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Do Your Cosmetics Contain Gluten or Other Toxins?

Toxic makeupImage Courtesy of Red Apple Lipstick

Checking Your Products for Gluten

For those with gluten intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy, hidden forms of gluten in cosmetics and hygiene products can cause major health issues. After being diagnosed, most people look toward removing the toxic protein from their foods. In essence, removing obvious sources like bread, pasta, cereal, pizza, bagels, etc. For many, the diet change can seem overwhelming, and looking at hidden glutens in cosmetics or hygiene products is not even a thought yet. A recent research report published by the National Institute for Health Sciences in Japan accumulated data from 2009 to 2013 and found 1900 patients who reported allergic reaction after using a soap containing hydrolyzed wheat protein. The diagnosis for these individuals was – Wheat Dependent Exercise Induced Asthma (WDEIA). This is not the first research report on the topic. Other studies have identified asthma in hairdressers exposed to hydrolyzed wheat protein as well. References:
  1. Teshima R. Food allergen in cosmetics. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2014;134(1):33-8.
  2. Airaksinen L, Pallasaho P, Voutilainen R, Pesonen M. Occupational rhinitis, asthma, and contact urticaria caused by hydrolyzed wheat protein in hairdressers. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Dec;111(6):577-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.09.025.

Check Your Make-UP and Hair Care Products

Asthma and inflammatory skin conditions (dermatitis) are common in those who have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. If you react to gluten, it is strongly advised that you look at the ingredients on cosmetics, soaps, and hair products. The following are some of the most common items that people tend to overlook:
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste
  • Lipstick
  • Facial Cleansers
  • Lotions
  • Shaving gels
  • Hair spray
  • Soap
These products can contain grain and gluten based ingredients that you should be aware of so that if necessary, you can switch to a new product line. Some of the most common terms (yet not obvious) you will see on products include:

5 Sneaky Terms You Shouldn’t Overlook

  1. Wheat germ
  2. Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  3. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  4. Avena sativa (oats found commonly in lotions)
  5. Triticum aestivum (another name for wheat)
You can also check out our more comprehensive list of terms that contain gluten here <<< I have see patients have reactions because of inhaled gluten from hairsprays and from kissing a significant other wearing lipstick with gluten as an ingredient. If you are looking for a substitute skin moisturizer, try shea butter, coconut oil, or jojoba oil. All three are very effective. If you are looking for cosmetics without hidden gluten, listen to this interview first. Remember, that no matter what product you are using, the manufacturer retains the right to change the ingredients without informing you, so the most important walk away is simply this – READ THE LABELS before you buy! Always looking out for you, Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior P.S. Don’t be a stranger. If you have a good product recommendation or story to share, leave your comments below.

22 Responses

  1. It is disturbing that most GF food Rudi & Udi bread for instance does not have an inner sealed wrapper or even an outer resalable one. The outside is loosely fastened. Glutono and most other GF foods are sold in packages that are not resealable once they are opened. When traveling I bring GF with me most of which is not resealable. Who knows what kind of creepy crawlies (or curious people) are
    out there. from Joan

  2. At Shore Bird: I just check out the site. Just want you to know they use xanthan gum which is another word for corn. There is Ava Anderson products as well and they use corn at this time in some of their products. But they have the healthiest powder makeup on the market. Also, Red Apple Lipstick Dr. Osborne has mentioned them. I have been buying from them for a long time and their product line is growing. Soon they will have mascara I use at this time Ava Anderson’s which is nice. I just have to avoid soy, rice and corn as well. It makes it harder to find products out there.

  3. Joelle cosmetics ( is GF and corn-free. The owner can’t have gluten or corn. Reasonably priced, too. She offers a full line, though she does lip gloss instead of lipstick, but it’s nice stuff.

    The only gluten- and corn-free shampoo and conditioner I’ve been able to find is made by Everyday Shea. They confirmed their moisturizing lavender S & C are corn-free. Their lotion looks okay, too. I’m able to find them at Whole Foods and some HEBs in TX.

  4. Great advice re moisturizers. I have used 100% organic shea butter for 5 years and it is great. And cheaper when purchased in larger quantities.
    Heat on low in a crock pot and pour into small glass jars. Nice to share with friends.

  5. I just found out I have an entirely other issue. I had a 10 hour urine test for heavy metals and it showed that I have a heavy concentration of Lead, followed by gandolinium, cadmium, aluminum, mercury, nickel and others in lesser amounts. I am beginning to see that even going gluten free there are other issues that can sabotage our health in a big way. These metals can be present in our make up like cadmium red in lipstick and blush. And what about oil based paints and copper pipes with lead soldering that deliver our water to our homes? I think this is a huge issue for my personal health. Could you please address the issue of heavy metals? I find in my reading that lead affects the health of the GI tract as well as nervous system, muscular system and esp. the brain. Now I need to do a detox to chelate these toxic substances out of my body as well as think about having my mercury fillings replaced. And I thought gluten was a problem!

    1. To Norene, I have nearly the exact health issues-wow. I would advise to not go thru the detox/chelation with pills like I did. It put me in bed. I was down for months as if I had mono all over again. The safest, gentlest way to move those metals out of your body is far-infrared sauna. I am still needing to get my amalgams replaced. Look for a dentist that knows the safe way to do it. Also, if you need another MRI refuse the ‘dye contrast’ as that is where the gadolinium came from. I use a filtration on my water that will remove all metals.

