Gluten-Free skincare should be considered by people with sensitivity or Celiac disease. While this disorder usually involves the digestive and immune systems, what you use in skincare can also aggravate harmful effects.
Luckily, as more and more people become aware of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, a lot of brands have also made a lot of gluten-free products accessible and easy to find.
But how does gluten in skincare affect a person with this disorder exactly? Read on to learn why people with Celiac disease should look for gluten-free products.
What is Celiac Disease?
The term “gluten-free” and “Celiac disease” started becoming mainstream a few years back. Many have joined the bandwagon of “having gluten sensitivity,” even though they didn’t. This phenomenon has its pros and cons.
A benefit to this is letting more people and companies know about Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, making gluten-free products more accessible. However, a drawback is that many people dismiss these health conditions as no more than a fad.
But what is Celiac disease in the first place? Simply put, it’s a chronic disorder involving the digestive and immune systems. It’s a disorder triggered by ingesting food and drinks with gluten, damaging the small intestine. Celiac disease may cause long-term digestive problems while also causing the body not to get all the nutrients it needs.
To manage Celiac disease, the person needs to follow a gluten-free diet.
What is Gluten-Free?
If you pick up bread, break it up, and see its spongy, stretchy interior, that’s because of gluten. Naturally found in several grains like barley, wheat, and rye, gluten is a protein that binds food together. It’s what makes bread dough elastic and stretchy.
Gluten-free products are those made without this protein. Often, a substitute to mimic the natural properties is used in gluten-free products.
While most gluten-free products in the market are food items, this has also crossed over to the skincare and personal care industries.
Why Use Gluten-Free Skincare Products?
Topical Gluten: How Can It Harm You?
As previously mentioned, gluten is a protein that naturally occurs in food ingredients, mainly wheat, barley, or rye. As such, you will encounter gluten in food. But did you know you can also encounter it in skincare?
For people with gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease, gluten is an allergen. It will cause adverse effects on the body once it’s ingested. But how about in personal care and skincare?
This protein is added to skin care products for various reasons. Some use it as a thickener and volumizer, while others use it for its moisturizing properties. It’s also both an emollient and an exfoliator.
Apart from that, while gluten particles are too big for the skin to absorb, a derivative called Hydrolysed Wheat Protein has smaller particles that can get past the skin barrier. Skincare products add this for their skin firming and restructuring benefits.
So, should you be worried about gluten in skincare if you have Celiac disease?
The answer brings with it several considerations.
Yes, gluten particles are too big to get past the skin barrier, so you don’t have to worry about this allergen getting into your system when applied to the skin. However, there is the possibility of ingesting these products. Of course, you won’t intentionally do it, but gluten from skincare can enter your GI tract accidentally through cross-contamination.
There are multiple ways for this to happen.
When it comes to cosmetics, if you use lip balm or lipsticks with gluten, you can easily ingest gluten added to it while eating or drinking food or when you lick your lips.
Meanwhile, facial skincare items, such as sunscreen, can reach the entry point of your GI tract (i.e., your mouth) when sweat reaches it. Topical skincare and personal care items like hand lotion, on the other hand, may transfer to your food while you’re prepping it, eating it with your hands, or biting your nails.
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, a different form of gluten, is also added to some products. Since the particles of this gluten cousin are small enough to be absorbed by the skin, it can potentially cause a reaction. You may find yourself developing a rash and hives by using such products.
What to Look Out For?
If you want to be safe from potentially ingesting gluten by accident, you should always be wary of the personal and skincare items that you use.
Gluten and HWP are commonly found in the following personal care items, skincare products, and cosmetics items:
Personal Care: Hand and Body Lotions, Hand Sanitizers, Nail Products, Mouthwash, Toothpaste, Shaving Creams, Bath and Shower Gels
Skin Care: Facial Wash, Moisturizers, and Sunscreen
Cosmetics: Lip Products and Foundations
Not all such products contain gluten, thanks to more brands being aware of what some customers need. However, if you’re unsure whether an item has gluten, your best action is to read the label.
While reading the ingredients list, here are some ingredients that are sources of gluten you should look out for and avoid:
- Barley-derived Ingredients
- Barley Extract/Hordeum Vulgare
- Disodium Wheatgermamido PEG-2 Sulfosuccinate
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/Gluten/Starch
- Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
- Oat Flour
- Oat Extract/Avena Sativa Extract
- Rye-based Ingredients
- Rye Extract/Secale Cereale Extract
- Rye Seed Extract
- Rye Seed Flour
- Wheat Flour Lipids/ Triticum Vulgare Lipids
- Wheat Flour Germ Extract
- Wheat Bran Extract
- Wheat Germ Glycerides
Make Reading the Label a Habit
While Celiac disease is limiting regarding what one eats or uses, it’s a manageable disorder. Today, accessibility to products, whether food items or skin care items, is much better than many years ago.
While it may be daunting at first, there’s one habit that you can develop to keep yourself safe: Reading the Label. Product labels usually have most of the things you need to make an informed decision.
Don’t let gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease limit your quality of life. Make reading the label a habit!