Along with terms like “clean beauty” and “vegan” you’ll also come across more and more brands that are stating that their products are “gluten free.” I think this is great for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease!
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At the time that I’m writing this post, I’m still waiting on my biopsy results, but my GI doctor is relatively certain I have Celiac disease. If not, I have severe gluten intolerance. I had to make quite a few changes to my life, but it was really difficult to find solid answers on gluten free cosmetics. I wore no makeup until I had my next appointment with my GI doctor and was able to get the facts on gluten free cosmetics. Then, there was plenty of research that followed. Fortunately, I can wear makeup that has gluten in it, but I won’t forget that process. Hopefully, this guide saves you from having to do the same thing.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in a few grains. It can be found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. (Triticale is a combination of both wheat and barley.)
Even though gluten is found in food, and comes from grains, there are plenty of other places that gluten can pop up. It’s also used as a bonding agent. You can find it in cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, and even in your lotion or skincare products.
For most people, gluten isn’t a concern. Your body processes it as though do everything else, and you go on with your day. For people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, that isn’t always the case.
When a person has Celiac disease, their immune system views gluten as a threat. It goes into overdrive, trying to fight off the gluten. This can cause a variety of symptoms, from inflammation to a rash to intestinal bleeding. Over time, the intestinal villi (the lining of the small intestine) in the intestine can scale over, preventing the body from properly absorbing nutrients.
People that have a gluten intolerance might not wind up with a severely damaged intestine, but there can still be some pretty unpleasant side effects. A rash and stomach upset are the most common symptoms, but symptoms, and their severity, can vary depending on the person and how severe their intolerance is.
Why Gluten Free Make-up?
While gluten typically causes a problem when ingested, which makes sense because it affects the small intestine, that’s not the only time that people experience problems. For example, this woman found she can’t use mascara, shampoo, or any other product with gluten in it. She can’t even touch gluten or her skin breaks out.
Cases like hers continue to pop up as more and more people ask “are gluten free cosmetics necessary?” For some people, they might not be. For others, wearing eyeliner with gluten in it can disrupt their entire life due to the horrible side effects. When wondering if gluten free makeup is necessary, you have to consider your personal reaction if you have any.
Outside of people with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, gluten doesn’t cause any harm. If you have negative effects when eating gluten or using products that contain gluten, you should stay away from it. Everyone else is generally fine. We have all consumed gluten for years without knowing it.
The recent trend in gluten free diets has become a fad. Gluten is inflammatory, etc. However, if you’re not experiencing inflammation when using products that have gluten in them, you probably don’t need gluten free cosmetics. Listen to your body, and you’ll know what to do.
FDA Regulation Regarding Gluten Free Cosmetics
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) carefully watches how most products are labeled. They are relatively strict when it comes to food items being mislabeled. It makes sense that those same rules would spill over into the beauty industry, but that isn’t quite the case.
While the food industry has specific guidelines to meet in order to label a food as benign gluten free, the same does not apply to gluten free makeup. Nothing stops a company from coming up with their own guidelines and slapping a gluten free label on their lipstick. On the other hand, if a product is labeled as gluten free and found to have gluten in it, it can be declared as misbranded. You could also sue them if you have adverse side effects that disrupt your life, so most companies aren’t keen on lying about whether there is gluten in their lipstick.
It should be noted that the FDA does not make companies declare the presence of gluten in their cosmetics. If a product has gluten, you’ll have to read the ingredient list to find out. You can also email the company to determine whether a product contains gluten.
For example, I recently emailed Urban Decay before purchasing something. They stated that I should read the ingredient list for individual products and that all of their products are made in the same facility so cross contamination is a possibility. I appreciate them informing me about the possibility of cross contamination. Other companies, such as Bath and Body Works, have emailed an entire list of ingredients because it’s not on the bottle or website.
How To Tell If Makeup Is Gluten Free
Most companies that label their products gluten free can be considered safe. Even without strict FDA regulation, companies won’t want to risk being misbranded or having to come clean that they included gluten in their lipstick. They could face a lot of backlash for doing so. More and more brands are releasing gluten free products.
You can email the company to ask if the packaging is too small for a complete ingredient list. Some companies will respond with an email that tells you the list of ingredients. Others, however, will not.
