my villi are in fairly good shape!

  13. 13
    Kathryn says:

    Not only do I react to gluten in topical products, I also have adverse reactions to artificial dyes and many preservatives. That drastically reduces the types of products I can use.

    I was really happy to read about your vitamin e find!

    It’s interesting how differently we all seem to react.

  14. 14
    organic_one says:

    Hi Everyone πŸ™‚ I am looking at launching a Gluten Free Skincare range as a solution to the needs of those that are over-sensitive to Gluten in their lifestyle. It would be great if you could please complete this quick quiz for me:


  15. 15
    Elle says:

    I was diagnosed celiac by blood test and endoscopy almost a year ago. At first the cosmetics topic thoroughly confused. Doctors said that apart from lipstick it doesn’t matter if it’s gf or not. Everyone else on line who actually had celiac seemed to say that it did. So after thinking it over, I went with my gut (haha!) and tossed all my non gf makeup. I wasn’t thrilled with starting from scratch on my makeup collection, it was a hefty little investment to rebuild it, but I thought it’s my body and I don’t want to take any chances. I already use so much effort verifying my food, doing a little digging to find GF makeup really isn’t that big a deal. I really didn’t see a downside to making that effort. It’s an easy task compared to all the effort and questions we go through when dining at a restaurant, you know? Anyway, a month ago I was a bit impulsive and bought some makeup for the first time without verifying if it was gf or not (nothing that went on my lips). One product was by mabelline, one by phsyicians formula, and one by cover girl. The maybelline and physicians formula felt fine, but as for the cover girl—and I swear I wasn’t imagining it—every time I put it on, my skin itched. And this is from someone who’s never had any celiac related skin reactions before diagnosis. Anyway, just a few days ago I actually went through the process of calling up the companies to verify which of these products were gf or not. I honestly thought none of them would be, and that I was silly for purchasing and wearing them impulsively and I’d have to toss all three. As it turned out, the maybelline and physician’s formula were both gluten free (hurrah!). But the Cover Girl product, the one that made my skin itch? NOT gluten free! It was honestly the first time I’d worn non gf makeup in a year, and I can honestly say my body noticed it. So in my case, I suppose it does make a difference

      Erin says:


      I find that as you begin to eliminate things that could have never bothered you your body begins to purify and reject itself. Some things I was a dancer and needed heavy stage makeup all my life and had a pretty clear complexion considering. Now at 33 and just being diagnosed with Celiac disease in Feb 2013 as I begin to eliminate foods I notice sever blemishes and rashes. I am one of those Celiac’s who has dermatitis herpetiformis but this is on top of that. I really think its my makeup now. As you cleanse and detox I didn’t realize that makeup matters until recently.

      Redaing your story really affirmed that for me! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  16. 16
    Erin says:

    I was just diagnosed with Celiac Disease in Feb 2013 at the age of 33. I have suffered most of my life from ailments that friends, family even Doctors believed were exaggerated or far fetched. After a great GP and Rheumotologist I now know it is Celiac. Eliminating Gluten is a challenge but has already changed my life. I colour my hair alot and I have to be careful of the dyes I am using…..especially if you use henna, vegan or a begetable dye make sure you read the ingredients. I could never figure out why my face would get crazy with certain alcholic beverages or why I would have a rash on my the back of my neck. I now know I have dermatitis herpetiformis rash as a result of gluten. I am a FIRM believer that if you are Celiac or even gluten intolerance even things not totally ingested and just applied topically can affect you.

  17. 17
    Colin says:

    As I have worked in formulation for nearly thirty years I suppose I must count as one of the ‘experts” who are dismissed by this blog post. All I can say is that the vast majority of cosmetics simply have no contact at all with gluten. There are a small number of wheat derivatives used at low levels, but it is hard to see how any gluten could be carried over even in those cases. I have every sympathy with people who have a problem with this material. It is, as I am sure anyone reading this knows, a really common food ingredient. But the facts is it simply isn’t a problem in cosmetics and personal care. Surely this is good news?


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Kelly Courson


Thanks for stopping by! I'm Kelly Courson and this is where I've shared my gluten-free finds since 2003. The world has been my gluten-free oyster for 14 years now and I love sharing what I've learned in order to help others adapt to a gluten-free diet. Have a look around and feel free to leave a comment. Connecting with people like you is what has kept me going this long! Seriously.

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