    2. I still have 2 fillings with mercury. Several years ago two others were drilled to a shell to get the mercury out. The composite filling was extensive. It was mutually agreed that as long as the back molars are completely intact they would be left alone. The time, effort, and abatement measures far outweighed the possible dangers of living with them. They have been there for more than 50 years. I see the team every 6 months.

    3. You are right. Harmful ingredients other than gluten in cosmetics is a huge issue. I help women reduce their toxic body burden and find safe personal care products, including make up.

  6. I’ve been GF for 6 months now and started to get flaky, dry skin. The more lotion I used, the worse it got. Hmmm…wheat germ and oats as ingredients. Go figure! So since then I’ve been trying to weed out gluten from cosmetics. Happy to find out that Physicians Formula is gluten free and paraben free! It’s even printed on their packaging!! Haven’t tried it yet (just purchased today), so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness but the labeling definitely makes it a bit easier.

    1. Would just say that I’ve found the more essential fatty acids and amino acids I take, the better my skin and condition is. I started by simply adding Organic Butter to my coffee. Then butter and MCT oil, Evening Primrose oil (a natural vitamin E), Grape seed oil (not Olive oil) to saute with, The fats seem to be super beneficial to making the body more resilient even tho it is counter what we’ve been told. (I can’t do Avacados, but Walnuts and Brazil nuts really help). Hope my journey helps you and others.

  7. I had to change everything when going gluten free. I use bare minerals makeup, red apple lipstick and mascara, head products for shampoo, conditioner, setting gel and hairspray. I use MSM lotion for treating my dry skin and holding my dermatitus herpetiformis at bay. I am very sensitive to cross contamination so food is a struggle at times if I am anywhere out of my home.

  8. I am a Registered Nurse and have suffered with symptoms for 20 years!! I was a Gastrointestinal Nurse for many years and after being diagnosed with Celiac disease almost 5 years ago I learned so much about what I put in my body but really never thought about what I put on my body. I am GF and just discovered Arbonne and became a rep because I love the products!! Everything is GF and Vegan certified!! Not only are they GF and Vegan but also free of phthalates, parabens, GMO’s, dyes & fragrances. They contain no mineral oil or petroleum, which are by-products of gasoline, no formaldehyde, no waxes, no acetone & no PABA. In addition, these products are cruelty free, therefore no animal testing & no animal by-products. If you are interested in finding out more, please check out my website, I’d be more than happy to help you!

  9. Thanks for your information💕 I recently was diagnosed with Celiac Disease & am having a hard time trying to find “hidden” gluten in foods & beauty products etc. you were most helpful & I do feel like this Celiac thing is very OVERWHELMING. One of my neighbors is a Doctor & has Celiac Disease & has been trying now for several years to get “on top” of all the hidden gluten dangers😢 It is daughting for sure! It is an educational journey💕

      1. I completely understand. I was bedridden, then in a wheel chair for years… only to discover that I had Celiac. So I’ve been to the extreme edge of the worse of this disease. One thing that I found shocking, is that on the Ingredient Labels… “Natural Flavor” or other “Natural Spices” is code for Gluten! French fries are rolled in Gluten prior to frying. If you ever hear ‘Made with 100%..beef/ chicken” that lets you know that up to 15% can have Gluten as a filler, a binder. (Taco Bell uses Soy not Gluten). Gluten is in yogurt, ice cream, mustard, ketchup, most dressings, spaghetti sauce, lunch meat, sausage. Any thing that is thick, most likely has gluten. It is in vitamins and supplements. How to avoid? Look for “Allergen Free”, if a product is processed in an Allergen Free Facility, that is your best and safest bet. You can research all your favorites. Tarte Cosmetics are Gluten free, there is a new line I found called Andalou, is has shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and shower gels, face creams, etc, All products are processed in an “Allergen Free Facility”. One last thing, Celiac is a response to Wheat, Gluten is how it is measured. Plain Vinegar is commonly wheat based, Oats and Lentils grown in the soil of Wheat will cause a Celiac reaction simply because it was grown in Wheat soil and processed with wheat equipment. Oats are naturally Gluten free, but are only labeled GF if they are grown Not in a Wheat Field and have not had any Wheat exposure. A lot to learn but it gets easier. Best of luck to you.

  10. I found out i have celiacs a little less than a year ago. I can certainly understand what everyone is going through. Now that i am on a gluten free diet i feel so much better. I have lost 50 pounds without even trying and i was able to go back to work after being too sick for 5 years. I would stay gluten free even if i didnt have to. I went to Taco Time the other day and they have many items on their menu that dont contain gluten and they are very good about changing their gloves if you let them know. Ive eaten there many times and never had an issue.

  11. Why do these products have wheat or gluten in them? How do they put it into things like facial wipes? I’m really confused on this subject and I feel so dumb.

  12. I use Organic excellence for shampoo, conditioner and skin care. Their joint health products are great too!!
    The products are fragrance, soy, gluten & GMO free, they say in the FAQ there is no cross contamination with corn, soy or gluten in the manufacturing process.

    For soaps I use derm-essentials from Trustnature:
    Also gluten, soy, GMO, dairy free 😀

    I have been using them for 2 years, since I was diagnosed with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis, helped a lot in my recovery.

  13. I am a coeliac so this blog post was a great read. The sneaky terms are useful. I am sure I have seen Wheat germ before on packaging but never put 2 and 2 together. Thank you!

  14. I use coconut oil mixed with sugar as a scrub for my face & I use Jojoba oil as a moisturizer & have for probably 10 years. The lotion for my hands as well as my feet in the summer is a mixture of organic coconut oil & olive oil. These have worked well for a long time. Thanks for everyone’s input

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