Last, check out the list of ingredients. There are certain ingredients that have gluten in them, and ones that do not. Sometimes, the ingredient list is printed on the inside of the box or on a piece of paper next to the display. If you already have the product, you can check out the inside of the box. If not, you can’t exactly rip it open in the middle of the store to check. In that scenario, look it up online. Most companies have ingredient lists available on their website.
Ingredients To Watch Out For
There are key ingredients that are found in cosmetics that can help you determine if you are purchasing gluten free makeup. Any ingredient that contains the word wheat has gluten in it. Sometimes wheat is in the middle of the ingredient, though. For example, hydrolyzed wheat protein. Other ingredients to watch out for include:
- Avena Sativa Kernal Flour
- Hydrolyzed Malt Extract
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Oat Flour
- Triticum (you usually won’t see this ingredient by itself, either. It’ll say something else, such as “Triticum Vulgare Starch.”)
- Yeast Extract
Avoid ingredients that have any of the above words in them. For a more comprehensive explanation about how to read ingredients on cosmetics, check out this article. She does a great job of explaining it!
Do Celiacs Need Gluten Free Cosmetics?
I was on a quest for an answer to this question. I didn’t want my entire face to break out in a rash! There was so much controversial information on the internet that I could not seem to find a solid answer.
At one point, I simply gave up and patiently waited until my next doctor’s appointment. I asked the nurse her opinion as well as the doctor’s. It turns out, there is not a solid answer to this question.
It was recommended that I wear lipstick and foundation that are gluten free. She said that those had a higher chance of getting into my mouth and accidentally being ingested. The same applies to lotions and things that we touch with our hands. The gluten can still be on your hand, and then can be accidentally ingested.
I was wondering “do I need gluten free eyeshadow?” She told me that it depends on how it affects me. This was frustrating, but she explained it further. She told me much of the same thing that I had read online. There is no research to confirm that gluten in makeup or skincare products can cause harm if you have Celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity. Then, she told me that she’s had patients that couldn’t wear eyeliner or eyeshadow that have gluten. She’s also had patients that have no problem wearing these products. Whether or not you can depends on how it affects you.
Then, my doctor informed me that I should be careful. She said that because eating gluten causes a rash, I may be more sensitive to gluten than I realize. After some trial and error, I’ve determined I can wear eyeshadow and eyeliner that have gluten in them.
However, I am still going to opt for gluten free when I can. I have yet to wear a single foundation that is not advertised as gluten free. I’d rather be cautious. If I do use something with gluten, I try out one new product at a time to make sure that it doesn’t cause a reaction.
So, do you need gluten free makeup if you have Celiac disease? It’s not going to hurt you. If you want to be cautious, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Gluten Free Makeup Brands
Figuring out whether a product has gluten in it can be time consuming. This is particularly true if you like to shop online and don’t have access to the ingredient list beside the display. There are quite a few companies that are proudly making gluten free cosmetics, though! This is not a complete list of every gluten free cosmetics company, but there are plenty here to get you started! (Please note that these companies offer gluten free options. I am not saying that every product offered by them is gluten free.)
- Bare Minerals (most products are formulated without gluten, but there is a risk of cross contamination)
- Cover FX does not use gluten in their products
- Benefit Cosmetics states they do not use gluten as an ingredient in their products
- E.l.f. Cosmetics does not use gluten-containing ingredients, but may use shared equipment
- Gabriel Cosmetics
Is Clinique gluten free?
Yes and no. Clinique does not advertise which of their products are gluten free and which are not. However, they do respond well to inquiries and seem to know which ones have gluten containing ingredients, and which do not.
Is Too Faced gluten free?
Too Faced is primarily gluten free. They do offer a lip pencil that has gluten in it. Because all of the products are processed in the same facility, there is a risk of cross contamination.
Is It Cosmetics gluten free?
It cosmetics does not label any of its products as gluten free, although some products do not contain gluten in them. This is because there can be cross contamination.
Going gluten free can mean getting rid of your lipstick collection and starting over. If you’re traveling down that road, it’s important to learn everything you need to know regarding gluten free makeup.